There is absolutely nothing wrong with Brian Eno’s original take on Third Uncle. Bauhaus’s cover is just louder, fiercer, more dangerous, better. In fact, it gets downright harrowing before it’s done – a reminder that so-called Goth didn’t even exist at the time, Bauhaus being one of those rare outfits that forces a re-think, a whole new definition. Yeah, there were already lots of folks dressing in black, mourning for their own deaths, but they were just part of the greater scene, lurking in the shadows of the cooler clubs like something important was being born, but it hadn’t quite arrived yet. Until along came Bauhaus, looking good in black themselves, and way too loud to ignore.
“Bauhaus still had one more album after 1982’s The Sky’s Gone Out but in terms of invention and sheer sonic adventure, it’s pretty safe to say they peaked here. And nowhere are things creepier, more sonically inventive than the final track, Exquisite Corpse. Dub, oblique fragments of poetry, sheets of nightmarish noise. Needless to say, this got a lot of play through any number of psychedelic excursions in the lead up to the mid-80s. An abandoned house comes to mind, right at the seashore, a sort of lost cove off Vancouver’s north shore. The weird part is how everything was still furnished, the library still stocked with books. I grabbed one, heavy, bound in strangely moist leather. I opened it up to some calligraphy, a language I didn’t recognize and yet it spoke to me anyway, and then I realized that the ink was blood red and running in trickles to the hungry floorboards. Actually, I’m pretty sure it was all but a dream.” (Philip Random)
(photo: Fin Costello)
An early single provides strong evidence that Bauhaus were far more than just a goth outfit (the term didn’t even exist until after they’d split up). What they were was smart, innovative, never remotely boring, with Terror Couple Kill Colonel working all manner of studio exploration to get seductively under the skin, into the blood.
It’s 1984 and proto-goth underlords Bauhaus have broken up, but guitar guy Daniel Ash still has some shadows to explore with bassist (and former Bauhaus roadie) Glenn Campling, an outfit they’re calling Tones on Tail. And it all comes good (if weird) with Pop, an album that goes all kinds of cool places. In the case of Real Life, that means acoustic, expansive, dynamic – the right kind of psychedelic.
“Bauhaus were one of those rare bands who were so confident in the songwriting and performing categories that they could casually release something as raw and nasty and good as Lagartija Nick and not even bother to include it on an album. Which isn’t to say it didn’t make it onto my obligatory Bauhaus mixtape, essential soundtrack to many an mid-early 80s trip to the fun part of the dark side (or was it the dark part of the fun side).” (Philip Random)
They sold their share of records, but Love and Rockets never really got the respect they deserved. Serious fans of Bauhaus (the band from which all three had come) stayed huddled together in windowless rooms awaiting the resurrection of their main man, Peter Murphy (which never really happened). Serious art types were too busy getting their ears shredded by the likes of The Jesus + Mary Chain. Meanwhile David Jay, Kevin Haskins and Daniel Ash kept cranking out some of the coolest, best psychedelic sounds since the 1960s.
“But The Cure weren’t even Goth! Or so I heard it argued back in the day. How can you be something that hasn’t even been named yet? What they were, was good, sometimes great, which is true of Caterpillar, a wigged out pop experiment if there ever was one. Nothing does what you expect it to, but it always works, keeps the foot tapping, the head nodding, the earworm slithering.” (Philip Random)
Danielle Dax (pre-teen opera star turned pop experimentalist) was supposed to be the next Kate Bush, but for whatever reason, her textured approach to all things rhythmic, melodic, strange never quite caught on. Dark Adapted Eye, a compilation of some of her earlier releases, is well worth a listen with Brimstone in a Barren Land a standout for its overall feeling of impending doom crossed with cool, possibly hopeful light. 1987 in a nutshell.
“”Back in the day, I generally thought of The Cure as more of a pop band than anything else, and a damned good one. Which perhaps explains why I didn’t listen to Disintegration that much. My loss, because it’s a solid album all the way through. Though to this day, the track I keep coming back to is Lullaby which, it turns out, was their biggest ever hit in the UK. Though not so much here in the Americas, thankfully, because I’m not sick of it. Reminds me of spiders for some reason. In a good way. I mean, they’re our friends, aren’t they?” (Philip Random)