Bauhaus and Beyond: An Anthology of Daniel Ash, Peter Murphy, David J & Kevin Haskins
Listen to the Playlist on the streaming service of your choice below as you read along. Spotify and YouTube are missing some songs as they’re not available.
In August, 2017 Julia and I had the thrill of watching David J perform in the backyard of a house in the unlikely locale of Campbellville, Ontario (thanks to Pete and his friend!). It spurred an interest in David J’s career, which I had not followed much outside his work with the legendary bands of his 1980s career. At that show I learned from others of an act touring called Poptone, which would feature members of Love and Rockets and Tones on Tail and be playing those bands’ songs. In October, 2018 I saw Poptone and my appreciation for that music was refreshed. This weekend Poptone returns to Toronto, so let’s dive into the careers of these artists to acknowledge both the songs familiar and newly discovered.
Song \ Album \ Artist \ Year
- Bela Lugosi's Dead \ Non-album single \ Bauhaus \ 1979
- Dark Entries \ Non-Album single \ Bauhaus \ 1980
- Telegram Sam \ Non-album single \ Bauhaus \ 1980
- Kick in the Eye \ Mask \ Bauhaus \ 1981
- Ziggy Stardust \ Non-album single \ Bauhaus \ 1982
- Third Uncle \ The Sky's Gone Out \ Bauhaus \ 1982
- Lagartija Nick \ Non-album single \ Bauhaus \ 1983
- Ok, This Is the Pops \ Burning Skies (EP) \ Tones on Tail \ 1983
- She's In Parties \ Burning from the Inside \ Bauhaus \ 1983
- The Promised Land \ Etiquette of Violence \ David J \ 1983
- Twist \ Pop \ Tones on Tail \ 1984
- Go! \ Non-album single \ Tones on Tail \ 1984
- This Vicious Cabaret \ V for Vendetta \ David J \ 1984
- Southern Mark Smith (Big Return) \ A Scandal in Bohemia \ The Jazz Butcher \ 1984
- I Can't Shake this Shadow of Fear \ Non-album single \ David J \ 1984
- The Judgment Is the Mirror \ The Waking Hour \ Dali's Car \ 1984
- Crocodile Tears and The Velvet Cosh \ Crocodile Tears and The Velvet Cosh \ David J \ 1985
- Ball of Confusion \ Non-album single \ Love and Rockets \ 1985
- Big Saturday \ Sex and Travel \ The Jazz Butcher \ 1985
- Haunted When the Minutes Drag \ Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven \ Love and Rockets \ 1985
- Should the World Fail to Fall Apart \ Should the World Fail to Fall Apart \ Peter Murphy \ 1986
- Yin and Yang (The Flowerpot Man) \ Express \ Love and Rockets \ 1986
- No New Tale to Tell \ Earth, Sun, Moon \ Love and Rockets \ 1987
- Indigo Eyes \ Love Hysteria \ Peter Murphy \ 1988
- The Bubblemen Are Coming! \ Non-album single \ The Bubblemen \ 1988
- No Big Deal \ Love and Rockets \ Love and Rockets \ 1989
- Cut's You Up \ Deep \ Peter Murphy \ 1989
- I'll Be Your Chauffeur \ Songs from Another Season \ David J \ 1990
- Walk this Way \ Coming Down \ Daniel Ash \ 1991
- Here She Comes \ Foolish Thing Desire \ Daniel Ash \ 1992
- The Sweetest Drop \ Holy Smoke \ Peter Murphy \ 1992
- Be the Revolution \ Hot Trip to Heaven \ Love and Rockets \ 1994
- Sails Wave Goodbye \ Cascade \ Peter Murphy \ 1995
- Sweet Lover Hangover \ Sweet F.A. \ Love and Rockets \ 1996
- Porpoise Head \ God's Good Urge \ Porno for Pyros \ 1996
- Holy Fool \ Lift \ Love and Rockets \ 1998
- Spooky \ Daniel Ash \ Daniel Ash \ 2002
- Strays \ Strays \ Jane's Addiction \ 2003
- Blinded Like Saul \ Unshattered \ Peter Murphy \ 2005
- Too Much 21st Century \ Go Away White \ Bauhaus \ 2008
- Hank Williams to the Angel of Death \ Not Long for this World \ David J \ 2011
- Seesaw Sway \ Ninth \ Peter Murphy \ 2011
- The Autumn Carnival \ This Machine \ Dandy Warhols \ 2012
- Excruciating Allure \ An Eclipse of Ships \ David J \ 2014
- Hang Up \ Lion \ Peter Murphy \ 2014
- Love Me \ Stripped \ Daniel Ash \ 2014
- The Day that David Bowie Died \ Non-album single \ David J \ 2016
- Flame On \ Freedom I Love \ Daniel Ash \ 2017
Bela Lugosi’s Dead \ Bauhaus (1979)
The song that started it all and in many respects still defines the career of the four men that created it. This story starts in 1978 in another unlikely locale, Northampton, smack dab in the middle of England. And in many respects, begins and revolves around Daniel Ash, who as a youth is looking to capture the punk sounds exploding across England. He is friends with brothers David and Kevin Haskins, who after moving in and out of different cover bands seem unlikely to stick together after their most recent incarnation, The Craze, disbands. Ash turns to an art school friend, Peter Murphy, whom he thinks fits the look he wants (gaunt?), and convinces him to form a band. Kevin Haskins joins as drummer but Ash doesn’t invite David, whose strong presence in their former bands was a threat to Daniel’s desire to have control of the new act. But after a failed attempt with another bassist, David is asked to join and, although committed to a tour with another band, decides to forego that and makes the fortuitous choice to join his brother and friends. They give themselves the artsy, architecturally inspired name Bauhaus 1919 and make their live debut on New Year’s Eve, 1978. All four men are 21 years-old.
It intrigues me to no end how amazing and different art is created. Often the stories are uninspiring and boring, as inspiration is gained through arduous and repetitive work, while sometimes it might make for a good story due to a bolt of lightning or lucky event. Ash and Murphy are out of art school and the Haskins have been playing for at least a couple years, learning their craft, yet how is it that these young men strike out on their first attempt with such a unique, bold, and creative sound? Inspired after watching vampire movies on TV, David J writes lyrics and shares them with Peter Murphy who puts a vocal melody against it. In rehearsal Ash and the Haskin brothers quickly put the music together and, drawing on the lyrical theme, create at atmospheric, unsettling composition that runs more than nine minutes long, including a long, feedback riddled intro before Murphy’s haunting vocals enter – and “Bela Lugusi’s Dead” is born.
The song sounds rather unlike anything else they would record thereafter, so can be put down to first time luck and maybe the naivete of the neophyte, but to create such an iconic and distinctive track on their first try is simply astonishing. They record a demo just six weeks after forming the band, and it’s enough to get them some label attention. They then record the song live in studio, in a single take, and release it (though only as ‘Bauhaus,’ having dropped the ‘1919’) as a single on Small Wonder Records, a London Indie with a Victorian era picture as it’s logo that would help launch many of the dark, post-punk bands of the era. Whether by design or not, Gothic music (‘Goth,’ for short) had its first prototype. “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” would galvanize the fledgling assortment of bands playing dark, heavy music into a new genre.
Dark Entries \ Bauhaus (1980)
“Bela Lugosi’s Dead” took on a life of its own, especially after famed BBC DJ John Peel gave it exposure and the band recorded a version in his studio. The song would get onto the UK Indie Chart and stay there for two years. This led to their signing with UK Indie label 4AD, a seminal brand that would be synonymous with the best of British alternative and Goth music during the next decade.
Bauhaus followed with two more singles, “Dark Entries,” and “Terror Couple Kill Colonel” in early 1980 before releasing their first full length L.P., In the Flat Field, in October. The dark, moody elements of “Bela” would remain a consistent strain in their music, as Ash’s guitar, J’s bass, and Haskin’s drumming all seemed to plumb the depths of their ranges and live in a murky, thick stew. While “Dark Entries” had a higher guitar sound giving it a punk feel, songs like “Stigmata Martyr” and “Double Dare” challenged the listener, championing mood over melody. It was no surprise that Industrial music and Goth would remain connected as they grew. All of this was delivered by the incredible, resonant voice of Murphy, who could convey anguish, anger, melancholy, and exaltation in response to the soundscapes produced by his band.
Critics would be nonplussed by the album and it wouldn’t chart highly, but In the Flat Field is a critical album in establishing the post-punk, Goth sound that would enjoy a healthy following (though more underground than mainstream) for the next twenty years.
Telegram Sam \ Bauhaus (1980)
The band followed the release of the album with a new, non-album single in December. “Telegram Sam” is a cover of a song by the glam band T. Rex, showing the band’s influence extended beyond the punk scene and explained why their sound was more diverse than those that may have spurred its creation. For sure, Glam was a heavy influence on Bauhaus from their look to their sound, and explains why the band moved so quickly beyond the punk refrains to something more sophisticated and rich.
Cover songs, as they are for so many, were an important factor in the growth and exposure of Bauhaus, perhaps as much for providing songs that were more accessible to listeners than their original material. “Telegram Sam” is a fun, punky, romp unlike most else they were making during the time. It also shows greater dexterity in their playing, especially with J’s bass.
Kick in the Eye \ Mask \ Bauhaus (1981)
With increasing success Bauhaus moved from 4AD to the larger wallets of Beggar’s Banquet Records. “Kick in the Eye” was the advance single off the next album, Mask. Leveraging a disco-vibe from the Haskins brothers, it would get the band onto the UK chart for the first time. Another single, “Passion of Lovers,” would exceed it slightly and together push the album to the top 30. Less moody and more accessible than their debut, Mask indicated the band was working on more traditional song structures within their dark, atmospheric style. Along with “Kick” songs like “Dancing” showed the band approaching poppier styles, though still far from the chart-topping songs.
Ziggy Stardust \ Bauhaus (1982)
The next single, “Spirit,” failed to build on their growing success to the degree they hoped, though still went higher on the charts than the prior singles. As they headed into the studio for their next album they did a BBC recording which included another Glam era cover, this time of the signature David Bowie tune. This is one of the best cover songs ever recorded and, dare I say, it is better than the original. The power in the song takes everything that was great about the Bowie version and turns it up to 11 without becoming caricature or derivative. It is startling to hear how easily the band adjusts to a standard rock composition and delivers it impeccably. The single would unexpectedly deliver their first top 20 hit and gain them an appearance on Top of the Pops – something rather improbable for a band of their genre.
Third Uncle \ Sky’s Gone Out \ Bauhaus (1982)
“Spirit” would be re-recorded for the album, extending it by two minutes, and bolstered by the success of “Ziggy” the new L.P. would be the band’s most successful, cracking the top ten. Their promotion was also aided by their live performance of “Bela” in the opening of the cult classic vampire film, The Hunger, starring Catherine Deneuve, Susan Sarandon and none other than David Bowie.
Ironically, Sky’s Gone Out is the band’s most impenetrable, atmospheric, and experimental album, and on the face of it the least likely to be a commercial success. The first side does build on the band’s sound, leading with yet another Glam era cover, a stunning and powerful treatment of Brian Eno’s “Third Uncle” (again, like “Ziggy”, that outdoes the original) followed by almost normal pop tunes in “Silent Hedges” and “In the Night,” but there’s just too much edge, anguish, and journeys into the strange to keep it in the pop realm. Then there’s “Swing the Heartache,” a funereal march through a bleak soundscape that makes me imagine some post-apocalyptic scene (not uncommon during those days of Cold War tension) followed by the bleaker version of “Spirit.” Side two, with the 3-part “The Three Shadows” followed by the exquisitely beautiful “All We Wanted Was Everything” and then closing with chaotic “Exquisite Corpse” makes me think Bauhaus was trying to do something akin to Diamond Dogs era Bowie (i.e. Glam). No, this was not an album to appeal to any masses, much less even fans of any particular genre. It is a masterpiece that is difficult to get close to, but left many with the feeling that this band was a cut above.
Lagartija Nick \ Bauhaus (1983)
While the band recorded their next album, they released a single in January of 1983, “Lagartija Nick,” which surges with machine-gun drumming, haunting sax, and an infectious hook. The band tantalizes with the possibility of being a pure pop band laced with incredible instrumentation and Murphy’s enigmatic vocals, yet always just stop short – keeping their sound out there, beyond the reach of the comfortable. This is yet another brilliant song that shows Bauhaus was not just about moody, disaffecting songs, but could rock it out with the best of them – only dressed in black and surrounded with a thick fog.
Ok, This is the Pops \ Burning Skies EP \ Tone on Tail (1983)
In 1981 Daniel Ash started a side project with long time friend, flatmate, and Bauhaus roadie Glenn Campling. Recall that originally Ash had hesitated to invite David J into Bauhaus out of concerns with having to compete for control? I suspect that wasn’t playing out as he hoped and was looking for an outlet in which he could write without having to run it through the four-person committee of the band. They name themselves ‘Tones on Tail’ after the way calibration tones were recorded on the tail of reel-to-reel tape and released a single in 1982, “There’s Only One,” as well as a self-titled EP. The sound was different than Bauhaus and flirted with the New Romantic sound such as early Spandau Ballet or Factory Record acts like A Certain Ratio. In the spring of 1983 they released another EP, Burning Skies, which included the title track as a single and this great song, “Ok, This is the Pops.” In this we can hear an evolution of the sound into a purer pop sound though blended heavily with the dark flavours of Bauhaus – but this time with very capable vocals from Daniel Ash. So while Ash likely had greater control, it’s not clear to me what he was achieving through this act that he wasn’t doing, sonic wise, with Bauhaus. At least in this band he got to sing.
She’s In Parties \ Burning from the Inside \ Bauhaus (1983)
Peter Murphy fell ill with pneumonia, leaving Ash to work on his Tones on Tail material but also lead the recording of Bauhaus’ next album in partnership with David J. With much less input from Murphy the sound of the band moved to a slightly lighter, acoustic, and at times jaunty sound (“Honeymoon Croon”). We also hear vocals from Ash (“Slice of Life”) and J (“Who Killed Mr. Moonlight”), and another beautiful acoustic ballad sung by Murphy, “Kingdom’s Coming,” that would foreshadow his solo work. The lead single was one of their most haunting and polished singles, “She’s In Parties.” It’s the culmination of the darkness, experimentation, moodiness, and instrumental dexterity the band had developed over the first three albums. The listener can grab this melody more than most anything they’d done aside from their cover songs.
As it often happens with bands led by such a photogenic and affecting lead singer, helped by the camera’s attention on Murphy in the band’s appearance in The Hunger and then his acting and modelling in the Maxell ‘Break the Sound Barrier’ ads, resentment brewed. As the recording of Burning from the Inside progressed, driven by Ash and J, the band seemed to be at a threshold. Could they hold together such a collection of forceful and talented people or did it need to give way and allow those forces to find an outlet?
Just prior to a pair of shows at the Hammersmith Odeon in July 1983, the band decided it was best to break up. The shows would be their last, though they didn’t make that public until after. The album was released a week later. After five years together, forging a new sound in the post-punk universe and leading the creation of the Goth genre, one of the most distinctive and influential bands during one of the most creative and explosive periods of music would stop, perhaps cementing their legacy by ceasing before any corrosive elements could taint their resume.
The Promised Land \ Etiquette of Violence \ David J (1983)
Lending credence to the idea that Bauhaus had too much talent, too much creativity, and too many competing personalities to be contained, the four men branched out into a frenzy of activity over the ensuing years. This is where our playlist gets interesting as we follow both the diverging and criss-crossing paths of the four.
David J was first out of the gate, releasing a solo album before the year was out. Although he had made a single, “Nothing/Armour” in 1981 with German artist René Halkett this was his first full effort outside of Bauhaus. The album has many similarities to Bauhaus in its unwillingness to follow a single structure, moving between melody, rhythm, acoustic, and electronic arrangements. “Joe Orton’s Wedding” would be the lead single followed by “The Promised Land.” The sound is comparable to Billy Bragg, who was starting his career that same year. A capable singer and guitarist, J put out a confident album that showed he could establish his own sound.
Twist \ Pop \ Tones on Tail (1984)
Daniel Ash continued with Campling and Tones on Tail, but this time joined by Kevin Haskins to make a trio. In April 1984 they released an album, Pop (the Canadian version I have is titled This is Pop and has a significantly different track listing than the original, UK version). Three singles would be released from it, “Performance,” “Christian Says,” and “Lions,” all of which are creative and catchy songs in an electro-punk vibe. It immediately revealed Ash, the instigator of Bauhaus, was clearly the creative force behind their songs. This was Bauhaus with a purer pop feel without giving up the mood and dark shadows. Ash’s creative guitar work and smooth vocals, buried in the mix, gave the songs a more complete sound. While the songs varied – “Twist” compares to the many intriguing instrumentals around at the time (i.e. Colourbox, Art of Noise), yet settles into a haunting retro-pop song – the album still hangs together as a cohesively themed piece of art. The album is an overlooked contribution to the rich music scene of that year, and I’m so glad Ash and Haskins are touring it and shining a light on these great songs once again.
Go! \ Tones on Tail (1984)
This was the B-side to the single, “Lions,” but would catch fire in the clubs, eventually getting released as a ‘club mix’ single. Ironically it would become a signature song of the mid-80s, alternative dance sound and re-appear in movies and shows over the next twenty years (Moby would sample it for his breakout single in 1990, also titled “Go!”). It was, and is, one of my favourite songs of the era and is one of the most infectious tunes you’ll ever hear. It’s something Ash could never have recorded with Murphy on vocals.
This Vicious Cabaret \ V for Vendetta \ David J (1984)
A sudden shift here as we sample an EP by David J that was intended as a soundtrack to Alan Moore’s graphic novel, V for Vendetta (which would be made into a movie in 2005). J was working with Moore already in a short-lived band called The Sinister Ducks, who released a single “March of the Sinister Ducks” in 1983. It’s just another example of the variety of talent and expression coming out of Bauhaus.
Southern Mark Smith (Big Return) \ A Scandal in Bohemia \ The Jazz Butcher (1984)
David J was a busy man in his post-Bauhaus years. He joined with the Jazz Butcher, co-writing songs and playing bass on the album A Scandal in Bohemia, which was the band’s second album. Kevin Haskins also plays on this album, which could not be any more different than Bauhaus with its jangly guitar, pop sound, and humour – “Southern Mark Smith” is a reference to The Fall’s Mark E. Smith, who of course was from the north (Manchester). It is interesting to note, however, that this music closely aligns with J’s solo work, suggesting his work with Pat Fish and this band influenced his own creative development.
I Can’t Shake this Shadow of Fear \ David J (1984)
David just keeps rolling along, releasing this single also that same year. Did this guy leave the studio after Bauhaus? It’s a great song showing he could draw on the Bauhaus sound while making it his own. As much as I think Ash was the creative force behind Bauhaus, this shows he likely got strong contributions from J. It’s amazing how dense this period was for music that a song like this could get squeezed out, garnering little attention despite J’s pedigree.
The Judgment is the Mirror \ The Waking Hour \ Dali’s Car (1984)
Wondering what became of Peter Murphy? Well, it’s only been a year at this point since the demise of Bauhaus, but wonder no more. He was hanging out with Mick Karn, the bassist from outstanding post-punk outfit, Japan (who had also just disbanded). Well, not really hanging out since apparently they didn’t spend a lot of time together. They formed this band, Dali’s Car (named after a Captain Beefheart song), and released an album in late 1984 after sending tapes back and forth and working on the album individually (along with Paul Vincent Lawford, credited with “rhythm construction”). The album is very reminiscent of Japan’s Tin Drum album and is dominated by Karn’s style, who would go on to release several similarly atmospheric albums that decade. It appears that Karn made the music and Murphy likely wrote the lyrics and sang, so it’s almost like a Japan album with Murphy standing in for David Sylvian. The single, “The Judgment is the Mirror” made it onto the UK charts, as did the album.
Crocodile Tears and the Velvet Cosh \ Crocodile Tears and the Velvet Cosh \ David J (1985)
By spring of ’85 J had enough time to put another solo album, featuring this lush, acoustic title track. You can sense David J’s style of alt-folk that would feature prominently in his solo music. The solid composition and familiar song structure distances him again from his dark, Goth predecessor act. It should also be noted he’s quite a capable singer, a factor we’ll see come to play in his next band…
Ball of Confusion \ Love and Rockets (1985)
…which was Love and Rockets. Make of this what you will but in 1985 all of Bauhaus except Peter Murphy got together and formed a new band. Ash and Kevin Haskins discarded Tones on Tail with the arrival of brother David, releasing this first single under their new name. The song is a cover of a Motown classic by The Temptations, though this post-punk, Bauhaus influenced take is broader, tougher (thanks to Ash’s fuzzy guitar work), and groovier than the original (thanks to J’s thick bassline and Haskins’ rat-a-tat-tat drumming). I seem to remember this song being a radio staple and fairly popular, so am surprised to see it didn’t chart and brought little success to the band. Still, it was a heck of an arrival for a new act, although comprised of a well-established trio that had more or less worked together for seven years running.
And why form a new band without Murphy? In the beginning I thought Ash’s concern was with David J? Yes, but once Bauhaus got rolling it was clear the spotlight was going to shine on the lead singer and his angular, photogenic features. I suspect Ash wanted control not just of the music and lyrics, but the spotlight. Clearly there was bad blood between the trio and their singer, which exposes the rift that led to the breakup in the first place.
Big Saturday \ Sex and Travel \ The Jazz Butcher (1985)
Holy Hannah! J is everywhere in these years, once again helping Pat Fish and The Jazz Butcher with the next album. No help from Kevin this time around. The Butcher achieves its first success as the album appears on the UK Indie chart.
Haunted When the Minutes Drag \ Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven \ Love and Rockets (1985)
By the end of the year Love and Rockets release their first full-length L.P. and it’s a doozy. Full of melody, rich guitar both acoustic and electronic (often layered together), deep basslines, strong percussion and Ash’s breathy vocals, it’s a fantastic album. There’s still some darkness and moodiness a la Bauhaus, but not nearly as much of either, often lightened by the infectious melodies and lighter guitar. Ash seems to have evolved his project of dark, pop-punk music into something more polished, complete and listenable. The listener is invited in and an embracing arm is wrapped around them rather than being cast about.
The album opens with the single, “If There’s A Heaven Above,” a song that brings Ash’s vision together with a Bauhaus base tempered with lighter guitar, accessible melody, and vocal harmonies. Next you get a David J-styled “A Private Future” before settling into the first of the album’s four (there’s only seven on the L.P.) epic tracks. “The Dog-end of A Day Gone By” is a pre-shoegazer fuzz bomb with layered guitar, pounding drums, synth accents, and Ash’s mellifluous vocals, all delivering a beautiful melody especially when dropping into the chorus. Indeed, you can draw a line between this album and some of the shoegazer acts that arrive just a few years later, not to mention the wave after with bands like The Verve. The first side ends with another Bauhaus-tinged, psychedelic tune, “The Game.”
Side two is three songs stretched over twenty blissful minutes. “Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven” is a bit plodding, but captures the dark mood that Ash has perfected over his seven-year career. Next is “Haunted When the Minutes Drag” – perfection. Tight, taut, tension-filled guitar gives way to acoustic melodies and echoey vocals – haunting indeed. The song is a perfect example of the virtuous culmination of new wave, industrial, punk, and pop that arrived by 1985, before big guitars came in and swept it all away. “Saudade” finishes the album, a shimmering, acoustic, instrumental gem that lets you satisfactorily sigh your way to its blissful end, like the end of a good movie when all your tastes are satisfied.
Should the World Fail to Fall Apart \ Should the World Fail to Fall Apart \ Peter Murphy (1986)
I’m not sure what Peter Murphy thought of his bandmates evolving and perfecting the project they’d started together with Bauhaus; most likely he didn’t care. He was getting on with his own solo career and released his first album in 1986. Likewise, I hope he didn’t care that it was largely ignored while L&R was taking fire.
The album includes a couple covers, such as Magazine’s “The Light Pours Out of Me” and Pere Ubu’s “Final Solution.” The album is ok, with Murphy clearly searching out his own sound, falling into the electro-pop sound of the time. His voice is so fantastic that he’s one of those rare talents that can make average songs sound intriguing. The title track was a single and is indicative of the album’s sound.
Yin and Yang and the Flowerpot Man \ Express \ Love and Rockets (1986)
L&R’s second album pleased a greater number of people as it moved to a stronger pop sound and largely abandoned the Bauhaus influences. It pleased me less as the rich sounds and complex instrumentation were abandoned for more pedestrian arrangements. There are less hooks and engaging moments throughout the album. “Love Me” is a bright spot, capturing the sound of the previous album in another infectious groove, the acoustic version of “All in My Mind” is another lovely example of the band’s outstanding acoustic sound, as was “An American Dream,” though strengthened with a build-up finish.
The standout track on the album is undoubtedly “Yin and Yang and the Flowerpot Man.” Yes, it’s sound fits well with the previous album, but the lush, guitar-driven melodies are stepped up in pace and the song makes you get out of your chair, whereas the prior album was more likely to sink you deeper into it. It’s not a retro-Bauhaus song, this is Love and Rockets coming into its own with its own brand of sound that stamps its presence on the decade just as guitar-rock is coming back into vogue.
No New Tale to Tell \ Earth Sun Moon \ Love and Rockets (1987)
The pace of output from our foursome is easing off now that the three are settled into a single band and Murphy seems less inclined to push out songs at the rate of his peers. Perhaps with a little breathing room it’s no surprise we see the triumph of the post-Bauhaus legacy, L&R’s third full album, Earth Sun Moon. It pulls together their sound in exquisite beauty, pushing up the folkier David J elements, drawing on Ash’s psychedelic guitar, driven by Haskins’ always pounding, insistent percussion, and vocally delivered more confidently by both Ash and J.
The album moves between fast-paced and slow, atmospheric songs, evidenced out of the gate by the opening duo, “Mirror People” and “The Light.” Acoustic treats abound, such as “Welcome Tomorrow,” “Waiting for the Flood” (with a nice, Thin White Duke Bowie sax accompaniment), “Rain Bird,” and “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven.” Psychedelic rockers give the album energy: “Lazy,” “Here on Earth,” and “The Telephone is Empty.” Finally, you have the pièce de résistance, “No New Tale to Tell,” David J’s most assertive and notable contribution to the entire Bauhaus/L&R oeuvre. It’s tough sounding despite being delivered with an acoustic guitar, it features an exhilarating flute sequence (really!), and alternates between a simple folk melody and an exultant, shout-along chorus, joined by a brilliant psychedelic guitar riff. Thirty years on, this song still impresses.
In the fall of 1988 I went away to school in rural New Jersey and the most immediate effect was a sudden isolation from new and progressive music. No one listened to the music I did and the local radio stations were focused on rock, popular music and the emerging dance and hip-hop scenes. My days were filled with Guns n’ Roses, Tone Loc, Kylie Minogue, Rob Base, and Salt-n-Pepa. Two albums sheltered me from all that, and the first was Earth Sun Moon which I taped off a friend (despite having been out a year by then, I hadn’t gotten around yet to picking it up). The other would arrive a year later – more on that in a bit. Perhaps this is why my love for this album is outsized compared to the others on this list, it was a light in a dark period for me. Still, there isn’t a bad song on the album and it’s gorgeous to listen to, and I don’t think that can be said about any other album on this list.
Indigo Eyes \ Love Hysteria \ Peter Murphy (1988)
Peter Murphy improved in leaps and bounds on this second effort. Helped by Paul Statham from new wave band, B-Movie, the songs are more polished and flow better. Risking over-production from Simon Rogers (from Manchester band, The Fall), there is nonetheless a distinctive sound being achieved built around Murphy’s fantastic voice. It is unabashed electro-pop music with nice, acoustic guitar support. There is no sign this man was once a part of the most celebrated Goth band of the waning decade. “Indigo Eyes” is a standout track but wasn’t enough to gain Murphy any chart attention. It was a sign, however, of what was coming.
The Bubblemen Are Coming! \ The Bubblemen (1988) - not available on Spotify
What to make of this song? Why does it exist? In 1988 the Love and Rockets trio created this alter-ego and recorded this single, which would be played wearing bee costumes. It has all the markings of a Love and Rockets song, though lacks some of the grace and ingenuity of their albums. It’s not terrible, but neither is it really crying out for repeated listens. Chalk this up as an odd diversion for the boys.
No Big Deal \ Love and Rockets \ Love and Rockets (1989)
L&R would surprise again the next year, resuming under their name, but this time with a different sound. Perhaps influenced by the resurgence in guitar-driven rock and the onset of grunge in America, the acoustic guitars were set aside instead for all-out rockers like “**** (Jungle Law)” and “Motorcycle.” In the loose and raw guitar sounds the band’s penchant for melody gets lost, replaced in blues-rockers like “Bound for Hell.” There are a couple of atmospheric and acoustic numbers – the David J delivered “Rock and Roll Babylon” isn’t bad.
So, given the above description, especially following my effusive praise of their former album, you’d think this album was a stiff, right? Nope, it’s the most successful album on this entire list, reaching #14 on the US chart. This achievement was the result of the surprise success of the single, “So Alive,” the only song by a Bauhaus member to reach the top ten on the charts, peaking at #3. Does it matter that it’s a fairly boring, electro-pop song that bleeds most of what made L&R a fantastic band? No, indeed that’s clearly what helped them cross over to mainstream attention and alienate fans such as myself – and forget anyone holding on to hope of a Bauhaus resurgence at this point. This was bubble gum (Bubblemen?) Goth, right down to the video. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad song, but given all the brilliance on this playlist it’s a shame this song would garner the most attention. So instead I’ve chosen the best song on the album, which I was thrilled to hear Poptone give a good airing in their concert, “No Big Deal.” It’s not too dissimilar to “So Alive” but delivered with the classic L&R panache – fuzzy goodness and all.
Cuts You Up \ Deep \ Peter Murphy (1989)
Murphy’s third album was the other saving grace of my two years in New Jersey. My cassette tape copy of this album was well-worn through my car stereo and the boom box in my boarding house room in what was a pretty bleak year for me. This is an impeccable album in which Peter finds his groove, shaking off the shallowness of sound of his first albums and scoring with a richer, beautiful, and consistent album.
“Deep Ocean Vast Sea” is an electro-pop song that has a tougher edge both in the music and his voice, providing depth that hadn’t been achieved before. “Crystal Wrists” is a fantastic new wave pop song, full of energy and fluid melody. “The Line Between the Devil’s Teeth (and that Which Cannot be Repeated)” and “Roll Call” call on drums and rhythms that create a healthy juxtaposition to the songs around it, making the album a satisfyingly varied listen, not to mention more energetic. Then there are the lovely ballads, “Marlene Dietrich’s Favourite Poem” and “A Strange Kind of Love,” which are possibly the two loveliest songs issued by the Bauhaus diaspora. Finally, there was the single, “Cuts You Up,” simply a perfect pop song that grows in strength and arrives to a fantastic, wall-of-sound finish that a New Order fan such as myself can deeply appreciate; and there’s a cello, which I usually find irresistible.
In retrospect this album probably hasn’t aged well since it’s built with a sound of its time, and again my closeness to it in my life gives it a special resonance that may not translate for other listeners. But even listening to it again for this playlist gives me goose bumps. I still love this album. And hey, it’s nice to see Murphy chalk one up just as the rest of the boys had a first stumble. The album reached #44 in the US chart and “Cuts You Up” got to #55, better results than all of the L&R albums except their latest.
I’ll Be Your Chauffeur \ Songs from Another Season \ David J (1990)
As we leave the decade in which Bauhaus and its members had indelibly left their mark, it may not be surprising that from here on out the impact is considerably less – and that’s taking into account that none of their output to date had been chart toppers except for the most recent from Love and Rockets. The first indication that things were going to be different in the years to come was the decision by L&R to take a break. Having taken advantage of the exposure gained by “So Alive,” the band had toured extensively over the prior year. After releasing four albums in five years, the band would wait five years to release their next.
So of course, David J picked up his solo career where it had left off, releasing his third solo album and enjoying a hit single in “I’ll Be Your Chauffeur,” which went to #1 on the US Modern Rock chart, for whatever that’s worth. The rest of the album is consistent with his folk style and includes some country, making for a nice, laid back listen.
Walk this Way \ Coming Down \ Daniel Ash (1991)
It’s a bit surprising that for as prolific and distinctive a song writer and performer as Daniel Ash was, it would be 1991 before he’d release his first solo album, twelve years and three bands after his start. The album is also surprising in how electronic it is, drawing on dance, funk, rock, and his familiar fuzzy guitar to compile the songs. It sounds very much like other albums of the period, such as Jesus Jones’ Doubt and The Supreme Love Gods. However this song, “Walk this Way,” was built on Santana’s latin-tinged riff from “Oye Como Va.” The album seemed to be an opportunity for Ash to explore songs outside the constraints of the Bauhaus/Tones on Tail/L&R musical legacies. The album does have many familiar Ash hooks within the melodies and the single from the album, “This Love,” achieved some alternative chart success.
Here She Comes \ Foolish Thing Desire \ Daniel Ash (1992)
Ash beat his peers to the next release with his second solo album. Interestingly, it sounds like a blend of a Peter Murphy and an L&R record. It’s got the electro-pop of Murphy but with Ash’s melodies and vocals. A lot of good hooks on this album, it again fits with the sounds of the times though doesn’t fit with the major alt-trends of the time such as grunge, Madchester, or techno.
The Sweetest Drop \ Holy Smoke \ Peter Murphy (1992)
It’s not as good as Deep, but the ex-Bauhaus singer followed with another solid album, consistent in his developed sound but less grandiose and emotive as the prior album. “The Sweetest Drop” was his most pop sounding song so far, catching a great groove.
David J also released an album in 1992, Urban Urbane, but I can’t locate any music from it on streaming services.
Be the Revolution \ Hot Trip to Heaven \ Love and Rockets (1994)
After a five-year hiatus Ash, Haskins and J returned with the fifth L&R album. A Belgian singer of Egyptian background, Natacha Atlas, provides backing vocals on the album, as she did on Ash’s solo album, Come Down, giving the album a slightly exotic feel. Also gone were Ash’s layered guitars and instead more electronics and dance beats, quite similar to his recent solo work. Inspired by current bands such as Spiritualized and The Orb, Haskins was employing greater use of drum machines and exploring ambient, dance music. And while in many places it’s distinctly L&R in sound – such as on “Be the Revolution” – and was still an interesting album, it lacked a single to grab attention. By then I suspect fans had moved on, caught up in the many exploding music scenes of the early 90s. It was starting to look like the Bauhaus crew were in the rear-view mirror of popular consciousness, even amongst their fans. Issuing an experimental, electronic album probably didn’t help, and neither did issuing it during an explosion of new bands in that same genre.
Sails Wave Goodbye \ Cascade \ Peter Murphy (1995)
Murphy’s fifth solo album is good but starting to sound a little too much like the rest of his stuff. There are a few lovely songs on this, such as “Sails Wave Goodbye,” “Mercy Rain,” and “Huuvola,” but it all sounds too much like he’s trying to replicate the sound from Deep. He is now living in Istanbul, Turkey and being influenced by his interest in Sufism, a mystical form of Islam.
Sweet Lover Hangover \ Sweet F.A. \ Love and Rockets (1996)
The late 90s were a bleak period for modern music and the Bauhaus boys did little to help the situation. Their music is always solid and this L&R album provides a few good listens. Easing off the electronics there’s a greater use of acoustic again and the result is them sounding like Primal Scream. To a degree it’s a welcome mix of their old and new sound and very current to the period, as captured in the groovy tune, “Sweet Lover Hangover.”
Porpoise Head \ God's Good Urge \ Porno for Pyros (1996)
As always, David J kept busy. In 1996 he released two albums with graphic novel writer Alan Moore, who you may recall he’d worked with in the 80’s. He also returned to guesting and collaborating with others, as he’d done with The Jazz Butcher. The first example of this was playing bass on this song by Porno for Pyros – Perry Farrell’s project after Jane’s Addiction – after the band had their bassist quit while recording their second album.
Holy Fool \ Lift \ Love and Rockets (1998)
As the millennium was closing out the trio took one last kick at the L&R sound. This time it was a return to the electronics, now in full force with bands like Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, and Fatboy Slim enjoying success. Kudos to them for trying, and the results aren’t too bad, but as is often the risk with electronica, the songs lack personality and certainly none of the L&R character that had been established in the early albums. Note the backing vocals on this song from Luscious Jackson’s Jill Cunniff, who were exactly the kind of band L&R could now be grouped with in terms of style. This would be the last album released by Love and Rockets.
1998 also saw the surprising reunion of Bauhaus, as Murphy came back into the fold and they went out on the ‘Resurrection Tour.’ They also recorded a new song, “The Dog’s a Vapour,” which was used in the Heavy Metal 2000 movie. It was a long, plodding, atmospheric song that hinted at their Goth origins. They also released a live album from the tour, Gotham, which included a studio cover of the Dead Can Dance song, “Severance.”
Kevin Haskins, by this time, has played in three bands with Daniel Ash and contributed great percussion to the prolific output of Bauhaus, Tones on Tail, and Love and Rockets. With the demise of L&R he finally turns to some solo pursuits, but unlike his bandmates he does not record albums but instead starts composing scores for video games, films and tv shows. He, along with partner Doug DeAngelis, runs the company Messy Music.
Spooky \ Daniel Ash \ Daniel Ash (2002)
Ash remained enamoured with electronics and dance music. For someone who had mostly been tied to a band, it must have been liberating to be able to create so much music on his own using the increasingly sophisticated and available machinery. I notice many artists of the 80s turned to DJ’ing in the 90s and 2000s – e.g. Peter Hook from New Order and Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim) from The Housemartins. Daniel would release several singles and EPs in the new millennium, including this funky cover of the Classics IV song from 1967.
Peter Murphy also released an album in 2002, Dust, which is an atmospheric piece produced by Turkish musician, Mercan Dede. The music is a sharp departure from his other work and draws heavily on Turkish musical styles. While his other albums had included some middle eastern influences this was his first album dedicated to that sound.
Strays \ Strays \ Jane's Addiction (2003)
David J released three EPs over 2002 and 2003 while also working with Perry Farrell once again, this time co-writing the title track for Jane’s Addiction reunion album, Strays. That same year he also released an album, Estranged, and a singles compilation, Embrace Your Disfunction. That would be followed by another solo album in 2005, Evocations (Three).
Blinded Like Saul \ Unshattered \ Peter Murphy (2005)
Murphy’s next album was another musical turn, not returning to the middle eastern sounds of Dust but neither returning to the electro-pop styles of his earlier albums. Assisted by members of Porno for Pyros and Jane’s Addiction, it is a very average album that mixes, folk, rock, and a bit of industrial Goth. There are some decent songs but nothing that demands your attention. There was, of note, one song featuring Kevin Haskins on drums, “Blinded Like Saul.”
Too Much 21st Century \ Go Away White \ Bauhaus (2008)
After the 1998 reunion the original Bauhaus line-up got together again in 2005, reuniting for the Coachella Festival (in which Murphy descended upside down onto the stage while singing “Bela”) in the spring and then going on a tour in the fall and winter. In the summer of 2006 they opened for Nine Inch Nails in a ‘Monsters of Goth’ tour. I had no idea this happened and am pretty disappointed I missed the chance to see such a great double bill – and at the Molson Amphitheatre no less, just minutes from my house! It’s a sign of just how ‘off the radar’ Bauhaus and Love and Rockets was for me at this time. The fact that Bauhaus was an opening act on anyone’s tour was also a bit surprising, though there’s no way they could have filled the venues that NIN was playing.
In 2007 the band went into the studio and recorded their fifth album and first in 25 years, Go Away White. It was recorded quickly and by all accounts that was a good thing, since there was a fight between Murphy and the rest that almost ended the recording. When the album was released in 2008 it also came with the announcement this would be the very last we’d be hearing from Bauhaus (repeating what had occurred with the release of their previous album in 1983).
The result was good and thankfully not done in a retro spirit or with any attempt to recapture their sound from the early 80s. It was also likely fortunate that Murphy and Love and Rockets were writing such similar music, since this album seems to go hand in hand with their other material of this period. It is, however, nice to hear Ash’s melodies and playing alongside with Murphy’s voice again. The album has their 1998 song, “The Dog’s a Vapour,” and of course there are some Goth moments and moody, dark, atmospheric tunes, but they don’t dominate the album. A song like “Endless Summer of the Damned” seems catered to a Goth audience, and I’m sure they wouldn’t mind it, but on that one it sounds like something perhaps better suited for a Marilyn Manson album. The album is kept current and lively though with groove-rockers like “Too Much 21st Century” and “Adrenalin.”
Hank Williams to the Angel of Death \ Not Long for this World \ David J (2011)
J’s consistent output carries us into the current decade, with the release in 2011 of his seventh solo album, Not Long for this World (hmm, what does he know?). It includes songs like “Spalding Gray Can’t Swim” (a comment on Spalding’s work, Swimming to Cambodia?) and this single, a long spoken-word dirge that reminds us this man was indeed a member of Bauhaus. Perhaps he’d been influenced by his time back in the band?
Seesaw Sway \ Ninth \ Peter Murphy (2011)
Murphy, not quite sharing J’s penchant for titles, names his ninth album Ninth. (By my count this is only his eighth album, so I’m thinking he was counting either his 1997 EP, Recall or 2001’s live album, aLive Just for Love.) If J had the Bauhaus flame rekindled, then Murphy was set ablaze with it. Ninth is a much stronger effort than his past several albums and he is, by his own admission, embracing his Goth legacy. Edgy, electric guitar is back, dark melodies, and a forcefulness to his voice that’s been absent in his solo work. He starts performing Bauhaus songs in his live shows and seems to have taken ownership of the Bauhaus nostalgia mantle. This is an album I’m going to give some attention in my listening over the next while.
The Autumn Carnival \ This Machine \ Dandy Warhols (2012)
By 2012, according to the (incomplete) list on Wikipedia, David J had played on or co-written 22 songs with other artists and done the scores for four plays and movies since the turn of the century. And oh yeah, he wrote three of those plays and movies and directed two:
- Anarchy in the Gold Street Wimpy – writer (2004)
- Silver for Gold: The Odyssey of Edie Sedgwick – writer, director (2009)
- The Chanteuse and The Devil's Muse – writer, director (2011)
I pull this Dandy Warhol’s song out for airing not at random but because, of the artists he’s worked with, the Dandys are the coolest (aside from his own bands, of course) and this is a friggin’ great song. He co-authored and played bass on this one.
Excruciating Allure \ An Eclipse of Ships \ David J (2014)
J’s next solo album is consistent with the stripped down, acoustic sound his recent solo work has dwelled upon. Another great title, “Excruciating Allure” captures his lovely style.
Hang Up \ Lion \ Peter Murphy (2014)
After all these years it almost seems like Peter Murphy has something to prove. Of his Bauhaus brethren his stuff is the most engaging, hard ass, and current sounding. Go figure. He followed up the excellent Ninth with Lion, another Industrial Goth romp filled with fantastic songs. It managed to catch enough attention to reach the US charts, hitting a lofty #173 – it was his first album to chart since 1992’s Holy Smoke.
“Hang Up” kicks it off and would sound right at home on a Nine Inch Nails album. The rest of the album is heavily electronic and is clearly helped by legendary producer and ex-Killing Joke member, Youth. It recaptures some of the drama of his Bauhaus days and, like the album before, seems to have reinvigorated his voice and passion. He has toured heavily on this album and is currently preparing for a month-long, sixteen show residency at The Chapel in San Francisco where he will perform all his albums, finishing with a 3-night set of Bauhaus songs accompanied by David J. Unfortunately it has been delayed twice due to visa issues in getting into the US. Hmm, wonder if there are any seat sales?
Love Me \ Stripped \ Daniel Ash (2014) – this song is not on the YouTube playlist due to unavailability
Daniel Ash has continued to issue singles, six more by this point since “Spooky” in 2001. He also issued a live album, Come Alive, in 2005 and an anthology in 2013. In 2014 he continued to employ his electronica skills, putting together an album of remixes of his songs. This is a dance version of “Love Me,” from L&R’s 1986 album, Express. The album was called Stripped and the selection of songs was chosen by fans. I find these albums tedious and frustrating, sending me back instead to listen to the originals. But in this age of EDM, it’s understandable that such a project like this will help re-introduce his music to new generations.
The Day that David Bowie Died \ David J (2016) - not available on Spotify
Lamenting the passing of David Bowie in early 2016, David J recorded and issued this tribute single. For a band built on the foundation of Glam-era Bowie I can’t imagine the effect of Bowie’s death on these guys. The song is included on his 2017 double album, Vagabond Songs, which I was so lucky to hear him perform that summer in one of his ‘living room’ shows (though this time it was a backyard). Apparently J performs these shows quite regularly and it’s a treat to behold. He finished the set with a fuzzy rendition of “No New Tale to Tell” and then, on request, played that first song from so long ago, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.”
Flame On \ Freedom I Love \ Daniel Ash (2017)
As noted at the start, Daniel Ash is now touring with Kevin Haskins and Haskins’ daughter, Diva Dompe, as the band Poptone. In the 2017 set list they included this song, the only one chosen from Ash’s solo work. It appears to be a song from 2007 in which he’s recently made a video for it and is including it in a new compilation of recent singles, Freedom I Love, which will also include three new songs.
Despite lengthy careers and never having topped any charts or packed any large auditoriums, Daniel Ash, Peter Murphy, David J, and Kevin Haskins have still achieved a significant legacy of influence and great music. It’s their refusal to bow down to convention combined with the force of their varied personalities that created such landmark songs like “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” “Yin and Yang and the Flower Pot Man,” and “Cuts You Up.” Bauhaus may not have invented Goth music and fashion, but they are one of the most visible and popular of those acts, doing much to promote the genre as it grew in the 80s (including buying a hearse once and dealing with rumours that Murphy slept in a coffin). And despite combining in different ways and eventually going their own way, there's a consistency in sound and style that holds these four together like a spiritual bond. As with so many ground-breaking acts, they were unable to stay together for long, and it’s the variety and breadth of the subsequent work that is testament to the talent held in that original line up. These days Poptone is touring and there are rumours that Peter Murphy and David J will embark on a Bauhaus focused tour. So if you have the chance, catch up on their music live or by exploring the incredible discography of these Bauhaus originated individuals, whether playing together or separately their music is impressive and I’ve been very glad to catch up with it all.