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Luke Haines
Nine And A Half Psychedelic Meditations On British Wrestling Of The 1970s And Early 80s Julian Marszalek , November 16th, 2011 10:17

That age brings wisdom is a given but with advancing years comes the realisation of the inevitability of mortality. Indeed, since the passing of this writer's parents within three years of each other, childhood is a destination that has been sought for a sense of security as well as being a place that holds some kind of answers to unlock the mysteries of identity. But, as evidenced by this, the latest solo release by Luke Haines, the formative years hold as much terror, pain and unpleasantness as anything encountered in adult life.

Nine And A Half Psychedelic Meditations On British Wrestling Of The 1970s And Early 80s transports the listener to those Saturday afternoons where ITV's World Of Sport would thrust viewers into a world of grappling men, overfilled leotards and exaggerated grunting as they waited for that afternoon's football results to be read out at 4.45pm. A concept album of sorts and one to be consumed and enjoyed in one sitting, Haines re-imagines the lives Big Daddy, Kendso Nagasaki, Giant Haystacks and so many more through the telescope of the passing of time.

This is a world of smoky transport cafes, bland food and peeling wallpaper; a place where travelling home from school would involve punch-ups with pupils from rival educational establishments and the terraces of dilapidated football stadiums up and down the land were characterised as much for the action off the pitch as on. Here, one-time folk hero Big Daddy is seen composing music on a Casio VL-Tone, the all-in-one drum machine and keyboard of choice for the financially challenged ('Big Daddy Got A Casio VL-Tone') as elsewhere the monotony and grimness of the period is wonderfully evoked on 'Saturday Afternoon' ("'Mother, what's for tea?'/ 'Liver sausage sandwich and cheese'").

Strangely enough, the album is oddly redolent of Roger Waters, another songwriter whose portraits of childhood are anything but rosy and no more so than on the hilariously titled 'Rock Opera In The Key Of Existential Misery', a song that doffs its sonic cap to Dark Side Of The Moon. But whereas Waters' vision is unremitting and fuelled by bile and rage, Haines offers respite and something approaching a happy ending. 'Haystack's In Heaven, Parts 1 – 3' sees the aforementioned man-mountain getting sweaty in a great wrestling match in the sky with Brian Glover, Pat Roach and all the greats as they're cheered on by all the ringside pensioners of the period who've gone on to join them.

One of Haines' best efforts, Nine And A Half Psychedelic Meditations On British Wrestling Of The 1970s And Early 80s is an album that does much to encourage the here and now as it does to paint an impression of a time long gone.

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