Outsider/In is the closest thing you’ll hear to a Luke Haines’ ‘Greatest Hits’ package. He has very few songs that could be classed as hits but, unlike the demo and b-side heavy Luke Haines Is Dead collection, this two CD set is made up of singles and album tracks from across his career.
Whilst this more straightforward song selection, except for the inclusion of tracks from the The Auteurs vs Mu-Ziq EP, makes it less desirable to anyone who already knows and owns most of Haine’s work it does make for a close to perfect introduction for anyone who is interested in checking him out.
What is interesting in retrospect is hearing what a consistent producer of excellent records Haines is despite his (somewhat self-perpetuating) reputation for sabotaging his career. The Auteurs songs from the New Wave tracks, through the brilliant ‘The Rubettes’ to the orchestral reinterpretations are uniformly excellent. His early solo work is also much better than my memory would suggest and, although I struggle with the whole of the Oliver Twist Manifesto album, ‘The Death of Sarah Lucas’ sounds great.
Best of all is the inclusion of a handfiul of tracks from his Baarder Meinhoff project, an album that is criminally hard to track down. ‘There’s Gonna Be An Accident’ must be the funkiest song about German terrorists ever written.
This album isn’t a complete career retrospective, and that is a shame. Add a third disc containing tracks from his last three solo albums as well as his best songs as Black Box Recorder and you would have something just about perfect. As it is this is an excellent collection of tracks from one one of the finest songwriters this country has ever produced and anyone new to his work could do a lot worse than start here. And I think that most new listeners will be buying the full albums and the two excellent books of memoirs off the back of the experience.
By Dorian Rogers