Rock and Roll Animals
Only a cunt like Luke Haines would make an album like Rock and Roll Animals. Notice I said would rather than could. Almost anyone could give it a go – most wouldn’t allow it out in public; too scared they’d be laughed out of town if they even got the idea up and running past an early slice of smug-lipped whimsy.
Oh and he’s a cunt is he? Well don’t take my word for it, take his. Haines is (almost) at pains to put across that he’s a bit of a cunt in his funny and expert Britpop/anti-Britpop memoirs.
As the man who started making a dent under the band-name The Auteurs would obviously have it Rock and Roll Animals is concept-album folly, an idea anyone else might think up then throw away. It’s a silly set of short, linked folkish pop songs or poppy folk songs drawn together as if a fable for kids but served – so obviously – for adults. My toddler’s toes were a twinkle though as soon as the album started. So Haines – in all his cuntishness – has captured that sound; he’s aimed the dart just right.
Here he sings of The Rolling Stones being kinda rubbish post-Brian Jones, even though Jones was probably evil. He chucks off at Led Zeppelin’s musical thievery and mocks the notion of old rockers reforming to squirrel away so many chestnuts.
It helps if you imagine the narration midway through Blerta’s Dance All Around The World as tonal touchstone.
Haines’ rock and roll animals are Jimmy Pursey the fox (you may remember him from Sham 69) Gene Vincent as a cat and a badger named Nick Lowe. The link? Well apart from Haines’ mad mind having a laugh and possibly wanting to align himself with didn’t-quite-make-it-as-they-should/near-outsiders they’re all from around his stomping ground. The Wombles with Walton-on-Thames in common.
It’s loaded with in-jokes you’ll either like or hate. Or miss. And there are many little nods to misunderstood genius – to people (and/or “animals”) not getting the correct adulation in their time. Tongue in cheek, sure, but still – also – a middle finger up high as well.
Some reviewer compared Haines to Woody Allen in the way that he’s pumping out material with little interest or awareness of whether it resonates beyond his own whim – and on that basis alone the comparison can stand. But if Haines wasn’t really channelling the Woodster it’s likely he did dream this up while enjoying a joint as he finished reading Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by one of Allen’s spiritual godchildren, David Sedaris.
The end result here – and this review is now nearly as long as the album – is akin to what Robyn Hitchcock might have offered the world if his Floyd obsession had actually been about Roger Waters instead of Syd Barrett.
So – quite good? Yep. Kinda. And also a bit shit too. And that’s okay. Like that cunt gives a shit what we think. He’s having a laff. And hey, good on him for that. You’ve gotta find them somewhere these days.