Is anybody there? Former REM man (a handy name to drop when you need it) Peter Buck and The Auteurs’ Luke Haines combine on Beat Poetry For Survivalists – a record that’s delightfully off-kilter.
Release Date: 6th March 2020
Label: Cherry Red Records
Formats: CD, LP, DL
It’s not, but it could even/almost be the REM monster (from the mid-eighties album) hanging by its feet that graces the cover. Nonetheless, that’s perhaps the closest this album comes to being a replacement for the late lamented combo from Athens Ga.
To be truthful, it doesn’t seem to be too far from Haines’ own work that’s very much on the same (or the next) page. To our ears, it rings bells with the famous Yorkshire wordsmith, Jarvis Cocker and Vinny Peculiar (who Wikipedia tells us has worked with Haines). Check out Haines’ New York In The 70’s album and the lo-fi buzz on his Lou Reed Lou Reed. He also does paintings of Lou Reed; Buck bought one and the rest is a minor story/trivia buff part of history.
It’s a sort of spoken word style that Roger Waters often reverts to with his rants but with the subject matter covering songs about legendary rocket scientist and occultist Jack Parsons, The Enfield Hauntings of 1978, a post-apocalyptic radio station that only plays Donovan records, Bigfoot, and Pol Pot. Just that sort of random thought process and reference that makes Beat Poetry for Survivalists something to savour and so essential.
So Jack Parsons (who walks on Mars) kicks things off with a plethora of references and we take a trip to Apocalypse Beach where we meet (not surprisingly) Donovan Leitch, encounter a season of the witch in a dreamy wash with the odd acoustic strum and electronic squall. A taste of things to come which evolves into snaking tribal and distorted guitar pieces and the irresistible title track – just try getting rid of the “smoke weed in America” (possibly injected with a sixties Dylan .sneer) ear worm…. Along the journey, you’ll also encounter everyone from Liberace to Mother Russia, Tout Mask Replica tote bags and Johnny, Joey, DeeDee and Tommy (Ramone of course).
Yes, there are elements of the bizarre – French Man Glam Gang sticks out – but it’s hard not to resist referencing Mr Buck’s past so, yes, Bobby’s Wild Years has glimpses of the sort of REM Monster era overdriven guitar and while we’re on influences, Rock ‘N’ Roll Ambulance could be something from the pen of Ian Hunter.
Ultimately, Beat Poetry For Survivalists is great fun; a whole batch of tongue in cheekiness spread in four minute parcels where musically anything goes.
Luke Haines and Peter Buck will be touring the UK in April 2020, including Hebden Bridge Trades Club on the 13th April, and two shows at 100 Club in London on the 15th and 16th April.
Watch the Jack Parsons lyric video here: