Saturday, 20 June 2009

99: The Libertines - Time For Heroes

In the winter of 2001, Carl Barat and Pete Doherty were simply the latest in a long line of musicians trying to get a break. They'd formed The Libertines in the late 90s, but after several years without any recognition, it was the success of The Strokes in the early years of the decade which persuaded Rough Trade to take a chance on them. Debut single 'What A Waster' (produced by Suede's Bernard Butler) was released in the summer of 2002, but received a lukewarm media reception, received little airplay, and only managed to make it to #37 in the charts. The second single, 'Up The Bracket' fared slightly better that autumn, and the album of the same name made a small dent in the charts. But it was the release of 'Time For Heroes' (under the production supervision of The Clash's Mick Jones) in January 2003 which propelled The Libertines firmly into the spotlight.

The song, which continued the run of limited retail success by only charting at #20, quickly became a huge fan favourite and a live staple at the band's often chaotic gigs. The lyrics were written by Doherty, inspired by the May Day riots of 2001 - "there are few more distressing sights than that of an Englishman in a baseball cap" was an early demonstration of Doherty's undoubted lyrical witticism.

The rest of The Libertines' story is well-known; Doherty's descent into drug abuse, Barat firing his bandmate, Doherty's prison spell, the formation of Babyshambles, hooking up with Kate Moss (and the international media spotlight which that brought), rehab, Barat forming the Dirty Pretty Things, perpetual rumours of reconciliation. But The Libertines' arguably peaked right at the beginning of their fame, with this track. The vocal harmony between Barat and Doherty is exceptional, the riff is undeniably catchy and despite the lack of a recognisable chorus, there can be no argument with the statement that 'Time For Heroes' is a modern classic, whether you were/are a fan of the band or not.

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to reading the rest of this.

    If I was being totally honest, this would probably be even higher in my list of songs of the decade.

    Never really listen to the Libs any more but you're right - this is still a classic.