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Freaks Out! by Luke Haines review – a righteous celebration of gloriously weird rock 'n' rollers

Former Auteurs frontman writes his freak manifesto – a tribute to the weirdos that made rock 'n' roll what it is

 The musician and author Luke Haines, formerly of The Auteurs and Black Box Recorder, is a self-proclaimed freak and proud. This, his fourth book, is his freak manifesto, a righteous celebration of gloriously weird cult rock ’n’ rollers who weren’t born to conform.

Part memoir, part alternative history lesson, Freaks Out! revels in skewering received wisdom and classic rock narrative orthodoxy, the “middlebrow stranglehold of cultural mediocre thinking” that Haines loathes with every fibre of his pasty-faced being.

Like all unabashedly opinionated curmudgeons with a sincere love of art and a healthy sense of acerbic humour, Haines is often right and often wrong, but he’s almost always entertaining. Key quote: “Rock ’n’ roll is a deadly serious business. It’s also very funny.”

The book begins with a roll call of people who won’t understand or enjoy it – Keir Starmer, Noel Gallagher, PE teachers – before careening into a concentrated sprawl of thoughts on the freak flag-hoisting likes of Gene Vincent, poor old Johnnie Ray and the doomed Tyrannosaurus Rex percussionist/uber-freak Steve Peregrin Took.

We’re also treated to typically serious/not serious theses on how Haines’ beloved childhood favourites The Shadows invented psychedelia, how The Beatles unwittingly created the male genius myth and thus ruined rock ’n’ roll forever, how Britpop begat Brexit, and why The Doors are indisputably one of the greatest stupid bands of all time.

Haines clearly doesn’t care if you agree with him or not, as freaks are above such polite considerations. When he casually dismisses the entire output of Prince as worthless, without any attempt to qualify that statement, he’s fully aware that some readers will be annoyed. That’s the joke: an outrageous opinion presented as a fact so empirical it requires no further elucidation.

Haines is a genuinely funny nuisance, and he can write. Imagine Lester Bangs if he was reared in lower middle-class Portsmouth on a diet of Metal Guru and Apache. Get your freak on, people.

Freaks Out! by Luke Haines is out on 28 March (Bonnier Books, £22). You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work buy a copy!

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