Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

baader meinhof - baader meinhof

baader meinhof

Released 1996 on Hut
Reviewed by Jasonaparkes, 27/09/2007ce

4. MOGADISHU (3:37)
6. GSG-29 (2:58)
7. ...IT'S A MORAL ISSUE (3:24)
8. BACK ON THE FARM (3:53)
9. KILL RAMIREZ (3:26)

Produced by Luke Haines & Phil Vinall.
All songs written by Luke Haines


Luke Haines - guitar; keyboard; vocal
Kuljit Bhamra - tablas; percussion
Justine Armitage - violins
James Banbury - cello
Andy Nice - cello
Gary Strasbourg - drumkit
Derek Hood - traps; kit
Phil Vinall - keyboard; claps

NEW WAVE. My first encounter with Luke Haines was when I saw The Auteurs blow a pre-Drowners Suede off the stage at the Windsor Old Trout. Debut LP ‘New Wave’ followed later in the year of 1992, some months before Suede’s eponymous debut and ‘Modern Life is Rubbish’ by Blur…the records that gave way to the movement that was called B*itpop. The Auteurs probably weren’t far from the early material of Suede, but there was something about them that didn’t quite fit in, a sound that recalled bands like The Go-Betweens, The Modern Lovers, The Only Ones, & T Rex. Bands that never quite made it, were on the edge, or held in low regard. Haines got pissed off when the Mercury Award went to Suede, which was probably the beginning of the dark comedy that was his career, so many great records released as The Auteurs, Black Box Recorder, himself, and for one album only, Baader Meinhof.

A TOUR IN EUROPE. The dead proto-Amazon mail order outlet (Titles Direct) I used to work for had a 12” promo of ‘Lenny Valentino’ by The Auteurs. It sat unwanted on a desk for months. Fellow staff members thought I should take it home…I explained I already had it on cd-single. The general loathing of them reminded me of their greatness and I was one of those who bought the second Auteurs’ album ‘Now I’m a Cowboy’, which killed their career at the point ‘Definitely Maybe’ and ‘Park Life’ went overground. The caustic nature of the early work of Haines evident in songs like ‘American Guitars’, Housebreaker’ & ‘Idiot Brother’ broke the barrier with epic ‘The Upper Classes,’ a song has been accurately described as The Fall’s ‘Idiot Wind.’ Even better was ‘Everything You Say Will Destroy You’, a song that was unfulfilling prophecy and anti-autosuggestion and one that Haines’ would return to on his next album. It was around this time that Haines threw himself off a wall and presented himself with an injury to get out of a tour in Europe…

EVERYTHING YOU WILL SAY WILL DESTROY YOU. At the height of the cultural phenomenon we know as Br*tpop, Haines decided to record an album with Steve Albini titled ‘After Murder Park’ – an album that featured a re-recorded ‘Everything You Say Will Destroy You’ and joys such as ‘Light Aircraft on Fire’, the title track, and ‘Dead Sea Navigators.’ Its prettiest moments included the self explanatory ‘Unsolved Child Murder’ and the gorgeous ‘Child Brides’, the eponymous child brides urged to throw themselves at the tide. Within all this anti-Brit*op was another poppy ditty entitled ‘Tombstone’, whose opening lines were, “taking out the garbage at the Columbia Hotel/nobody got a ticket out of cripple town/better call suspension – bakelite and dial/We’ll take the fucking building out – baader meinhof style.” This is amusing due to the fact the cover of ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ by Oasis was from a hotel room in that rock’n’roll establishment – the present tense and the retro world were getting a kicking. It was around this time Luke Haines spoke of “the abyss.” The only way was down…

BAADER-MEINHOF. The Baader-Meinhof gang and the world of popular music had crossed paths before, from odes to Ulrike Meinhof by Chumbawhumba, to the ‘Baader Meinhof’ single by Cabaret Voltaire, to an apparently unreleased Teardrop Explodes track ‘Stammheim’, and a dedication to Ulrike Meinhof on ‘Broken English’ by Marianne Faithfull. In a wider sense, the Red Army Faction (R.A.F.) had some chic and Joe Strummer wearing clothing with their symbol on was almost as controversial as Siouxsie, her Banshees, and the Swastika. Terrorism, bad taste, and fascism began to surface in records, from The Pop Group calling for “Jihad!”, to the timeless “Like Leila Khaled Said” (a friend thought that Franz Ferdinand had heard that, as well as everything else!), to Throbbing Gristle’s super ironic “Zyklon Z Zombie” – a song that took the piss out of punk and “Belsen Was a Gas.” The Smiths sang of child murder and paedophilia with songs like “Handsome Devil” and “Suffer Little Children”, Lydia Lunch and Steve Severin supported the Cure with an array of feedback and PLO-samples, and the Wu-Tang Clan rapped about things “PLO-style”, which might have meant nothing in the long run. One unfortunate effect of P.C., a largely ineffective sport practiced between the Cold War and the War on Terror, is the way art was received. So, Morrissey could sing about young girl’s mammary glands or sweet and tender hooligans, but “The National Front Disco” was too far for the NME – despite the fact it’s extremely similar to XTC’s 1982 single “No Thugs in Our House” – a lesser fatwa seemed to be given to Luke Haines when he released material as baader meinhof. Maybe it was the press photographs of him at the stadium associated with the Munich Olympics and the Black September Gang? The sad thing is that one of the great albums of the 1990s – that is ‘baader meinhof’ – was rather overlooked; though I am reliably informed that 17 people across New Europe purchased it after it turned up in a list in ‘Words and Music’ by Paul Morley.

ANYWAY…Back to the issue over art and bad taste and how certain things aren’t tolerated, here’s a bit from an Unsung feature I wrote for Uncut magazine…by the time I finished it, they no longer ran that section. Anyway:

‘I find criticism of the aforementioned [the Banshees, Nail-Foetus, NWA, The Clash etc], or the album under focus [baader meinhof] fine – it’s when people want to censor art I have problems . Some people won’t read Celine, Knut Hamsen, D.H. Lawrence, Mishima, or Nietzsche due to their associations with fascism . The question might be “Is bad taste an indicator of bad art?” – surely there is a difference between Joseph Goebells forgotten novel Michael and something like Celine’s Journey to the End of the Night? Likewise, the long-running debates over Nazi-propagandist Leni Riefenstahl (still running, even a few years after her death) can’t quite undermine the fact Triumph of the Will is a masterpiece (ditto too the dubiously significant The Birth of the Nation). Was The Scream bad because Siouxsie Sioux had nodded to The Night Porter and Salon Kitty? Was Station to Station undesirable listening after Bowie’s infamous Nazi-salute? Why was Morrissey’s solo-peak between Your Arsenal and Vauxhall and I ignored – because of subject matter found in songs like “The National Front Disco” and “We’ll Let You Know”? . This was odd when the NME celebrated the mediocre You Are the Quarry (fatwa over- an album not very different to 1997’s unpopular Maladjusted), and people hadn’t thought Morrissey had advocated child-abuse or murder on such songs as “Handsome Devil” and “Suffer Little Children”…All of these arguments and notions appear to present themselves before the album can really be celebrated or presented as Unsung – baader meinhof comes with reservations then…’ Sparks sang about Hiroshima in their biggest hit “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us”, murder suspect Phil Spector penned “He Hit Me and It Felt Like a Kiss” for women to sing, and Patti Smith sang about a “Rock ‘N’ Roll Nigger.” Bad taste has to exist, could you dismiss certain records as the indoctrinated dismissed The Satanic Verses?

BAADER-MEINHOF (2)…Luke Haines decided to release the Auteurs’ e.p. “Back with the Killer Again” alongside the 7” “Baader Meinhof b/w Meet Me at the Airport”, an apparently “solid gold pop 7”, just in time for the Christmas market. This was followed in the new year of 1996 by the eponymous ‘baader meinhof’ album – 31 minutes, 11 seconds of perverse pop pleasure. With tablas. A concept album centred on the Baader Meinhof Gang seemed quite an odd one, and it was a record that appeared to be avoided, overlooked, and severely unsung about. I didn’t buy it until a few years later, my mid-1990s became bleak and ‘baader meinhof’ might not have helped. I don’t want to talk too much about the actual Baader-Meinhof gang, I might be a bit rhetorical…but I am talking about a record. For more information, try the easily found website: this is baader-meinhof .

SEVENTIES TERRORISM…2003 saw the excellent documentary ‘Baader Meinhof: In Love With Terror’ by Ben Lewis, the kind of programme that should be shown on BBC2 or BBC4 if they weren’t so blatantly commercial (I am due to break-up with the television…when Friends repeats are as good as it gets…worry!). Lewis’ documentary had a great period soundtrack that included some lovely Krautrock, notably contributions from Can – up there with the Eno used in ‘The Power of Nightmares’ – can’t someone release these documentaries on DVD? ‘Baader-Meinhof: In Love with Terror’ felt like a companion piece to the Oscar-winning documentary ‘One Day in September’ and the more recent ‘Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst’ – what is the attraction of Seventies terrorism? Lewis, interviewed on the BBC website about his rarely seen/screened documentary speculated:

Q.What was the attraction of the Baader-Meinhof gang at the time?

A. Guilt. I think young Germans were very guilty about the past and Baader-Meinhof offered them an attractive and very simple way to absolve themselves of that guilt. When we say attractive, we don’t mean they had a lot of supporters, we mean there were a lot of people who were quite attracted by them…There were only a very small number of people doing these attacks and sheltering them. But a lot of school children thought they were cool. They wore leather jackets and were full of sexy girls and were run by a sexy guy. This was the German answer to the Rolling Stones. Typically, the Germans couldn’t come up with the Rolling Stones because they have to be very serious about things; so they came up with a terrorist group rather than a rock group

- from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentaries/features/baader-meinhof.shtml

TANIA…I’m not sure I completely buy that, since there were filmmakers of the New German Cinema or bands like Can who were exploring other worlds and inner space. It sounds like good quote, but probably has lots of truth in it. Luke Haines’ invoking the Baader-Meinhof gang or Patty Hearst on Black Box Recorder’s ‘Kidnapping an Heiress’ becomes oddly prescient when we see terrorists on the media screen, the convinced Saudi bombers of 9/11, or Madonna invoking Hearst’s “Tania”-persona for the cover of her flop pop album ‘American Life.’ It’s at times like these Wings’ ‘Give Ireland Back to the Irish’ sounds like a good idea. That and follow-up single ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ were probably punk rock before punk rock….

LEILA KHALED…I guess the whole Baader-Meinhof thing was a media event, predicting how everything is a media event now, and analogous to the coverage of the Vietnam War, or the way Leila Khaled was a pin-up terrorist. The sleeve art of ‘baader meinhof’ has the lyrics emblazoned over photographs of the B-M gang, Haines’ appearing in one photo, and a strange pop effect given by the presence of the lyrics. 8 of the 10 songs here are sure fire pop hits and evidence that Haines is one of the great pop song writers. Shame that ‘Leeds United’ wasn’t a hit – I guess people don’t want to hear of the world of the Damned United and the Yorkshire Ripper?

MOGADISHU…‘baader meinhof’ by baader meinhof is a loaded album. Instrumental ‘GSG-29’ (title from West German marine style unit used during the Mogadishu hijacking) perhaps typifies things here, Haines’ great theme of the 1970s became uber apparent . This is something that would manifest itself further in his output, from the cover of ‘England Made Me’ by Black Box Recorder (glam rocker down the mines…one of the great LP covers), to songs like ‘The 1970s’, ‘Future Generation’ and ‘The Rubettes’, on to his solo albums and material like ‘Heritage Rock’ and ‘Leeds United.’ There’s even a song about the club Jonathan King frequented in the 1970s…Luke Haines’ has never got over the 1970s, which makes him a more futuristic and fun version of Morrissey, when you think about it…The lyrics here feel like a dream/nightmare/cut-in version of the Baader-Meinhof narrative, though there are lyrics that feel like Haines and the 1970s: “I remember when I was sixteen/the acid was tinged with red…”, “Oh Keith you do my head in…Oh Jackie girl, Jackie girl”, & “back on the nazz/out with the lash.” This is where you go after murder park…

ARE YOU READY FOR WAR?...There were some precedents for ‘baader meinhof’ – 1989 saw the release of what I thought was quite a dull LP by The The called ‘Mind Bomb.’ Over the years I’ve forgiven it and realised I was probably more wowed by ‘Surfer Rosa’ or early Wire at the time – half of that album seems to predict events in the Middle East, and on the single ‘Armageddon Days are Here (Again)’, Matt Johnson & co invoke The Sweet! Yes, there’s a call & response thing ripped off from ‘Ballroom Blitz’ where Johnson, Johnny Marr & James Eller open their song. It’s here that 70’s music and a certain kind of violence seem at home, though I appreciate Denim invoked certain 70s music took – combine Denim and The The and you do have things like ‘baader meinhof’ and ‘The Rubettes.’ The key examples here of this include the ironic invocation of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’ during ‘There’s Gonna Be An Accident’, which is up there with several of the Beatles’ pastiches on the recently reissued soundtrack of The Rutles. ‘Theme from “Burn Warehouse Burn” and “GSG-29” make you think of The Professionals and Blaxploitation movies, and is up there with several songs by my new favourite/defunct band, The Make Up. Maybe the heavy tabla-presence is meant to invoke some 70s types, made me think of 1970 – 1975 Miles Davis and that guy in T-Rex. & didn’t Neil Young have a few songs that invoked the SLA and Patty Hearst?

THE HATE SOCIALIST COLLECTIVE…The album begins and ends with different versions of theme song, ‘baader meinhof’, underlining a circular nature to things and giving the allure of an e.p. or a mini-LP. Haines has threatened to release a sequel album as ‘The Hate Socialist Collective’, or a second baader meinhof record. Either would have been nice during the Blair years, when that mass-murdering botherer of god thought the problem was with people inciting terrorism. A cull of The Secret Agent, that poster of Che, the history of the American Civil War, The Battle of Algiers, The Riddle of the Sands, Easter Rising, Nelson Mandela, the Irgun, The Crying Game, The Quiet American, and much much more would occur if we failed to recognise that grey area. Here’s hoping that grey area is recognised, and that things shouldn’t be censored for inciting terrorism. The exploitation of an act of terrorism in NYC has bizarrely created a mass of terrorism in the Middle East and in certain European countries. Blaming books hasn’t helped that, and reading the riveting The Looming Tower, it’s odd when a writer cited by Islamic fundamentalists in this present day is hung by Nasser. That over familiar Voltaire quote might be apt around now…

HEIMAT…The first ‘baader meinhof’ sets the tone, suggesting that Luke Haines might be his generation’s Andrew Lloyd Webber: ‘Baader-Meinhof: the Musical’ must surely be opening soon in the West End? Haines sings of the “child of Eva”, which I’m guessing is a reference to Hitler’s wife? He also sings of rich kids with machine guns, “Al Fateh in Palestine against the P.L.O” and Jordan. Haines sings of border towns, Captain Muhmad and Al Fatah…the future would offer prison time, their actions forgotten, and maybe populist thriller padding in the novels of Craig Thomas and a blockbuster movie like Die Hard (…which mentions a B-M type terror gang). Recent news stories, when a B-M gang member was released, and films like ‘The Edukators’ or the second ‘Heimat’ remind you of the effect of Baader-Meinhof on West Germany and pop culture.

THIS IS THE PETRA SCHELM COMMANDO…Haines sings of the Eastern Bloc, vodka & aspirin, bank robberies and the martyrdom of Petra Schelm… ‘Mogadishu’ takes the album into alien plains, a tabla-dominated song that has judicious strings and a strange electronic noise that recalls the into to ‘Ghosts’ by Japan and/or a failing life support system…it climaxes the first side of the album and takes us to the centre of a record which is more instrumental (‘…Warehouse…’ is kind of Haines rapping…really!). ‘Mogadishu’ feels like Haines on LSD, imagining Kamikaze souls and a Mother Ship above…the chorus feels like a chorus – “Captain Martyr Mahmoud says “It’s a 24-hour flight/When the fireworks hit you: Mogadishu [am assuming the fireworks are something to do with the GSG-29?]/On a beautiful Saturday night.” This is the kind of song that Girls Aloud or the Sugababes should be singing…imagine…consider that there are pop allusions to the Baader-Meinhof in Steven Spielberg’s ¾ decent ‘Munich’, it wouldn’t be that out of place.

BACK ON THE NAZZ…The second half of the album begins with ‘…It’s a Moral Issue’, glam rock riffs and strings come to the fore – on the chanting “chorus” you hear where Radiohead borrowed some of their “Disneyweird” schtick from. Bradbury & co offer some great Balanescu gone minimalist stuff, as Haines drifts into the surreal and exact: “Someone had a bright idea, but it did not adhere/Colindale is now a police college/I was born 20 miles from there…” ‘Back on the Farm’ sounds like The Kinks after too much of the ‘Get Carter’-soundtrack and a bit of trip-hop – the martyrdom of Petra Schelm recurring…

AK-47…The highlight of the second half remains ‘Kill Ramirez’, something like the greatest pop song ever and one that has lyrics over a photo of the gorgeous Leila Khaled brandishing an AK-47…That smile…those exploding planes…that skin…that machine gun…those cheekbones…that uniform…(…I should point out here that my interest in the Baader-Meinhof gang probably stems from the fact I have resembled many of the male members in every passport type photo taken since the late 90s…). Haines plays the sharp end of glam rock, a place that Josef Ferdinand have no doubt covered in Post-Punk101, as he sings of “Patrick Arguetto, Leila Khaled disappeared into the tail end of the plane…” The second version of the title track is superior to the opening take, with the kind of guitar you wish Lou Reed would play, and an extension on the lyrics of the opening take. “I had a dream it was the end of the Seventies…I had a dream that every dog has its day…”

TONY BLAIR: MASS MURDERER & PRETTY STRAIGHT KIND OF GUY…‘baader meinhof’ is undoubtedly one of my favourite records. Luke Haines has made several of my favourite albums and singles, so that may not mean much…but this record was lost in the 90s. I can associate. These days, I’m of the mind that Haines’ latest (‘Off My Rocker at the Art School Bop’) , ‘After Murder Park’, ‘The Facts of Life’, and ‘How I Learned to Love the Bootboys’ are the best records he’s been associated with. Then again, I always have time for this record…as I dream of a reverse world where the UK lost the war and brave freedom fighters include Jack Straw, John Reid, and Anthony Blair. I’ve always loathed parallel worlds…Anyway, this is an example of a musician following through on an idea and making something as he apparently had to. Direct from the abyss…this is the Hate Socialist Collective.

NOTE- the three-disc compilation features the limited 7” that was “I’ve Been a Fool for You”, which really should be a bonus track on the deluxe box-set reissue, and two period-mixes of ‘Mogadishu’ and ‘There’s Gonna Be An Accident’, which were dull, but nice to have been included for the sake of completists.

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