#369 ‘The Rubettes’ by the Auteurs (27 Oct)

Album: How I Learned to Love the Bootboys, 1999

Justification: This remains one of my all-time favourite songs from one of my all-time favourite bands, on the worst album they made.

By the time the Auteurs recorded their fourth and final album, it was all over bar the twitching. The long-term relationship between singer/songwriter/guitarist Luke Haines and bassist Alice Readman was on its last legs and she left the band and Haines shortly after the album was done. Haines was also struggling to give enough of a shit to write an album’s worth of material – all three of the Auteurs’ previous efforts were masterpieces, yet #3, the Steve Albini-produced After Murder Park, had somehow failed to change the world despite being the best record ever made in it. Haines sounded demoralised, exhausted and ready to ring down the curtain on his band in favour of pastures new.

This was the album’s opener and lead single. It’s a song about loving songs (specifically, about loving ‘Sugar Baby Love’ by titular one-hit wonders the Rubettes) and could almost be interpreted as the first effort by Haines’ next band, Black Box Recorder: it’s co-written with former Jesus & Mary Chain sideman John Moore, Haines’ BBR songwriting partner, and features soon-to-be lead vocalist Sarah Nixey’s breathy backing vocals. It set a standard that the rest of the album couldn’t maintain, although the title track’s great and the bit of me that loves post-modernity has a soft spot for the Haines-self-referencing ‘Some Changes’ and especially ‘Future Generations’ (in which Haines insists that, while contemporary listeners never got him, posterity would understand).

Haines is one of the surprisingly few of my hand-on-my-heart heroes I’ve never interviewed, nor seen live. These facts disappoint me.

Incidentally, his Britpop memoir, Bad Vibes, is freakin’ superb.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2010: Awww! It was #150, which was ‘Rain’ by the Beatles. Oh, the memories…

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