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Luke Haines
Outsider / In - The Collection Jeremy Allen , July 18th, 2012 06:34

There's a moment in the new film about Luke Haines, Art Will Save The World, where one of the talking heads makes the bold statement that in 2025 people will still be listening to him long after they've forgotten who Blur were. I would tell you who said it, but I can't remember, given that Haines insisted he wanted his friends commenting during the film rather than “careerist cunts like Maconie and Sawyer”. While Damon gets a starring role at the Olympics, the Auteurs man sees a collection of work repackaged while a documentary (funded with Irish cash no less) gets a simultaneous limited release for the more discerning punter interested in art made by one of the music industry's self-proclaimed outsiders. Though the fact the two releases are out together is apparently a coincidence, it's a welcome mini-renaissance for one of indie rock's great renaissance men.

The double CD format allows us to get reacquainted with some brutal and incisive works, and a song like 'The Upper Classes' sounds more pertinent today than it ever did. If you'll forgive me for harking back to the documentary again, Jarvis Cocker makes the point that 'The Upper Classes' could have been a huge record had Haines' not sabotaged himself by using the word 'cunt' in it. It would probably be churlish at this point to mention some of the similarities between that song and much of the content of Pulp's smash album A Different Class, though feel free to peruse on YouTube (or, indeed, buy this compilation – Save The Music Business Ed) and knock yourself out.

If other songs too feel like old classics, well, that's because they are. 'Unsolved Child Murder', with its twitching curtains and unspoken horrors, has something far more quintessentially English about it than any of the patronising meanness of Parklife. Haines the contrarian has dismissed the song, claiming anything from After Murder Park is entirely devoid of humour, though that perhaps has more to do with the fact he's now a happily married man with kids than the fact the pathos deployed is extremely funny if you like your comedy dark.

It's a strange compilation in many ways, and certainly no anthology. There's no Black Box Recorder here for starters, presumably because EMI don't have the rights to those songs. The inclusion of two tracks from The Auteurs vs μ-Ziq feel like strange musical interludes injected to showcase Haines' unpredictability, though space might have been better utilised with a song as bitter and hilarious as 'Married To A Lazy Lover'.

CD two covers latter Auteurs work and the brilliant but badly-received 'Baader Meinhoff', a concept album about the elegant terrorist organisation; the world alas seemed less ready for it in the 90s than it was for the guerilla gang actually blowing up embassies during the 1970s. Songs like 'The Rubettes', 'The Mitford Sisters' and 'Death of Sarah Lucas' were also all too smart to subvert from the inside, though Haines watchers have enjoyed him in obscurity with even more relish as others have taken their eye off the ghoul. 'Outsider/In' is a fine collection for the uninitiated, and for those who might have drifted from The Auteurs sometime after 'Now I'm a Cowboy', here is a brutal lesson in what you've been missing. Here's looking forward to the complete anthology in 2025.