The Auteurs’ malevolent and bilious 1996 masterpiece, After Murder Park, gets the deluxe treatment, with memorable bonus and live tracks.
If you haven’t seen the excellent documentary Art Will Save the World by Irish filmmaker Niall McCann, I highly recommend it. During the section on After Murder Park, Luke Haines says that the first thing that struck him when he listened to the album (several years after making it) was the total lack of humour in the lyrics.
Written and rehearsed while Haines was nursing two broken ankles (sustained after jumping off a wall during the Spanish leg of the European tour) the album could best be described as “bilious”. Despite some rather impenetrable lyrics (courtesy of the prescribed and non-prescribed medication Haines was taking at the time, “sometimes the drugs do work, kids” to quote the liner notes) the album still manages to channel a mood of malevolence. It opens of with Light Aircraft On Fire, probably one of The Auteurs’ best tracks, two minutes and twenty seconds of Haines at his snarling best. The song also provided one of the most memorable TV appearances of the “Britpop” era.
The band sounds on fire and you can hear that the intensive rehearsals prior to the recording and Steve Albini’s no-nonsense approach to recording brought out the best in the quartet.
As usual with Haines, excellent lyrics are paired with memorable tunes (Unsolved Child Murder, After Murder Park). The firing of second guitarist Steve Chalker before the sessions for the album didn’t prevent the band from sounding its heaviest so far (the winning triplet of Land Lovers, New Brat in Town and Everything You Say Will Destroy You). The guitars sound absolutely fantastic and James Banbury’s organ and cello add an extra dimension to Haines’ already great songs.
This expanded edition contains a plethora of bonus tracks. Particular highlights are two songs originally released on an EP with Unsolved Child Murder – Back With The Killer Again and Kenneth Anger’s Bad Dream – two tracks that could have been included on the LP. We also get a John Peel session produced by Steve Albini (including an excellent version of Buddah).
The second CD is a full gig recorded for the now sadly defunct France Inter’s Black Session radio show. Luke Haines says the band never sounded better live than on this recording but for me the two BBC tracks on the Luke Haines is Dead compilation are still the best live recordings the band ever made (that version of Upper Classes is simply FAN-TAS-TIC).
You can check out The Auteurs on Facebook.
All words by Craig Chaligne. More of Craig’s work for Louder Than War can be found in his author’s archive.