573 words on Music
Let’s have a look how we got here: First there were the Libertines. Ever since hearing What a Waster on a compilation CD (the other) Dan sent me before their music was even released in Germany, I knew I love that band. Powerful, noisy, brilliant. Not as perfect as The Strokes, say, but with that extra bit of roughness that seems lost on so many other bands. Back then I had to get the CD and see them play and it was great. Time passed, compilations CDs in their honour were made, sophomore albums were awaited and listened to without too much disappointment and then the whole heroin, prison and theft stories started being around.
I considered that tragic in a way as those tore apart one of the most promising current bands. And because I don’t consider it a bad thing that I won’t read about bands I like in the daily press. Particularly on their ‘panorama’ pages. But that’s exactly what happened. For the past year it’s been Pete Doherty here, Pete Doherty there, drugs, cancelled gigs… and his new band, Babyshambles or Baby Shambles as they write in some places.
That name came up for the first time for some preliminary playing of some new songs of the Libertines. Those used to be available on the net but seem to be hard to get hold of in public now. Some of the songs of those sessions, like the wonderful Last Post on the Bugle or The man who would be King made it to The Libertines’ sophomore album, while others are part of the Babyshambles’ repertoire now.
And Babyshambles, aka Pete Doherty’s Libertines split-off released their first record, Down in Albion, now. It includes goodies from those old sessions, like, err, Albion which they turned from something charming into something moderately boring for the purpose, next to Killamangiro which apparently was quite a successful single in the UK to many other songs.
In total you can listen to the album, but it’s not particularly great. It starts of brilliantly with La Belle et la Bête, featuring the charming Kate Moss singing
is she more beautiful than me, continues powerfully with the Fuck Forever single and then starts drifting into averageness and mild boredom via the slightly annoying A’rebours. There are relative highlights in there, with Killamangiro being OK (and Track 7 of course) or Albion as mentioned above, but those aren’t of the Libertines brilliance we got to love. A song that still irritates me like hell is Pentonville. It just doesn’t fit in. And it’s style makes me thing that it should’ve been sung by Harry Belafonte…
Finally there’s the issue of credibility. While I on a good day I might think that certain people’s drug ‘habits’ are tragic, I tend to just not care. Meaning I don’t want to know about it. And with all the yellow press-ish ‘coverage’ going on it looks more like a little marketing ploy anyway. In fact, the whole Babyshambles CD looks just a little to well done in its assembly of ‘authentic’ snippets and most of its songs sound a bit too boring, average, long and numerous for rock-n-roll. Let’s say that I didn’t expect too much and my expectations were met.
I still think it’s a bit tragic. And I like the little hooded bear on the cover art.
[Somewhat related: Dirty Pretty Things – Waterloo to Anywhere]
I wish I could remember who said this, so I could give proper credit, but a snarky music writer once referred to heroin addiction as “the rock and roll equivalent of the common cold” — in other words, “yeah, you’re a junkie, whatever, move on.”