I reckon most of you will know by now what today is all about. If not, please scroll down a few days and catch up on the tale of why one of Scotland's greatest musicians is being highlighted today by a number of bloggers from around the world.
Paul Haig first came to prominence in late 1979 as the lead singer with Josef K, an Edinburgh-band that were signed to the legendary Glasgow-based label, Postcard Records (and who said folk from the two cities can't ever get on?)
Unlike label-mates Orange Juice and Aztec Camera who went on to enjoy great success on majors in subsequent years, Josef K (described by one critic as a cross between Captain Beefheart and Chic) called it a day when Postcard folded.
Paul Haig embarked on a solo career in 1982, which was tipped by many to be massive. He warned the fans of his band that his solo stuff wouldn’t be Josef K Mk II, but instead have far more of a dance-feel and be a really polished production in keeping with the times. The early singles came out on the Belgian-based label Crepescule, and indeed for a short period of time, Paul moved to Brussels, during which time he also recorded a mini-LP of cover versions of old swing/jazz numbers.
But there was a great deal of interest among the majors, and events moved so quickly a planned single and the swing LP were put on the shelf to allow a deal to be signed with Island Records for the recording and release of the debut LP. Paul flew to New York to work with some of the world’s best session musicians and record his debut solo record under the guidance of hip and trendy mixer/producer Alex Sadkin, who had previous experience of producing, among others, Bob Marley, Grace Jones, Robert Palmer and Duran Duran.
Despite the advance warnings on a change of direction, the incredibly polished sound on opening single Heaven Sent – an unreleased Josef K song – was too much for the purists who wanted guitars, guitars and more guitars – and the janglier the better.
This fantastic piece of dance music died on its arse reaching a very disappointing #74 in the charts in May 1983. Three subsequent singles, as well as the parent LP - Rhythm Of Life - also bombed. The situation wasn't helped by the emergence of guitar-led bands like The Smiths (not to mention the afore-mentioned success of his former pals on Postcard) that allowed the music papers to blissfully ignore music with synthesisers....nor were things helped bythe fact that Paul and Island Records weren't seeing eye-to-eye as he stubbornly refused to play along with their efforts to make him less of a musician and more of a pop star.
Rhythm Of Life is not an album recalled with much fondness by Paul Haig, but I still reckon its a fantastic pop/dance/electro record packed with tunes that, in their day had me throwing shapes on the dance-floor of the student discos, and even now will have me shaking my creaky shoulders in affection.
Paul continued to record and release albums in the remainder of the 80s and early 90s, both as a solo artist and with the likes of Billy Mackenzie. Indeed, his second solo album, The Warp Of Pure Fun (the title of which is surely a dig at everyone at Island Records) from 1985 is another great pop/dance/electro piece of class.
For what its worth, I think his first two solo LPs came out just a few years too soon to achieve popular or critical acclaim. By 1988, dance and disco music was trendy again. Aside from being really upbeat and joyous records, there’s some really mellow stuff that would have fitted in perfectly with the Ibiza scene as captured by the likes of The Sun Rising by The Beloved.
Among all of this, a 1992 release, Cinematique - Themes For Unknown Films - showed his talents as a composer and arranger, although it was a piece of work that many of us missed out at the time due to the very low-key nature of its release (I finally picked up a copy about three years ago!). Paul has since released another two volumes along these lines, and then in 2007, he issued his first single in 14 years in the shape of Reason, which as I mentioned in a posting just the other day was single of the week on Radio 2.
The past couple of years has seen Paul release more new material as well as play some live dates for the first time in an eternity, and there's the promise of much more in 2009.
As you'll gather, Paul Haig's career has had loads of ups and downs, and naturally enough with it now stretching out to 30 years, there has been some stuff that I reckon isn't as good as others - but that will purely be a matter of taste. He's been long overdue a proper recognition of his place in the history of Scottish pop music, and in my mind has been just as influential and important as the likes of the better-known Edwyn Collins, Billy Mackenzie, Lloyd Cole and Roddy Frame.
I said in a posting back in February 2007 that I reckoned Franz Ferdinand could in some ways be described as a Josef K tribute band - and that was something I meant as praise for the Glasgow-band (who in February 2007 could do no wrong, but the backlash is hitting them now two years on). For those in the 18-25 age-group who who thought Alex Kopranos was the epitomy of cool in the mid-part of this decade, just roll back the years to the mid 80s and you'll find there were a lot us who looked upon Paul Haig in the exact same way.
The man is a living legend. Here's a Magnificent 7:-
mp3 : Paul Haig - Justice
(this is the 7" version scheduled to come out on Crepuscule, but which was shelved because of the Island Records tie-up. It's also known as Justice 82)
mp3 : Paul Haig - The Only Truth
(a single from the 1985 LP The Warp Of Pure Fun, and a track that has Bernard Sumner on guitar and part-productions duties)
mp3 : Paul Haig - Let's Fact The Music And Dance
(from the Swing In 82 LP)
mp3 : Paul Haig - Something Good
(from the 1989 LP, Chain)
mp3 : Paul Haig - I Believe In You (Life In A Dolphinarium Mix)
(12" single, released in 1990)
mp3 : Paul Haig - Somewhere Inbetween
(from the 1992 LP Cinematique)
mp3 : Paul Haig - Reason
(7" single, released in 2007)
Click on this official site and buy some product.
Click here to buy some older stuff.
And visit these blogs to read more and hear more.
Condemned To Rock'n'Roll has posted Justice, Silent Motion, Something Good (10" mix), and Reason
Tracklister - has posted Reason and Heaven Sent
The World According To Davenelli has posted Born Innocence
Acid Ted has posted Flight X, My Kind, I Believe In You (mix) and Reason
Exile On Moan Street - has posted Reason
Across The Kitchen Table has posted Chance Meeting
17 Seconds - has posted Reason
Flippin Kids features Running Away
Love Shack, Baby has posted Reason
Castles In Space (unable to post at this point in time)
Blogger's Delite has posted songs from the LP Chain
How Does That One Go Again? - has posted Justice (on Saturday 2nd April)
Aye Tunes has been frustrated by technology but still managed to give Paul Haig day a plug
Sexy Loser - has posted Crazy To Exist along with the most incredible bio of Paul.....
Armagideon Time has posted Reason and Sorry For Laughing (as well as designing a fantastic cartoon to celebrate Paul haig day)
A Sweet Unrest - has posted Reason
The Songs That People Sing has posted Give Me Time, Thunderstorm, Take A Chance, Listen To Me, and Listen Again
Sunset Over Slawit - has posted Reason and Ghost Rider
Manic Pop Thrills has provided a fine write-up
Song, By Toad has posted Reason and Let's Face The Music And Dance (and written something quite special)
London Cafe : The Best Of UK Indie has posted Reason
Helpless Dancer - has posted Endless Song and Beyond Love
Jock'n'Roll has posted Reason (on Sunday 5th April)
Plain or Pan? has posted Sorry For Laughing
The Mixed Up World Of Herbal T has posted Thunderstorm
Europecrazy has posted Big Blue World and The Only Truth
Winston's Zen has posted Reason
Battery In Your Leg has posted Reason (and called me 'a musical archaeologist'!!!!)
Chicago Is Mildly Interesting has posted Reason
Scenesters And Mirror Kisses has posted Heaven Sent and Reason
The Hangover Helper has posted Reason and Something Good
The event has also been promoted or mentioned at the jockrock website, on widgetbox, at Travelling Luck, at the Electric Roulette website, on Indie Blips , on Mogadonia and at various points throughout the day on the elbo and Hype Machine aggregators. One of the DJs at WEXT radio station broadcasting out of Albany, New York gave us a mention and played Paul Haig records!!
The ever-reliable and wonderful Marcy over at Lost In Your Inbox has wished us all Happy Paul Haig day.
That's 24 hours since I put up the posting, and I'm completely overwhelmed with the support given by so many bloggers and others from across the world.
I can only say thank you ever so much. I have tried to leave a comment on all of your own blogs, and I will, before the week is over, get round to sending an individual e-mail out to you all.
I dont know if your involvement today has led to an increase in the number of hits/visitors to your place - I get about 700 hits on a good day....today it was 863!
One thing I do know is that a lot of folk got to read about Paul Haig today and listen to some of the astounding music he has made over the past 30 years. And as Matthew at Song, By Toad said in his contribution, feel free to show your appreciation for the support Paul has given to bloggers and music fans in general by buying something back from the ROL site.