Black Box Recorder / Life is Unfair

Four CDs and a DVD

The Black Box Recorder box set that Luke Haines told SDE about last year is called Life Is Unfair and can now be pre-ordered on Amazon UK for a great price.

Black Box Recorder featured The Auteurs‘ frontman Luke Haines, Sarah Nixey and John Moore, formerly of The Jesus and Mary Chain. Haines and Moore wrote the songs and Nixey sang them. The single The Facts of Life reached number 20 in 2000 and remains the biggest hit of any single that Luke Haines has had a hand in writing.

According to Haines, the set – which appeared briefly on One  Little Indian’s website on Black Friday last year – will contain all three albums (England Made Me (1998), The Facts of Life (2000) and Passionoia (2003), as well as a CD of live recordings, a disc of rarities, and all the videos on DVD (along with some live footage).

In actual fact this doesn’t have a live disc (which I suspect will emerge as part of the vinyl box) so this is definitely a 4CD+DVD box. Amazon do have it listed as six discs but the simple explanation is that it’s incorrect.

Life Is Unfair is listed for release on 8 June 2018.

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Black Box Recorder

Life is Unfair - box set


Track listing as per One Little Indian’s website last year:

England Made Me

1. Girl Singing In The Wreckage
2. England Made Me
3. New Baby Boom
4. It’s Only The End Of The World
5. Ideal Home
6. Child Psychology
7. I. C. One Female
8. Up Town Top Ranking
9. Swinging
10. Kidnapping An Heiress
11. Wonderful Life
12 Hated Sunday

The Facts Of Life

1. The Art Of Driving
2. Weekend
3. The English Motorway System
4. May Queen
5. Sex Life
6. French Rock’n’Roll
7. The Facts Of Life
8. Straight Life
9. Gift Horse
10. The Deverell Twins
11. Goodnight Kiss


1. The School Song
2. GSOH Q.E.D.
3. British Racing Green
4. Being Number One
5. The New Diana
6. These Are The Things
7. Andrew Ridgley
8. When Britain Refused To Sing
9. Girls Guide For The Modern Diva
10. I Ran All The Way Home

Rarities Disc

1. Facts Of Life (single version)
2. Start As You Mean To Go On
3. Soul Boy
4. Facts of Life (Chocolate Layers remix)
5. Uptown Top Ranking
5. Brutality
6. Watch Angels Not The Wire
7. Rock N Roll Suicide (BBC session)
8. Art Of Driving (BBC session)
9. Straight Life (BBC session)
10. Goodnight Kiss (BBC session)
11. Land Of Our Fathers
12. 17 and Deadly
13. Passionoia mega mix
14. Lord Lucan
15. Keep It In The Family (unreleased)
16. Do You Believe in God? (unreleased)


1. Live – filmed at the Train Driver in Eyeliner event at The Forum on 27 October 2008:
Wonderful Life
British Racing Green
England Made Me
Girl Singing In The Wreckage
I.C.One Female
Child Psychology
Lord Lucan Is Missing

2. Child Psychology
3. England Made Me
4. Facts of Life
5. Art Of Driving

49 responses to Black Box Recorder / Life is Unfair

  1. Pingback:Black Box Recorder / ‘Life Is Unfair’ vinyl box finally makes an appearance | superdeluxeedition

  2. Pingback:Black Box Recorder / Life Is Unfair vinyl box finally makes an appearance | superdeluxeedition

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  4. DogFacedBoy says:

    Brief BBR reunion with Sarah & John at Luke’s gig at The Lexington last night – England Made Me & Child Psychology. Sarah looking and sounding ageless and they were having fun (yes, fun!) but as Luke said ‘No, we’re not back, we just all live down the road”

    #DontGetTheBandBackTogether but its a shame as they are wonderful songs

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I should really have gone to this gig… somehow ended up going to Avengers: Infinity War with the family instead :) At least I saw what I think was their last ‘proper’ gig at the Royal Festival Hall in 2009

      • DogFacedBoy says:

        Yeah was at that as well as one of The Luminaire shows (great venue that).

        I was also at the Nick Sanderson gig captured on the DVD and had no idea that they were performing so it’s lovely to have that too.

  5. RJS says:

    Just received a partial refund from OLI of £10.50 which means that my pre-order (including P&P) for this box set comes to £22.11. Sorted.

  6. michal says:

    Fantastic band! In an ideal world they would be on the radio all the time. Really hope the vinyls are on its way !

  7. Auteur55 says:

    I bought this last year when it was advertised all the b-sides would be included. I even compared it to my worst of BBR compilation and saw nothing was missing. If this new track listing is really inexplicably omitting those that is extremely disappointing. This was being sold as a comprehensive box set.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I’m not sure the track listing has ever changed. You might be remembering Haines saying to me that it would contain ‘all the B-sides’ but that was a casual comment in a conversation… so I wouldn’t class it as a broken promise. I do agree it should probably have been totally comprehensive, but there you go…

      • Auteur55 says:

        Thanks Paul. Still going through with the purchase. Love these box sets and want to see more of them (and I’m a huge Haines fan) but I definitely don’t get why they miss tracks they don’t need to. The fans that buy these always kick up a fuss.

  8. RJS says:

    I’ve just received an (unprompted) email from Bertie at OLI, apologising for the delay of this release and saying that they’ll be refunding the difference between what I paid and the retail price (£24.99).

    • Jorje Chica says:

      I got the same email, and was informed I will soon receive a “slight” refund of the difference between what I paid and the “true cost” of the boxset. Still no word on vinyl….

      • Auteur55 says:

        This was really cool of them to do. They didn’t have to.

      • Jorje Chica says:

        I asked Bertie to clarify whether a vinyl release is actually in the offing. He responded that he just works in the warehouse, and basically not to take his word as gospel, but he wrote:

        “Yes there is a plan for it to be on Vinyl but as it stands at the moment the exact details of that have not been approved by the band. [T]his is likely to be decided at The End of The Summer at the earliest as far as i know.”

  9. Gorecki says:

    As my previous comment is still awaiting moderation (probably it was too long!) I’ll try an abbreviated version. :)

    OLI state this set is ‘definitive’ – implying completeness – however the following tracks are missing (there may be others):
    -Seasons In The Sun (good cover),
    -Jackie Sixty,
    -Factory Radio,
    -Lord Lucan Is Missing (they don’t specify whether they’re including the original studio version or the 2003 live version from the School Song single, which was also on OLI),
    -The Art Of Driving (Single Version) – which I only mention because of the inclusion of the Single Version of The Facts Of Life.
    -The Black Arts’ Christmas Number One (collaboration song)

    The only (physically) previously unreleased content is:
    -4 BBC Session tracks
    -2 track digital only single
    -7 live DVD tracks

    Everything else has been released – the 3 studio albums, B-side compilation, and 2 CD singles cover those (and can be bought for less than £20 for the lot). There’s no indication of remastering.

    The continuing confusion about the existence of a live CD is frustrating and, without confirmation of its inclusion, I’m considering cancelling my OLI order in favour of saving money. 6 tracks (and a DVD I’ll only play once) just doesn’t feel like a big enough incentive.

    • RJS says:

      Yes, the confusion about the content is a bit frustrating but I don’t think remastering would make too much difference to 15-20 year old albums.

      • Jorje Chica says:

        The lack of certain tracks is a bit of a disappointment. The lesson here is, don’t get rid of your original CDs. The Worst of… is still a fantastic compilation.

        I am more and more convinced that remastering is often nothing more than not a gimmick to sell reissues. If the album was mastered right the first time, why remaster it? The Auteurs reissues sound perfect to my ears, with no remastering.

        I recently watched a clip of a television interview with Danny Elfman. One of the interviewers asked if he planned on remastering Oingo Boingo’s albums. Elfman said there was noting wrong with the original mastering. Well put. (She should have asked instead whether he has plans on reissuing the albums as deluxe editions with bonus tracks.)

        • RJS says:

          Yes, remastering is a gimmicky selling point. The only really noticeable remaster I’ve listened to is Van Morrison’s Moondance. Quite often they sound worse than the orginal. Like you say, The Auteurs reissues didn’t need remastering and neither do BBR.

  10. Peter Muscutt says:

    Interestingly I had a call from a chap called Bertie at One Little Indian after I emailed to cancel my pre-order and he does say the set EXISTS after it was announced so long ago, and someone at OLI has seen the finished product!

    He’s still not sure if the bonus live disc will be in the CD box set, but apparently various work related projects by Haines, Nixey and John Moore had prevented the set coming out before June. Maybe Luke Haines wanted to release his new solo LP beforehand? (Not sure about Nixey and Moore…as far as I know they don’t do anything musical nowadays?)

    Anyway, he confirmed there had been a mistake with their pre-order price and the price on the website is the correct one now (albeit not as cheap as Amazon’s price, as Paul pointed out).

    Seemed a nice bloke, I was a bit apologetic about cancelling!!

    • Gorecki says:

      Nixey released her second album about 5 or 6 years ago.

      Strangely, last year I stumbled across an listing on eBay where she was auctioning a day with her in the recording studio, with proceeds going to (I think) her children’s school.

    • Jorje Chica says:


      John Moore just released a new album. So yes, all three members are still active in music.

  11. Peter Muscutt says:

    One Little Indian pre-order price now seems to be less than Amazon??

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Although not once you add shipping…and Amazon may well end up matching it. Also I have a pre-order with OLI for £30 (£40 with Black Friday discount) – given this mess, I’ll probably just cancel and order from amazon!

  12. Pete Muscutt says:

    Personally, I’d love it if Haines released the entire ‘Property’ album he wrote as a musical about the controversial tycoon Nicholas Van Hoogstraten. I’m reading a biography about him at the moment and keep imagining what the other tracks Haines wrote might sound like…I think the five or so tracks from that on his ‘Heavy Frenz’ compilation were some of the best he’s written.

    • Jorje Chica says:

      From what Haines wrote about the musical in his second memoir, Post Everything: Outsider Rock And Roll (2011), I doubt he recorded much more than the 5 songs that were included on Heavy Friends.

  13. Pete Muscutt says:

    North Sea Scrolls furthers Haines’ conceptual stuff – an alternate history of the United Kingdom. I think there’s a 2CD version available with ‘Scrolls’ narration in between each track, as it was when the album was performed live. I agree that ‘England Made Me’ is quite sparse in terms of how it sounds, but ‘Facts of Life’ was their “commercial” album. ‘Passionoia’ continued that to some extent, but of course Black Box Recorder were never totally mainstream! I love the tardy contradiction of Luke Haines – he claims he’s a cottage industry releasing music for his own amusement, but wasn’t averse to having pop producer Richard X remix one of his tracks…looking forward to his latest solo effort too, the preview tracks I’ve heard so far are great – ‘Angry Man on a Small Train’ even sounds quite…sweet? Never thought I’d say that about a Luke Haines track!!!

  14. Paolo says:

    The Auteurs reissues from 2014 weren’t remastered either, I guess here is the same.

    • Paolo says:

      Great set though, never bothered with Haines’ non-Auteurs material, basically because it isn’t very easy to track down. This and the previous solo box set are great opportunities then.

  15. Bleddyn Williams says:

    Interesting enough, remastering is not mentioned. Does this mean that these will be identical to the existing CDs?

    Also, will there be any liner notes? I love Luke’s notes.

    Without either of these, its a harder sell to those of us who bought the original CDs…

  16. Jorje Chica says:

    As far as I can tell, the box set has been available for preorder on the OLI page at all times since it was first announced. Since Luke Haines’ interview was posted here and he mentioned the vinyl box set, I’ve been going back regularly to see if there is any mention of it. Still none. I would love to have it on vinyl, but at this point I’m not holding my breath that it will actually be released.

  17. RJS says:

    It cost £32.61 from OLI including the Black Friday discount. I did email them when it was announced and they said they were “expecting it in early February”.

  18. Auteur55 says:

    Pre-ordered this off their website last year for a lot more money. Phenomenal band this is a great purchase to have everything and they are all worth having.

  19. Gary says:

    Damn I’ll have to wait for a while since I have pretty much everything on here, I’d be paying £30 for a DVD.

  20. RDJ says:

    The only Black Box Recorder album I own is the American cd version on Jetset Records of England Made Me, which has 3 bonus tracks. “Lord Lucan Is Missing” is the only one of those 3 listed on the rarities disc. So at least two B-sides are missing from this box set: “Seasons in the Sun” (cover of an early ’70s hit) and “Factory Radio”. Very disappointing that all the studio recordings are not included – diehard fans may still want to seek out a copy of the American compilation “Worst of…” which includes the 3 bonus tracks mentioned above.

  21. Craig E says:

    Been keeping my eye out for vinyl listing of this for ages now, so hopefully soon

    • Ryan says:

      Same! I hope it’s just an oversight re: the vinyl, as I won’t bother with the CD+DVD, but will pay good money to have ‘England Made Me’ on vinyl :)

  22. Robert says:

    Very nice. Their albums were consistent. One of my favorites is the Facts Of Life.
    If someone is not familiar with them then start there.

    • RJS says:

      All three studio albums are very good but yes, The Facts of Life is their best.

      • Paul Sinclair says:

        I disagree… the first album is much better, for me. I much prefer the production and understated-ness.

        • RJS says:

          I don’t think there’s a lot between them to be honest but the cover artwork for their debut is superb and a nod to Haines’ future wrestling concept album. Did you check out his North Sea Scrolls collaborative (although all of the songs were written individually) effort? Possibly my favourite Luke Haines related album.

  23. AdamW says:

    “Keep It In the Family” and “Do You Believe In God?” are not unreleased – they were downloadable in 2010. I have them. (They’re pretty good.)

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