Album Review: Paul Haig

Paul Haig Kube

Paul Haig -‘Kube’ (Rhythm Of Life)

Paul Haig first made his name as lead singer of Josef K, rightly acknowledged as one of the most influential bands in Britain. That was the early 1980s; he has had a successful solo career, of which Kube is his twelfth album.

Interviewing him about this album*, he told me that he feels he’s found his voice – finally! -with this album. Kube is perhaps the most experimental records that he has made in his decades-long career. So it’s not about anthems in the vein of Josef K singles like ‘It’s Kinda Funny’ or ‘Sorry For Laughing’ or ‘Trip Out The Rider’ from his last album, Relive.

It may not be as immediate as some of his other work, but what we have here is a record that on each successive play reveals something else. He’s been playing around with new technology, and the end result is an extremely cohesive exploration of technology married with his ability to write brilliant songs.

Produced, written and played entirely by himself, here is twenty-first century pop music that’s not looking back. First single ‘UW2B’/’Red Rocks’ gives you an idea of what you might expect but don’t deny yourself: take the time to check out one of the most exciting and unusual albums you may hear this year.


Kube is out now on Rhythm Of Life

*my new interview with Paul Haig will appear here shortly. In the meantime, here is a link to the interview I did in 2009 when Relive came out.

Paul Haig Day II


I’m proud to be taking part in Paul Haig Day II, wherein we pay tribute to one of the most talented singers and musicians ever to emerge out of Scotland.

Paul Haig was the lead singer in Josef K, the seminal Edinburgh band, who were at the forefront of Scotland’s post-punk scene, along with bands like the Scars, the Fire Engines, Orange Juice, Aztec Camera and most famous of all, the Associates, featuring Paul’s best friend, the late Billy Mackenzie. When Josef K split in 1981, the band’s guitarist Malcolm Ross joined Orange Juice. It was that sort of scene.

Paul Haig has had a fine solo career subsequently, and the last decade saw Josef K start to get their dues as Franz Ferdiannd, probably the most important Scottish band of the decade, paid tribute to them (and indeed the Fire Engines). The sleeve notes to the fine Entomology compilation album pay tribute to Franz Ferdinand ‘without whom this release may never have seen the light of day.’

In March 2009, my friend JC, who writes The Vinyl Villain (who single-handedly has got me into Mr. Haig’s solo career) found himself the subject of a DMCA take-down post. Both Paul and his manager Euan got in touch with Jim to say they were bemused by this, as they had not asked for a takedown. In fact, Paul was totally up for bloggers to make tracks of his available for download. So April 6 2009 became the first Paul Haig day, and because of the success of this, JC has repeated this and made today Paul Haig Day II. no less than thirty five blogs are taking part.

In the time between, Paul has released another fine solo album , entitled Relive and I was dead chuffed to be the first person to interview him about the album (this was according to the man himself. It was chance rather than design, but pretty cool, nonetheless). He’s a very friendly person in the flesh and a pleasure to chat to.You can read the review of the album here, the interview here and my review for Go Out Tonight over at Is This Music?

So…some mp3s, then!

First up, the opening track on his most recent album:

Paul Haig -‘Trip Out the Rider.’ mp3

An remix of the track being made available through bloggers this week:

Paul Haig -‘Trip Out the Rider (remix).’ mp3

and a Josef K classic:

Josef K -‘Sorry For Laughing.’ mp3

Interview: Paul Haig


I must confess to having been slightly nervous about the thought of interviewing Paul Haig. Not because I think he’s going to be a terrifying interviewee, like some artists have a reputation for being, but more because I’m quite in awe of the man. Formerly lead singer of the legendary Josef K, and one of the prime movers on the Scottish independent scene, he has made some seminal records. But on meeting him at Southern X Cafe on Edinburgh’s Cockburn St, he immediately puts me at my ease, and gives me a copy of his latest album, Relive. Not for him the stuffy musician who demands that reviewers listen to the album in painstaking detail before they’ll grant an interview.

First of all, let’s start with the new album. This has actually come out about eighteen months after your last album. How long has it been in the making?

It was quite quick. I managed to get it together in about three months. Pretty intensive recording and writing, but I had quite a few songs from the past. I was going through my old archives, and I thought ‘there are some songs that have never been properly released,’ so that kind of inspired me to make a ten track, in-your-face album. I wanted to stick to that, I wanted to work with the discipline, not getting carried away with any long mixes.

This is a step away from a lot of the stuff you’ve done under the Rhythm Of Life umbrella since you went solo. Would you say it was the most ‘rock-orientated’ of your solo stuff?

Yeah, definitely. I think the last three albums I’ve started to warble again, to use my voice. It’s been a progression; from the first one electronic, the second one a mish-mash and this one…yeah, you could call it a rock album, I grimace to say, but it is.

Is there something about the term ‘rock’? You say you’re grimacing…

It’s just the term ‘rock’! [laughs]

…Can I just ask: Have you read the book Rip It Up And Start Again, which mentions both Josef K and your solo career?Is that an era you look back on nostalgically?

Yeah, I do now.

There was a sense at the time…One of the terms, I think it was coined by Pete Wylie of Wah!, the term of the idea ‘rockist’ – I wondered if there was something about that…

It’s not about the term, it’s just me saying it. In the early eighties, when we were all branching into shiny electronic pop, there was a kind of anti-rockist thing. We didn’t want anything to be like fusty, old rock, even punk rock. Whereas rock now…it’s indie-rock, so it’s okay.I never thought I’d be doing it again, but it’s good fun. I just get inspired by guitars.

You’re still actually based in Edinburgh. Did you ever move up to the big smoke?

I stayed in London many times. The record companies would put me in service flats, on and off, I lived in Brussels at one point, but I love Edinburgh. You don’t have to be in the big smoke, meet the right people…

From where I’m standing, I’ve been in Edinburgh for eight years, there seems to be a lot more confidence in actually staying in Scotland to do stuff. There seems to be a lot of people who are really pleased that Franz Ferdinand still haven’t moved to London three albums in. Even singing in their own accents… I realise that taking the piss out of the Proclaimers is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel, but twenty years ago, it was unusual to hear anyone singing in their own accent. Stuart Adamson didn’t seem to want to…there’s a new level of confidence.

Before that you had people like Alex Harvey, which were definitely pretty broad accents, but there weren’t many, no. The whole thing about being independent…It’s easier to make music now, you don’t have to have a huge budgets or record companies.

We briefly discuss how things have changed with the advent of the internet and how this has freed things up, acknowledging that the freedom that the internet gives us may not be with us forever.

I think it’s great, it’s a very good thing. When I started making solo stuff in Josef K, I started making cassettes, cassettes to cassettes, and then releasing an independent cassette! Whereas now, there’s downloading.. I’m impatient, I like things to feel available now.

The DIY thing has come around again. When the Desperate Bicycles put out ‘Smokescreen’ back in 1977, they put on the back ‘It was simple, it was cheap, now go and do it.’

It’s punk rock with technology, isn’t it? It’s the attitude. You don’t have to be technically too talented to do it, which I think is good as well.

When you did the album, playing guitars, did you play the entire thing yourself?

It all started with the first singing album again, I got more interested in playing again. I find myself playing new riffs that I could have written when I was eighteen. It was finished a few months ago, but if you’re going to give it three months, you have to give it time for the press to work it.

On the album there’s a track called ‘Round and Round’ written with Malcolm Ross. Have you written recently with Malcolm Ross?

No, that goes back to about seventeen years ago. He’s used it on his solo album. This time, I thought I should try and go for my most coherent album, which I think we got, because my albums are usually all over the place.

In the early eighties, there was a pub called The Tap in Lauriston, in Edinburgh, long since disappeared…

Yeah, it was raised to the ground a few years ago. Everyone and every band that you could think of, The Fire Engines, The Scars and the Associates, anyone who was doing anything…It’s about time [that there was an equivalent] because that was a hell of a long time ago.

I show him some of the Paul Haig vinyl of the last thirty years that I’ve brought along to the interview.

That’s like another person, it’s so old, it’s kind of surreal!

Do you miss being on a major record label?

Not really, no! If you’re able to do exactly what you want to do, that’s great. Even with budgets you’d get quite a bit of interference from A&R departments wanting to listen to things. You’d have that afternoon when someone was coming along, even one would be a bit nervous and they’d be saying ‘Maybe you should mix it like that’ not because they were being any help but because it was their money.

Is artistic freedom more important than a big budget?

Yeah, it really is. I think it’s really important after you’ve been doing it for so long. For me, now, there’s a certain amount of people that buy my stuff, and like it, and that’s just brilliant. It’s great to know that people are waiting for the next thing.

There’s been a revival of interest in bands from the same era as Josef K, which has seen long unavailable stuff re-issued. I’m thinking of people like Scritti Politti, the Scars, the Prats, the Fire Engines…there is a theory that bands like Franz Ferdinand, particularly in Scotland, have reignited a lot of interest. Do you think that’s true?

Yeah, I do. I don’t think Domino would have approached us to do Entymology, if it hadn’t been for Franz Ferdinand. Obviously there were some people that were interested. In the early days when Franz Ferdinand were just breaking through, I had people that were quite annoyed, saying ‘Oh, they’ve just ripped you off completely.’ We’ve all had our influences, and if you track back, you see what they were interested in.

After Josef K folded, one notable cover was Propaganda’s cover of ‘Sorry For Laughing.’

Yeah, I think Paul Morley had a lot to do with that, but it was interesting.

Interesting rather than flattering?!

Oh, very flattering! An interesting version, so far removed [from our version], but interesting to see what they did. There’s been a couple of versions of ‘Sorry for Laughing’ and a band from Bristol did ‘It’s Kinda Funny.’

A few weeks later, the album is now out. It’s been getting some great reviews and deservedly so. We chatted for an hour about the state of music, and his friendship with Billy MacKenzie, who he clearly still misses very much. Whilst there have been occasional live dates, he doesn’t play live much – and there are no live dates on his myspace page. Paul Haig is clearly a treasure, and Scotland’s current healthy music scene owes much to his work over the last thirty years.

Relive is out now on Rhythm Of Life

Paul Haig -‘Trip Out The Rider.’ mp3

Album Review – Paul Haig


Paul Haig -‘Relive’ (Rhythm Of Life)

Paul Haig follows up his last album Come Out Tonight a mere eighteen months later. And as many reviews have attested, it’s an absolutely brilliant record. Whilst I enjoyed Go Out Tonight very much, this is an excellent album that outclasses its’ predecessor.

Much of the work that Mr. Haig has produced since Josef K split in the early 1980s has been electronic based, rather than guitar based. Interviewing him recently, he acknowledged that this is more guitar heavy, and it shows that he is still a fantastic songwriter. Having come out of the same early eighties scene in Edinburgh that was also host to the likes of the Scars, The Fire Engines and The Associates, it’s good to see that following on from Malcolm Ross’s critically acclaimed collaboration with The Low Miffs, his former bandmate is also showing the young ‘uns just how it’s done.

Because right from the opening ‘Trip Out The Rider,’ a song that sounds like he’s banged together the collective heads of Franz Ferdinand and Girls Aloud, this album commands your attention. The title track’s brief elctronic introduction makes way for song that has as much punch and swagger as John Wayne swaggering into town. There’s a rock aspect here to his work that might have been downplayed on some of his earlier work, but comes to the fore here, all on his own terms. The only possible weak track is ‘Listen To Me’ but overall this album is a thoroughly warm listen, demonstrating that when names like Collins, Henderson and Frame are dropped into the conversation, so should that of Mr. Haig.


Relive is out now on Rhythm Of Life.

Paul Haig -‘Trip Out The Rider.’ mp3

Read The Vinyl Villain’s review over here.

Everybody needs a 303


The latest issue of The Wire arrived today. Maybe it was the appearance of Julian Cope on the front – but my brain suddenly started obsessing about the Roland 303, that legendary squelchy synth, responsible for some of the best bass ever that wasn’t played on a, well, bass.

The Wire does some wonderful primers that have led to me seeking out all manner of wonderful stuff I haven’t really heard before whether it’s been digital reggae or psychedelic folk. So…in honour of one of the most legendary bits of kit ever, and based on some records I tracked down, ladies and gentlemen: fifteen classic cuts featuring the 303:

From the days when it was starting to make its’ presence felt; if only in the background…

Blancmange -‘Living On The ceiling.’ mp3

Paul Haig -‘Justice.’ mp3

Orange Juice -‘Rip It Up.’ mp3

It starts to come to the forefront…

Alexander Robotnik -‘Problemes d’Amour.’ mp3

Heaven 17 -‘Let Me Go.’ mp3

Shannon -‘Let The Music Play.’ mp3

It could’ve been a contender in the Hip-Hop scene, it just seems that (largely) it wasn’t…except for these tracks…

Ice-T -‘Squeeze The Trigger.’ mp3

Mantronix -‘Bassline.’ mp3

However, it really shapes early acid house…including these three tracks, generally recognised as being the first three tracks from that scene in the US…

Sleazy D- ‘ I’ve Lost control.’ mp3

Phuture -‘Acid Trax.’ mp3

Armando -‘Land Of Confusion.’ mp3

…and acid house comes to the UK, becomes the biggest counter-cultural movement since punk and frightens the moral majority.

Baby Ford -‘Oochy Koochy.’ mp3

Humanoid -‘Stakker Humanoid 12″.’ mp3

Into the nineties, the dance scene pulls in hundreds of different directions, and most people struggle to keep up with what’s what. Especially those of us who got distracted by grunge and britpop. But some classic stuff takes the 303 into the decade…

Hardfloor -‘Acperience.’ mp3

…and the dance music of the Britpop era…big beat!

Fatboy Slim -‘Everybody Needs a 303.’ mp3

A Paul Haig rarity


I have JC over at the Vinyl Villain to thank for kindling an interest in me of Paul Haig’s work beyond Josef K. Paul Haig and his manager were also enormously supportive of the bloggers who focused on his work on April 6 of this year.

A week or so ago, I picked this up in Avalanche in Edinburgh, pretty reasonably, to get it home and disocver that a) it’s very good, and b) mint copies are going for quite scary money. The single isn’t listed in the great indie Discography Josef K/Paul Haig section, but I rather like it.

Credited to ‘Rhythm Of Life’, the sleeve lists just Stephen Harrison on voice, guitar and lyrics, and Paul Haig as ‘other instruments and voice.’ The Discogs site notes that ‘Recorded as a one off single for Rational Records (Rate 6) although in effect this was the first Rhythm Of Life release. Label descibed on the product as Rhythm Of Life Records – Rate/6 Rhythm 001.’

Anybody know anything more about this record? Released in March 1981, so must have been one of the first post-Josef K released Paul Haig was involved in…

Rhythm Of Life – ‘Soon.’ mp3

Rhythm Of Life -‘Summertime.’ mp3

Paul Haig’s official website/Paul Haig myspace

Paul Haig – Vinyl Villain Solidarity day


Yes folks, it is April 6 and today is tell the world about Paul Haig and support JC at the Vinyl Villain day.

For more about this story, scroll down the page and find out what it’s all about.

Paul Haig is happy for the blogs to host this track. If you like it, go and buy music by Paul Hiag and/or his old band, Josef K.

Paul Haig -‘Reason.’ mp3

Remember – mp3 blogs promote artists, we are not here to destroy their careers.

Getting ready for Paul Haig day on the blogs


I have maintained many times before that for most people the internet is how people find out about bands and that just because people might download a track for free it doesn not mean they won’t support the artist.

Now there have been some people who have been idiotic about this but fortunately most people see sense. However, my friend JC who writes one of my favourite blogs, The Vinyl Villain, got targeted by an ISP even though Paul Haig and his manager were happy for JC to host the track.

So Monday April 6 is Paul Haig day across the blogs.


Basic premise: Blogs being targetted randomly by ISP’s to take down music where artists are happy about receiving the extra coverage. Paul Haig gave a free track ‘Reason’ to the vinyl villain to give away in support of the bloggers network and to test his theory abut random notices being served.

In thanks the bloggers have agreed to make April 6 Paul Haig Day. As many bloggers will make ‘Reason’ available on their blogs as possible.

Blogs are essential promo tools for all artists as music comes recommended.

Most artists express the view that as many people should be able to hear their music as possible by whatever means. The fan will then go to a concert or buy back catalogue get the vinyl or even the new cd. The Internet is just like radio was 20 years ago…kind of!

If you have a great track the best method of getting it heard is over the net – where word is spread by the real music fans – Hearing new music is based on recommendation not by mass advertising budgets….unless you are U2, blogs or free music on the net is got to be the future…

Evan Label Manager ROLinc

JC (who is a personal friend) writes:

“If you go stumbling around music blogs on the Internet on Monday 6th April, there’s a reasonable chance you’ll find someone saying good things about Paul Haig, arguably the greatest pop star to ever have come out of Edinburgh.

So far, some 25 bloggers have decided that next Monday should be designated ‘Paul Haig Day’ and will be featuring posts about the musician whose career goes back almost 30 years to the days when Postcard Records were The Sound of Young Scotland.

This sudden upsurge of interest in the former Josef K lead singer is no accident, and is the result of a number of music fans, not all of whom know much about Paul Haig, wanting to thank him for taking a stand and encouraging bloggers to keep on doing what they do.

Bloggers have come under increasing attack in recent times, thanks to many in the music industry using the draconian measures of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), an American piece of legislation signed by President Clinton in 1998 which insists that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must remove material that appears to constitute copyright infringment.

So, if a music industry lawyer discovers a blogger has posted an mp3 of a song without permission, they can contact the ISP, claim they represent the individual or organisation with the copyright and demand the offending material be removed. Fair enough you might say…

But, the law is such that anyone can use DMCA to demand a takedown without having to prove that they have ownership of the copyright, and the ISP have no option but to comply – it has even been proven that where musicians have expressly given support for their song to be highlighted on a blog, an anoymous DMCA request has seen the mp3 removed.

Such was the case last month when ‘The Vinyl Villain’ blog, one that has been running since September 2006 and almost exclusively looks back to music of the 80s and 90s, featured ‘Blue For You’, one of the early solo singles by Paul Haig. The blogger had been in touch with the singer who didn’t object at all to featuring the song and was given a few words by Paul Haig to add to the story behind its recording in Edinburgh back in 1982.

Within 48 hours of publication, the piece was removed by the ISP, although no-one associated with the copyright had made such a request.

In response, Paul Haig immediately decided to make his 2007 single ‘Reason’ available through ‘The Vinyl Villain’ blog on the basis that music fans who downloaded the song and decided that they liked it were more than likely to subsequently purchase a copy. So far, after just more than a week, no-one has asked the ISP to remove the mp3….

JC is the blogger who runs ‘The Vinyl Villain’, and he said:-

“I was shocked when the DMCA was served on ‘Blue For You’ and I did think about closing down ‘The Vinyl Villain’ altogether wondering if the hours spent working on it were worth it. But the quick response from Paul and his mangement and the offer of a further song made me realise that there are some musicians out there who value what I and many thousands of others do every day. Blogging isn’t about piracy or making music available for free – it’s more to do with writing about singers and bands we love in the hope that more people will become fans.

I get about 700 hits a day on the blog from all over the world, and quite a number of readers got in touch to say how much they appreciated the support given by Paul to The Vinyl Villain, and the idea of Paul Haig Day emerged from that. So, on 6th April, I’ll be putting up another posting about Paul Haig on the blog, and there’s at least another 25 or so fellow bloggers going to do the same.

The thing I find most pleasing about it is that up until all this dmca nonsense, some of the bloggers knew next to nothing about Paul Haig and don’t have any of his records in their collections, but they’re still going to put some words together and post an mp3 on their blog. It’ll be interesting to see if any of us are served dmca notices.”

Bloggers in Australia, Canada, Germany and America, as well as from across the UK have agreed to take part in Paul Haig Day.

Details can be found at


So let’s give as much support as we can. Because anyone who can hide behind the anonymity of a lawsuit is somebody that is motivated by malice, and the world doesn’t need people like that. As someone who runs a small record company I am flattered when people write about my artists. The DMCA takedown notices are misguided at best, downright sinister at worse. Anyone who seriously believes that mp3 blogs are damaging artists’ livelihoods needs their heads examining. Because they didn’t, they don’t and they won’t. FACT. What is far more damaging is a music industry overrun by lawyers and other shady folks who have no interest in the music or the artist but purely exploiting others to get rich. The internet is socialism in action, and long may it continue.

I think it’s time for a new copyright act to be put in place. Because chasing after bloggers is quite obscene and ridiculous. As mad as if radio pluggers were ordered not to support a band, press officers telling people not to write about them, and people threatened for listening to them.


and support JC, obviously…

Here’s a Josef K classic from 1981:

Josef K -‘Endless Soul.’ mp3

Album Review: Paul Haig

Paul Haig -‘ Go Out Tonight.’ (Rhythm Of Life)

Nearly thirty years since he first rose to prominence in Josef K, Paul Haig releases his tenth solo album. Mining the electonica that has characterised much of his solo career, this album -as it’s title suggests – focuses on what happens when you go out, in a world of violence, CCTV and crowded nightclubs. That isn’t to suggest that the album is full of urban paranoia, like a scottish take on Grime, for example, but rather that lurking belief the deceptively simple electronics lurks and beats a darker, more watchful heart than might be suggested by a casual listen.

If you think that Haig has well and truly long abandoned the choppy guitar riffs that characterised his work with Josef K, the sound now known as post-punk, there are still hints of that here, on opener ‘Troublemaker’ and first single ‘Hippy Dippy Pharmaceutically Trippy’. The electronica may not be startlingly original, but apart from ‘Fantasize’ it doesn’t descend into aural wallpaper.

Thirty years into his musical career, though, Paul Haig ably demonstrates that he still has plenty to say, both musically and lyrically, and that he deserves to be remembered for more than Josef K.


Go Out Tonight will be released on Rhythm of Life on April 14 2008

From Go Out Tonight:

Paul Haig -‘Troublemaker.’ mp3

Paul Haig -‘Hippy Dippy Pharmaceutically Trippy.’ mp3

Paul Haig -‘Gone In A Moment.’ mp3

Some earlier Paul Haig tracks:

Paul Haig -‘Justice.’ mp3

Paul Haig -‘In The World.’ mp3

Paul Haig -‘Heaven Sent.’ mp3

Paul Haig -‘Big Blue World.’ mp3

…and a Josef K classic:

Josef K – ‘Sorry For Laughing.’ mp3