Beyond the BCB 130 or whatever: Bauhaus

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Darkness_Fish
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Beyond the BCB 130 or whatever: Bauhaus

Postby Darkness_Fish » 12 Jul 2017, 21:34

Since it was brought up that we could do with a good old Bauhaus thread, I thought that I'd try my hand at writing a bit of waffle about them. Firstly, I should come clean, I can't really stand back and write about Bauhaus with a cool, aloof detachment, and I can't discuss the band without a bit of nostalgic self-indulgence. The impact they had on my listening habits is immeasurable, and for years they were the de facto greatest band of all-time. They're close to my heart, always will be. I guess my music taste was fairly odd by the time I discovered Bauhaus, I was something of a metal-head, loved Metallica, and was in the habit of listening to John Peel for a quick blast of Napalm Death, Electro Hippies or Bolt Thrower, so I wasn't averse to what was considered out of the ordinary. This would have been around '87 or '88, and I was 13/14. Odd kid. None of my friends listened to this shit, I don't really know why I did.

My brother was at 6th form college at the time, and I remember he was getting into some goth stuff via his mates, he had a major All About Eve obsession, which I never understood. And some Bowie. But anyway, I remember him coming home with a copy of 1979-1983, and while I've often claimed that it was an immediate hit, it wasn't that straight forward. I quite liked the second record immediately, which was the lighter stuff generally, but that first record intrigued me. Like I said, I was into extreme metal, I didn't think much would challenge me, but here was this band with pop structures, but something kind of unnerving and difficult to understand. It just didn't fit into the easy categories I understood existed: there was pop, rock, metal, and it was generally how chunky the guitar was, and how fast it played; that differentiated everything. I played that first record over and over again, until it somehow all made sense. Unfortunately, from that point onwards, little else did.

Bauhaus were drummer, bassist, guitarist, and singer. The rhythm section were brothers, and properly tight as brothers should be, David J and Kevin Haskins provided the structure of the song, and pretty much most of the melody. Daniel Ash's guitar quite often provided some semblance of melody, but more often than not it would appear he got bored, and would pour flashes of colour all over the track. Not in the traditional stop-the-song I'm playing a solo way. Not in yer prog-metal super-fast riffing style, but in yer proing-schreee-zwoop-schrat kinda thing. Making a noise that for once made term 'electric guitar' seem quite literal in every sense of the word, it wasn't just amplified, it didn't just play chords, it genuinely flashed bright. Pete Murphy obviously resented that someone would try and steal the limelight in such an obvious way, and would also stop just singing, but would stretch his vowels, squeal, shout, and genuinely force the engineer to add as much reverb to his Bowier-than-Bowie mewls.

This to me, has become entrenched as my aural ideal for guitar bands. The bassist and drummer should be bloody good, and in no way should just be keeping time. They must be the actual song. The rhythm guitarist should go and find a better thing to do with his life; he's providing scaffolding, and that makes all constructions ugly. The guitarist should do what the hell he wants to, and if the singer has to fucking well show off at the top of his lungs in every single bastard song, then that is right and proper. You can argue against this view-point. You could probably well do it with songs I've proclaimed to be the greatest songs of all-time. But I won't listen because I'm a middle-aged man who had this burned into his very core. And this is what Bauhaus are to me.

So anyway, you've probably skipped through all this and are already wondering where the video clip of Bela Lugosi's Dead is. Well, for this post at least, that song can remain in its coffin. It's an immense statement as a debut single, a dub-influenced 9-minute mood-fest in the heyday of the 3-minute new-wave song. But few bands have such an albatross around their neck, and you already have your own opinion of that track. Instead, lets have some examples of how they were actually musically ace, proving your entrenched opinions wrong:

Muscle in Plastic. Showing that they do something with their funk and disco influences, but still sound a world away from the other post-punkers of the time. A fine example of David J and Kevin Haskins doing all the work, with the others trying to steal the limelight:


In the Night. This might start like your more typical goff track, note David J is really providing the basis of the song again, with Murphy and Ash properly unloading all over the track as it picks up pace:


Hope. The last track from their final album. Such a pretty little aimless nothing of a song, almost reminds me of the end of The Wicker Man, you can picture the band swaying from side to side, chirping away happily, getting on with completing the album. Not really caring that the lead singer is in hospital. Who'd have thought that would cause a split?
Last edited by Darkness_Fish on 13 Jul 2017, 09:17, edited 1 time in total.
Saving my holier-than-thou nonsense for a more deserving cause since '82

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The Modernist
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Re: Beyond the BCB 130 or whatever: Bauhaus

Postby The Modernist » 12 Jul 2017, 22:10

I saw them a few times in the early eighties. They were a much more creative and imaginative band than the 'goth' tag would have you believe and had a great rhythm section, but the bombast and pretensions would sometimes overwhelm them! I can still enjoy some of their stuff. This is a cracker, killer bassline...


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Quaco
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Re: Beyond the BCB 130 or whatever: Bauhaus

Postby Quaco » 12 Jul 2017, 22:25

Definitely a band I wouldn't have listened to without friends putting them on, but I found I really did like them. Haven't listened to them much in the ensuing years, but I have been putting them on a bit again lately. They really are a 'band' band, with every member pulling their own weight. One of my favorite tracks is 'Exquisite Corpse', in all its glory, very clearly showing this band-like thing ...



They are one of the few bands to have solo projects that were excellent too. Murphy solo, Tones on Tail, Dali's Car, Love and Rockets -- all quite worthwhile.
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Re: Beyond the BCB 130 or whatever: Bauhaus

Postby pcqgod » 13 Jul 2017, 01:30

It was Peter Murphy's birthday yesterday, I believe. Daniel Ash is one of my favorite guitarists because he is always making interesting sounds with his guitar, never relying on a standard sound. Like on this track he is clearly playing a riff, but also just setting off this barrage of odd sounds. Also agree with everything said about each member being a major contributor to the sound.

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Darkness_Fish
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Re: Beyond the BCB 130 or whatever: Bauhaus

Postby Darkness_Fish » 13 Jul 2017, 12:00

Quaco wrote:. One of my favorite tracks is 'Exquisite Corpse', in all its glory, very clearly showing this band-like thing ...



That's a really odd track to pick as a favourite (though I love it), one of those genuinely experimental affairs, where each member has their own sub-section. I consider Pete Murphy's section as probably his single most impressive vocal performance, where he's pushed to the fore with some lovely imagery, and he never falls into the trap of becoming too theatrical.
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Quaco
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Re: Beyond the BCB 130 or whatever: Bauhaus

Postby Quaco » 13 Jul 2017, 23:13

Did anybody ever reassemble the strips of the front cover (on Burning from the Inside) to see what the non-cut-up image originally looked like?
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jimboo
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Re: Beyond the BCB 130 or whatever: Bauhaus

Postby jimboo » 14 Jul 2017, 13:29

I remember buying Bela and seeing them live very early, roadmenders maybe ? I think. Then dark entries came out , happy days , they started off with a bang didn't they ? The debut album was a glorious noise and songs like terror couple kill colonel really were exciting. I guess they did ziggy proud for many but I didn't care for it. Rose garden is a beaut as well , great band.
Goat Boy wrote:Oh, do fuck off, prog boy.

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Darkness_Fish
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Re: Beyond the BCB 130 or whatever: Bauhaus

Postby Darkness_Fish » 14 Jul 2017, 21:10

jimboo wrote:I remember buying Bela and seeing them live very early, roadmenders maybe ? I think. Then dark entries came out , happy days , they started off with a bang didn't they ? The debut album was a glorious noise and songs like terror couple kill colonel really were exciting. I guess they did ziggy proud for many but I didn't care for it. Rose garden is a beaut as well , great band.

One of the few bands who did excellent covers without changing the style of the source material much. I normally don't approve of non-radical reinterpretations, but Ziggy, Rosegarden, Third Uncle, all magnificent covers. I think generally, it was down to Daniel Ash adding more to the guitar than was in the source.
Saving my holier-than-thou nonsense for a more deserving cause since '82