Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Ash’

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The Staatliches Bauhaus commonly known as the Bauhaus, was a German art school operational from 1919 to 1933 that combined crafts and the fine arts, the band Bauhaus released five studio albums, four live albums, three compilation albums, four extended plays (EPs), eleven singles and three video albums.

Bela Lugosi as he is better known, died in 1956, but his reputation and aura not only survive but thrive – ironically because of a song commemorating his demise.the band Bauhaus released five studio albums, four live albums, three compilation albums, four extended plays (EPs), eleven singles and three video albums. The band was formed in Northampton Daniel Ash(guitar), David J Kevin Haskins(drums) and Peter Murphy (vocals).

Namely Bauhaus’ debut single ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’, inspired by the Hungarian actor who defined Count Dracula (at least until Christopher Lee’s era) in the 1931 film adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel. Carved out of the same experimental, questing spirit as the best post-punk of the times, the Northampton quartet’s track was simultaneously maximalist – nine minutes long – and minimalist – sparse, often instrumental, and as much about the spaces as the notes. The epic tune was released by London indie Small Wonder in autumn 1979, and reissued several times since, On various vinyl editions.

Since Bauhaus formed, Leaving/Stones Throw have released a newly remastered 12”, spearheading The Bela Sessions EP with three unreleased tracks from the same exploratory session. By the end of 2018, Beggars Banquet reissued six Bauhaus albums.

Bauhaus almost single-handedly launched the sub-culture of goth – a sound and vision all carved in black. Once upon a time, it was ‘gothic’, a term apparently used by Factory MD Tony Wilson to describe Joy Division, but which could also apply to Siouxsie & the Banshees. But once Joy Division morphed into New Order, likewise the Banshees into psych-pop, and Bauhaus released the likes of ‘Stigmata Martyr’, they shunted themselves to the front of what followed.

Many years on from ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’, did Bauhaus deserve to be saddled with a label that was applied in a fashion, and what did they achieve beyond the ‘founding father of Goth’? Perhaps their records can still say more.

“The bats are in the belfry/The victims have been bled, bled, bled.” If you’re going to talk about Goth, you might as well start towards the beginning. Bauhaus‘ chilling funerary post-punk is still death rock, but dipped in romantic Horror imagery, like ball bearings wrapped in black velvet. Plus, a young Bauhaus perform “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” in The Hunger, the dead sexiest vampire movie ever made, featuring a young David Bowie and Susan Sarandon.”

The Bela Session

The Bela Sessions
(Leaving, 2018)

Bauhaus – singer Peter Murphy, guitarist Daniel Ash and sibling rhythm David J (bass) and Kevin Haskins (drums) – had only been together a month when David J wrote a lyric after watching Lugosi’s Dracula. Matched to what Ash called “a haunting riff” and Haskins’ bossa nova beat, Murphy “recited the lyrics pretty much as you hear them on the record,” David J recalled.

Recorded very soon after the demo, ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ was a true original: intense, cavernous and spacious. (David J was a big fan of dub). In the same session, however, the band had demoed ‘Some Faces’ (power-pop), ‘Biting My Lip’ (new wave), ‘Harry’ (reggae) and ‘Boys’ (a drum-free Bowie rip-off), none of which sounded promising or visionary. “We were trying to find our voice,” said Haskins. Well, at least they found it in ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’.

Crackle - Best of Bauhaus

Crackle
(Beggars, 1998)

Beggars’ ‘ruby’ reissue. This compilation, released to coincide with Bauhaus’ first reunion is the best way to source their early singles, though ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ is here in its ‘Tomb Raider Mix – if anything, a better version. Second single ‘Dark Entries’ was one of four 7” released simultaneously in 1980 to launch the Axis label – quickly renamed 4AD – after the label’s co-founder Peter Kent overheard the demo while it was playing in the Rough Trade shop.

From the start, the band eschewed the label ‘goth’, preferring their own description: “dark glam”. Though the enthralling ‘Dark Entries’ directly correlates to early Joy Division and Banshees, the lyric was inspired by the decadent anti-hero of Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray “a story of great narcissism… A rock star’s story,” shared Murphy. Bela, Dorian… this was not the austere climate that punk, and much of post-punk, drew on – likewise with Murphy’s habit of shining a torch under his chin as he prowled across the stage. Though the stark, strutting rock-disco of their third single ‘Terror Couple Kill Colonel’ resembled PiL more than others, a cover of T. Rex’s ‘Telegram Sam’ clarified the band’s willingness to stand alone.

In The Flat Field

In A Flat Field
(4AD, 1980)

Beggars’ ‘bronze’ reissue. Bauhaus’ early singles were all, in their own way, definitive, but not their album debut. Stentorian intro ‘Double Dare’ is terrific, but this was the licensed John Peel session version because they couldn’t match it by themselves. Murphy lacked Ian Curtis and Siouxsie’s ear for melody; as a result, In A Flat Field is too stark for its own good. But Ash’s scrapes and volleys and the music’s lithe dynamic still resonates (check ‘A God In An Alcove’ or ‘The Spy In The Cab’). But with ‘St Vitus Dance’ and ‘Stigmata Martyr’ and a booming Bowie-esque delivery that could lean toward overkill, Murphy was laying the ground for ‘goth’, especially when he’d shine a light under his chin when prowling across the stage.

The Birthday Party were ‘goth’ too: they created ‘Release The Bats’ in 1981 after touring with Bauhaus, but surely Nick Cave was parodying ‘goth’. At the same time, they were ‘cool’ and Bauhaus were not. In A Flat Field won some unusually vindictive reviews. NME “Nine meaningless moans and flails bereft of even the most cursory contour of interest”). But Ian Curtis was a Bauhaus fan, and In A Flat Field was a commercial success – ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead stayed in the indie charts for two years – so it triumphed over a couple of attitudinal journalists.

Mask

Mask
(Beggars Banquet, 1981)

The ‘yellow’ reissue. ‘Telegram Sam’ wasn’t a national top 75 hit, but it suggested a view to a commercial kill, which didn’t suit 4AD’s left-field direction, but fit much better on 4AD’s parent label – Beggars Banquet, which had the necessary budget after Gary Numan’s phenomenal success. Said Murphy, “We didn’t want to be consigned to an independent music ghetto…we wanted to be massive.”

The band responded with a more nuanced and diverse second album, defined by its two singles, ‘Kick In The Eye’ – their first ‘pop’ record, like something off Bowie’s Scary Monsters, and ‘Passion Of Lovers’. ‘Of Lilies And Remains’ and ‘Dancing’ dallied in dub (David J’s is probably the era’s most underrated bassist), ‘Hollow Hill’ was eerie and slow without toppling into cliché, while the title track’s forwards/backwards blend of sound (including keyboards) was the right side of psychedelic experimentation. In other words, Mask sounded nothing like Joy Division or the Banshees, or goth stalwarts such as Sisters Of Mercy or Specimen.

Press the Eject and Give Me the Tape

Press The Eject And Give Me The Tape
(Beggars Banquet, 1982)>

The ‘white’ reissue. Press The Eject gets its title from a security official demanding a bootlegger hand over his tape; but there was an official recording of several UK shows in 1981–82. A live album also went against the post-punk grain, but it was a gift to fans, and a kind of ‘greatest hits’ of sorts, including ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’, ‘Dark Entries’, ‘Kick In The Eye’, ‘The Spy In The Cab’, ‘Hollow Hill’ and ‘Dancing’ (with Ash on sax as well as guitar), plus their take on John Cale’s spooky dirge ‘Rosegarden Funeral of Sores’ (a studio version was a ‘Telegram Sam’ B-side).

An intense atmosphere on top of song selection make this one of Bauhaus’ strongest records.

The Sky’s Gone Out
(Beggars Banquet, 1982)

The ‘violet’ reissue. The Sky’s Gone Out opened with a cover of arguably Eno’s most rockin’ track – ‘Third Uncle’. Since Bauhaus had already recorded a cover of Bowie’s ‘Ziggy Stardust’ for a Peel session, and then a studio version as a single that finally broke them nationally, there was no sense of shame in tapping the obvious. ‘Swing The Heartache’ aimed at a ‘Nightclubbing’ (Iggy and Bowie’s robo-disco classic) vibe, but with such a naked backdrop, Murphy’s booming vocal is Marmite. Shot in August of 1982 beneath Camden Lock market in a series of complex tunnels, known locally as The Camden Catacombs. A mock gig complete with the entire back line in situ…Bauhaus does Bowie…gloriously. directed by Mick Calvert for Standard Pictures, from the October 1982 double A sided single. The guitar work is interesting in the sense that Ashcombines distorted, discordant  riffs with a clean driving bass from J and simplistic territorial beats from ,Haskins, Murphy’s disjointed surreal poetry finishes it all of nicely with a caustic nonsense that all too often, makes sense! It is “Music Hall” it is Avant Garde, it is even Bebop, but overall it is well put together and produced making it a colourful collection of soundscapes that weaves between the sharped barbs of “Silent hedges” and “In The Night”, to the almost Terpsichorean “Spirit”,hitting the quirkiness of “All I Ever Wanted Was Everything” Sandwiched between the gnarly, caustic and inventive “Three Shadowsand “Exquisite Corpse”.

A new recording of preceding single ‘Spirit’ benefitted from restraint, likewise Bauhaus’ first straightforward ballad, the gorgeous ‘All We Ever Wanted Was Everything’, and the first two parts of the triptych ‘The Three Shadows’. Album finale ‘Exquisite Corpse’ even had a reggae/ska coda. But when Bauhaus – performing ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ – provided the opening nightclub scene of Tony Scott’s vampire saga ‘The Hunger’, the Goth tag was superglued to them

Burning from the Inside

Burning From The Inside
(Beggars Banquet, 1983)

The ‘blue’ reissue. Averaging one album a year, their fourth LP was released just after the band broke up. The Hunger clip resembled a Murphy solo spot, and a gulf had appeared between the singer – who described himself, immodestly, as, “raw, spontaneous, like a fine art installation, more Iggy than Iggy,” and the rest. (As Ash explained: “We all had very dominant personalities.”) Burning from the inside, indeed it’s a shame, because album intro ‘She’s In Parties’ was one of their greatest singles, showing how farMurphy had come in forging memorable melody (so much so that the outrageous Bowie-cockney impersonation is almost forgivable).The final studio album by Bauhaus is a rather fractured piece with lead singer, Peter Murphy, laid low with viral pneumonia for most of its recording. The band played on and recorded a number of songs without him, some of which rate among the finest Bauhaus have ever produced. The best of these is “Slice of Life” written and sung by guitarist Daniel Ash. After a promising start the album flops towards the end. Opening with the magnificent single “She’s in Parties” the band take us through a range of styles, from the haunting acoustic mantra of “King Volcano” to David J’s “Who Killed Mr. Moonlight?” a slow piano piece. My personal favourite is “Honeymoon Croon” a reworking of a song Bauhaus first in wrote 1979. Derided by the music press of the day for their posing and pretensions and for being David Bowie copyists, this album doesn’t escape that criticism, although it is their best work. The chords of “Kingdom Coming” are straight out of “Space Oddity”. The self-explanatory “Antonin Artaud” gives us a lecture about the Theatre and its Double and “Honeymoon Croon” draws on Oscar Wilde’s “The Portrait of Dorian Gray” for reference. The weak ending to this album is saved by the bonus tracks available on the CD. “Lagartija Nick” is a wonderful dose of pure Bauhausian energy. Peter Murphy’s alien-esque voice is at its best on “Departure”, a return to the theme previously explored on “The Man With The X-Ray Eyes”, from the album “Mask”, inspired by the 1963 Roger Corman film, about acquiring a power that proves to be a curse. The excellent “Sanity Assassin” which was to remain a limited edition single for fanclub members until the Bauhaus backlog was reissued. Thankfully this CD gives us a chance to enjoy this ode to paranoia. Overall this is the best produced, sleekest work that the band came up with. The absence of Peter Murphy on some tracks allowed the other members to take the band’s sound into other directions and this listener’s thoughts on the album are one of regret: that Bauhaus did not stay together for a bit longer to follow up this great album.

The band’s arrangement sounded if a piece with the ‘New Pop’ new wave Perhaps the death knell was Murphy’s illness that prevented him from starting the record. David J and Ash sung some lead vocals – both had already recorded solo, with two David J singles and Ash making the Tones On Tail EP with schoolmate/Bauhaus roadie Glenn Campling) – so they would have sensed the freedom of not having a third creative vision. ‘David J’s piano-led ‘Who Killed Mr. Moonlight?’, and Ash’s almost acoustic, psych-tipped ‘Slice Of Life’, for example, would never be mistaken for classic Bauhaus.

Rest in Peace by Bauhaus (2002-07-23)

Rest In Peace: The Final Concert
(NEMO Recording, 1992)

This was the band’s stage swan song – a 5th July 1983 concert at London’s Hammersmith Palais released in 1992, and so RIP it seemed. Murphy soon pursued a solo career while Kevin Haskins joined Ash in Tones On Tail, which morphed into the (very successful, at least in the US) Love & Rockets when David J also joined. A pointed Bauhaus reunion minus Murphy. Maybe it’s the recording, or the fact the band knew they’d exhausted each other, but it often sounds dispirited. And no ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’, though the finale of ‘Dark Entries’ is ragged and thrashy, as if they can’t wait to get out of the building.

Gotham
(Metropolis, 1999)

In 1998, after years of being namedropped by the likes of Nirvana, Jane’s Addiction, Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson – children of goth just as Bauhaus were Bowie’s kids – Bauhaus did reform. But only for the ‘Resurrection Tour’ as they called it, a reference to the vampirical aspect of their reputation. The only new recording wax was the lengthy, woozy ‘The Dog’s A Vapour’, subsequently included on the soundtrack to Heavy Metal 2000 and a studio version of Dead Can Dance’s ‘Severance’ bizarrely tacked onto to the end of Resurrection Tour memento Gotham.

The two silverlings “Gotham” document the celebrated return of the legendary quartet, which disbanded for the first time in 1983, to “Peter Murphy” and “Daniel Ash”, It’s a live album of the highest class recorded during the “Resurrection” tour in the venerable “Hammersmith Ballroom” in New York City in 1998.
Bauhaus first performed in a club here in 1980, many of the listeners at this show were not even born at that time, this shows the importance of this band over the decades. From the grandiose and well-known 12′ Inch “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” which served as a blueprint for the “Darkwave/Gothic Scene” from 1979 up to new “Dead Can Dance” cover “Severance” included in a studio version there is (almost) everything the fan desires or wants to hear. Even the cover versions of “Ziggy Stardust” and “Telegram Sam” with which Bauhaus pay homage to their idols “David Bowie” and “Marc Bolan” (RIP), according to David J.”Haskins (bass) in his biography “Who killed Mr. Moolight”.
His brother “Kevin Haskins” on the drums completed the quartet, which in later years around 2005 released a whole series of live albums about the “Instant Live” series from the “Near the Atmospere” tour. This album is a “highlight” for the collector and fan, but which live recording is your favourite can only be decided by everyone.

The album easily trumps Rest In Peace by surfing on a wave of rabid fan reaction, plus much better technical know-how than early eighties stage sound and reproduction allowed. As the video shows, Murphy wore a cape for ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ and did his best Dracula impersonation, before the band finished with ‘Telegram Sam’, ‘ Ziggy Stardust’ and Iggy/Bowie cover ‘The Passenger’. Goth, and glam legacy, all intact.

Go Away White

Go Away White
(Cooking Vinyl, 2008)

Another reunion followed in 2005, with Murphy lowered upside-down to the stage at the Coachella festival while singing ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’. Amazing what a difference three decades makes. This time, Bauhaus did make a new album, their first in over 20 years, one that mocked the idea of goth by eschewing post-punk-dark trademarks for a streamlined, diverse modernity.

‘International Bullet Proof Talent’ bordered on industrial/ danceable (complete with female backing vox) just as ‘Zikir’ bordered on ambient trip-hop. Even when Murphy tapped his inner Bowie on ‘Saved’ and ‘Mirror’, the arrangements were sparser, and more haunting, than even the old dub forays of the past. Murphy had been living in Istanbul, the others in California, and they now sounded nothing like grey, abrasive Britain circa 1980. Very promising, except apparently Murphy did something so unspeakable (literally, no one will say exactly what) that the band burnt out from the inside once again, before the album was released.  This 2008 album from the Goth quartet, recorded before their final split. Go Away White was recorded in 18 days at Zircon Skye in Ojai, with singer Peter Murphy, bassist Daniel J, guitarist Daniel Ash and drummer Kevin Haskins playing together as a band in one room, taking first takes as final cuts. So, a new record but apparently a final one, the band having decided to release it as a posthumous swan song. Go Away White is everything you would hope Bauhaus would deliver as their final statement. Fronted by a cover photo of Bethesda, the angel of the healing waters in New York’s Central Park, the music inside is pure-cathartic renovation, a psychedelic glimpse into an enchanted moment.

Ten years on, there has been some measure of rapprochement, with David J and Murphy currently on a Ruby Anniversary tour of Bauhaus songs, while in 2017, Ash and Kevin Haskins toured as Poptone, with Haskins’ daughter Diva Dompe on bass, performing Tones on Tail and Love And Rockets tracks alongside ‘Slice Of Life’ (from Burning From The Inside). Ash says “never say never” regarding another Bauhaus reunion, but even if it never happens, Bela Lugosi lives, and so do Bauhaus, survivors of the Goth Wars.

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Bauhaus at the Hollywood Palladium, Nov. 3, 2019. Photo by Matt Cowan

This was never going to happen. Bauhaus was never going to be on stage again, not together, not after 13 years of acrimony, not after repeated doubts from members that they would ever work together again, not after having gone through the reunion dance twice.

But there they were Sunday night less than three months after vocalist Peter Murphy suffered a heart attack before a solo show in New York, enthralling a black-dressed crowd of 5,000 at the Hollywood Palladium, playing with a fire that seemed to burn a lot of pent-up fuel. Those who expected to see an iconic band were not disappointed.

Whether the show resulted from Murphy’s brush with mortality or merely from a desire to light a fire under their catalog (not that their post-Bauhaus projects haven’t), the crowd cared not a for a moment.

And there was a palpable rush when Murphy, Haskins, Daniel Ash and David J took the the stage and blasted forth a crunching, feedback-drenched version of John Cale’s “Rosegarden Funeral of Sores.” Following that with the blistering one-two punch of “Double Dare” and “In a Flat Field,” it was clear that Bauhaus were back with a vengeance.

Like the best bands of their generation, Bauhaus made magic despite their technical shortcomings. Haskins’ static and angular drumming, Ash’s broken-glass version of glam-rock guitar, David J’s use of dub, pulse and throb, and Murphy’s rich, deep baritone made for a unique combination in 1978, the year of the band’s inception. As a musical genre, “goth” had yet to be coined, and the bleakness of Northampton, England, proved a perfect canvas for the young foursome’s monochromatic tunes of doom and gloom. The band lasted a mere five years and four releases before they parted ways in 1983, with all the members enjoying greater degrees of commercial success outside the group. Murphy had a major hit with “Cuts You Up,” and the Love and Rockets trio of Ash, Haskins and David J scored big with “So Alive.”

Despite being credited as the “Godfathers of Goth,” the band rejected that label, and upon further reflection, one can understand their argument. The magic of Bauhaus comes from the perfect merger of completely disparate elements. Shades of Bowie, Brel, baritone and Berliner camp form Murphy’s shadow. Ash brings forth the pre-glam metal slash and burn of Mick Ronson and the style of T. Rex. David J is steeped in the cheeba haze of dub master Lee “Scratch” Perry and traditional soul like James Brown. Haskins took the mechanical beats of Neu and Can and applied the Martin Hannett technique of making them sound organic and human. So the band credited as architects of “Goth” are not actually goth. Go ahead, ask them. Bauhaus is soul music, moving, emotive, soothing, provocative and sententious, which is why 15,000 people will pack a ballroom across three nights (they play the Palladium again tonight and on December. 1st) to see a band that nary had so much as a sniff of a charting single.

But that’s not to say there aren’t any hits. “Bela Lugosi is Dead” is the “Stairway to Heaven” of post-punk. The song that launched a thousand bands in its wake has lost none of its chilly luster. Played midway through Sunday’s 90-minute set, it is still epic, still icy, still grating — the climax for many of the newbies who had not yet gone full undead. To the faithful, the highlights were a trio of songs that haven’t tickled ears since the early ’80s. It was 1982 when anyone last heard “The Three Shadows, Part II” and “The Man With the X-Ray Eyes,” and it was 1983 when Bauhaus last played “Spy in the Cab.” That along with the Iggy Pop cover of “Sister Midnight” made the evening much more than a rehash of “The Best of Bauhaus.” Yes, it was all killer and no filler, as other set highlights included “A Kick in the Eye,” “She’s in Parties” and a furious version of “Stigmata Martyr.”

Murphy certainly doesn’t look the part of a man who just had two stents stuck in him less than three months ago. He was singing with exceptional projection, pulling his mic away a good 18 inches and yet still filling the hall with his bellow. One wishes that he’d even take it down a notch.

There is still no word on whether this reformation will lead to a broader tour — after tonight’s second sold-out night,

Setlist: Rosegarden Funeral of Sores (John Cale cover)
, Double Dare, In The Flat Field, A God in an Alcove, In Fear of Fear, Spy in the Cab, Terror Couple Kill Colonel, Swing the Heartache, She’s In Parties, Bela Lugosi’s Dead, Kick In The Eye, The Man With the X-Ray Eyes, Stigmata Martyr, Silent Hedges, Dark Entries. Encore: The Three Shadows, Part II, Sister Midnight (Iggy Pop cover), Telegram Sam (T. Rex cover)
, Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie cover).