A new album from the Libertines: what could possibly go wrong?

Pete Doherty, Carl Barât and co are thinking about making a new album. What chance of it actually going to plan?

Exciting news for fans of vintage military dress uniform! The Libertines, not content with re-forming for gigs, have announced they plan to play new songs at their shows in September. And that’s not all, drummer Gary Powell told XFM the band had plans to “maybe do a new album”. What’s more, it’s going to be something “a little bit different”, rather than a conventional collection of a dozen tracks in a physical or downloadable format. Forgive us if we don’t hold our breath. Because it’s not as if the Libertines are the most stable and reliable of bands, what with the burglaries, the prison sentences, the drugs. And that’s just one member. Even first time around, their efforts to capture their quicksilver on tape weren’t exactly painless: they were the band for whom the phrase “fraught recording sessions” might have been coined (if you don’t believe me, Google it).

So what might go wrong in the interim? We’ve plugged all the variables into the Guardian Music supercomputer and come up with a list of possibilities for the future of the Libertines, ranked in order of likelihood …

1 Rehab disaster

Pete Doherty’s plan to enter rehab in order to be clean for the album sessions backfires when it transpires the clinic he is to check in to is located in the centre of the Golden Triangle of southeast Asia and is funded entirely by heroin smugglers, and is, in fact, used as a front for the export of heroin. His time in rehab ends up lasting 11 years, and he does not return to London entirely drug-free.

2 No producers left

The recording sessions are, indeed fraught, and the album is unable to be completed because there are, literally, no longer any engineers or producers willing to work on it. Everyone who has ever played guitar in a band famed for their Britishness has a bash at producing it. The lowpoint comes when former Showaddywaddy guitarist Ray Martinez – who steps in when former Dave Clark Five guitarist Rick Huxley walks out in disgust at the Libs’ plans to rerecord Glad All Over as Crack All Over – leaves the project after waiting in the studio for 114 days without a single guitar part having been tracked.

3 Label chaos

The album does get recorded, but is never released, because in their understandable keenness to get the best possible deal, the Libertines manage to sign it to 17 different labels, all of which promptly sue each other. By the time the case is settled, and Universal wins the right to release it worldwide, the Libs have long since posted the entire thing on their website, and there’s no financial incentive for the label to release it.

4 Living room live album

The something “a little bit different” element of the album turns out to be the fact that the band have no intention of ever entering a studio to record it. Instead they announce a plan to write 12 new songs and play them only in a tour of people’s living rooms. Preferably living rooms that are unsoundproofed and as near to residents who really don’t like the Libertines as possible. Fans hosting the gigs will be permitted to record them, but only to wax cylinders, that being the technology the Libertines feel best captures their unique magic. As it happens, the band only manage to write two new songs, and a wax cylinder containing just those two, supplemented by 10 ramshackle readings of old songs, proves not to be the addition to their legacy that the band had hoped.

5 Baseball gaffe

Fans turn on Doherty and Carl Barât after they are pictured discussing the future of the band in a branch of Hooters. It’s not the Hooters bit that causes the upset, so much as that both are wearing baseball caps, thereby betraying the entire concept of Albion.

6 Carry on Libbing

The Libs decide the third album will be a concept piece, based around their guesswork about what might have happened to Barbara Windsor’s character after the events depicted in Carry On Spying. Sadly, the band fall apart after bassist John Hassall refuses to be cast in the role of Hattie Jacques, insisting that he be Joan Sim or they can do without him.

7 The New Libertines

The band break up before entering the studio, and though Doherty announces his intention to continue with a New Libertines, with a sound closely modelled on the New Seekers, enthusiasm is low for a lineup that comprises Doherty plus a bloke he met drinking Special Brew outside Liverpool Lime Street station, the chap who empties bins in Mile End and a fan who once sent a letter scrawled in their own blood, which failed to observe the grammatical rule “i before e, except after c”.

8 Borrell comes back

In a bid to reignite the magic, the Libertines recruit pre-fame member Johnny Borrell to their ranks. He adds his own inimitable touch to interviews, and the band’s media profile is higher than ever, largely because with the added touch of Borrell, encounters with journalists tend to turn into three-way brawls involving the writer, Borrell and Doherty. Unfortunately, they are too busy fighting in interviews to actually record any music. Instead, Borrell convinces the other Libertines to find out about the world by walking down the street playing their guitars.

9 All of the above

Really, could you bet against it?

10 A successful comeback

The four Libertines, armed with a strong set of new material, enter the studio and record their album quickly and efficiently. It is released shortly thereafter, and proves to be a wonderful album that finally captures the insurgent spirit of their youth. They live happily ever after.


Michael Hann

The GuardianTramp

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