Coming on the second wave in the early 2000s of garage rock and post-punk revival bands along Arctic Monkeys, Bloc Party, The Editors and Franz Ferdinand, The Libertines delivered in 2004 their second, self-titled album which instantly reached #1 in the UK and it sold 72,189 copies in its first week. The album is included in the book “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die” and in 2006, NME placed the album 47 in a list of the greatest British albums ever. For a band released up to date only two albums, not a bad performance at all.
The Libertines were formed in London in 1997 by frontmen Carl BarÃ¢t (vocals/lead guitar) and Pete Doherty (vocals/rhythm guitar) and both of their full-length LPs were produced by Mick Jones, of the legendary British punk band The Clash.
The image of Doherty and BarÃ¢t entwined, BarÃ¢t looking up protectively as his friend leans into his shoulder, on the front of their second album, has been called by Anthony Thornton “one of the most iconic rock images of the last decade” – I think it’s at least pretty gayish, but being gay – or at least pretend to be – seems to be a honorable ticket to success.
Originally named themselves The Strand, later discarded for The Libertines after the Marquis de Sade’s “Lusts of the Libertines”. Many of their early gigs took place in the flat shared by Doherty and BarÃ¢t.
With a firm line-up including Gary Powell on drums and John Hassall on bass, and a singed contract with Rough Trade Records, they began to play more gigs alongside The Strokes and The Vines. This succeeded in spreading their name around the music press, with the NME taking a particular interest in them.
Entitled “Up the Bracket”, it was recorded at the RAK studios in St John’s Wood, with mixing taking place at Whitfield studios and produced by Mick Jones was released on 30 September, 2002 and charted at #29. The band were playing as many gigs as possible including support acts for the Sex Pistols and Morrissey.
During the recording of “Up the Bracket” and in the subsequent touring, Doherty’s drug use had increased considerably and his relationship with the rest of the band deteriorated. The band had become fractious, and some of this tension was visible in their performances. In 2003 Doherty neglected to take the train to Germany for The Libertines’ European tour and the band were forced to play without Doherty being replaced eventually by Anthony Rossomando. While the band was on tour, Doherty burgled BarÃ¢t’s flat and was subsequently arrested, he pleaded guilty at the preliminary hearing to the charge of burglary. He was sentenced to 6 months in prison and he served his sentence in Wandsworth prison, sentence which later was reduced on appeal to two months.
BarÃ¢t was waiting for Doherty at the prison gates when he was released in October 2003. After an emotional reunion they played a gig the same day at the Tap’n’Tin pub, in Chatham, Kent, with both Hassall and Powell. The show became NME’s Gig Of The Year.
In 2004 Mick Jones returned as producer for the second attempt to record the second album. Doherty had returned to his drug habit and so relationships were strained. Security hired for the protection of Doherty and BarÃ¢t had to be used to keep them from fighting. The album was finished and Doherty left the mixing and dubbing to the others. He would never return to the studio with The Libertines.
Their eponymous second album, The Libertines was released on 30th August and topped the albums chart.
And this is an album you really must listen.
01. “Can’t Stand Me Now”
02. “Last Post on the Bugle”
03. “Don’t Be Shy”
04. “The Man Who Would Be King”
05. “Music When the Lights Go Out”
07. “The Ha Ha Wall”
08. “Arbeit Macht Frei”
09. “Campaign of Hate”
10. “What Katie Did”
12. “The Saga”
13. “Road to Ruin”
14. “What Became of the Likely Lads”
Doherty had managed to achieve growing success and fame with his new venture, Babyshambles, while BarÃ¢t chose to then dissolve The Libertines as he was no longer willing to tour and record under the name without Doherty. Doherty and BarÃ¢t remained out of contact for several months after The Libertines had ended.
On 12 April 2007 at the Hackney Empire, London, BarÃ¢t joined Doherty on stage to play through some old Libertines songs together, their first live performance since the pair originally split.
BBC Radio 2 rerecorded the entire Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for the 40th Anniversary of the album in June 2007, and Doherty and BarÃ¢t covered the track “A Day in the Life” for the project. It was the first time they recorded a song together since 2004.
However, an interview with Carl Barat in May 2011 for NME magazine suggested the band did not have any current plans for future activities together.