SOME LATER EXAMPLES OF THE BAUHAUS SCHOOL OF ARTISTIC CREATIVITY

I’ve long had the impression that Bauhaus had enjoyed decent enough chart success in the early 80s. I did know that their cover of Ziggy Stardust was by far and away their biggest hit and that their finest moment, Bela Lugosi’s Dead, hadn’t ever charted but has probably collectively sold enough copies over the years to be close to being their best-selling effort.

It was something of a surprise to look things up and discover that only two of their singles ever crackled the Top 40 meaning there was just one other hit beyond the cover. If I hadn’t already seen the answer, guess #1 would have been Kick In the Eye and guess #2 would have been Lagartija Nick, but both of these stalled in the 40s. Turns out it was their farewell single, one that was released in April 1983 and which climbed to #26:-

mp3 : Bauhaus – She’s In Parties (12″version)

Things had gone a bit sour for the band shortly after them enjoying the chart success with Ziggy Stardust. It had helped bring about a growth in audiences and as did the appearance of the band in the horror movie The Hunger, in which the afore-mentioned Bela Lugosi’s Dead featured prominently at the beginning. Oh, and not forgetting that frontman Peter Murphy had also been the face of a rather eye-catching and distinctive advertising campaign for cassette tapes in which his face appeared on billboards all across the UK as well as within a TV ad that sort of paid homage to music videos.

As with any bands, the frontman is crucial to the media focus but just as the attention was focussing on Bauhaus, their singer fell ill and indeed work on what was going to be their fourth album was initially delayed and then embarked upon without him being around much in the studio. What became Burning On The Outside was eventually released in the summer of 1983 by which time the band had more or less called it a day – there certainly wasn’t much done in the way of promotion and yet it still went Top 20 and sold enough copies to qualify for a silver disc (at least 60,000).

She’s In Parties, with its mix of goth, late-70s Bowie, pop and hints of dub, was an excellent choice as lead-off single for the album – as it turned out, given that there were so many underlying problems in 1983, it was the only single. Turns out, it was actually an older number, rescued somewhat from the vaults as they were struggling in the absence of Murphy to deliver enough material for a full record.

Here’s the b-sides from the 12”:-

mp3 : Bauhaus – Here’s The Dub (Special Effects by ‘Loonatik & Drinks)
mp3 : Bauhaus – Departure

The former is a remix of the a-side while the latter, which was also on the 7”, was from a John Peel session that had been broadcast the previous year

Worth mentioning that while She’s In Parties was the last commercial single the band would release, the end of the year would see a fan-club only single issued as a thank you to those who had paid a subscription for material only to have been let down by the break-up of the band. It’s a ridiculously rare piece of vinyl with seemingly less than 300 copies known to be in circulation, and as such fetches many hundreds of pounds as and when anyone offers a second-hand sale; but the track was made available as long ago as 1988 when Burning On The Outside was issued as a CD with some bonus tracks and has also appeared on some ‘best of’ or compilation albums:-

mp3 : Bauhaus – The Sanity Assassin

The b-side of the fan club single?? It’s another cover….and one which would be taken to the #1 spot in the UK just a couple of years later by Doctor and The Medics:-

mp3 : Bauhaus – Spirit In The Sky

It took until 2013 before this became available, thanks to its inclusion on a 5xCD box set…..and is perhaps evidence that some things are best kept in the vaults!

JC

THE IDEA WAS TO RECREATE A LYNCHIAN DYSTOPIA

Under Canvas Under Wraps was the third single to be released by The Delgados, back in June 1996, on their own Chemikal Underground label. But it was the first to have a promo video made:-

There’s a superb description of the video, courtesy of the band:-

As rare as hen’s teeth, this is the first video The Delgados ever filmed, for the Evening Session favourite “Under Canvas Under Wraps”. Cobbled together with ridiculously little money, the idea was to recreate a Lynchian dystopia and although we tried our best, it came out as us dressing up in a hotel and acting like tits.

Nothing wrong with that though, and trivia fans may want to know that the room Alun and Emma are in was the same room used for the ‘London drug deal’ location in Trainspotting…

I finally got my hands on a second hand copy of the 7″ vinyl and here’s all the tracks for your enjoyment:-

mp3 : The Delgados – Under Canvas Under Wraps
mp3 : The Delgados – Een Telf
mp3 : The Delgados – Bear Cub
mp3 : The Delgados – Strathcona

The last of these is a very short acoustic track, recorded in Alun Woodward‘s living room, and about as lo-fi a song as I’ve ever heard.

Again, I’ll leave it to the band to review the single:-

The first Delgados single to make any kind of impact on national radio, Under Canvas Under Wraps was to become Single Of The Week on Steve Lamacq & Jo Whiley’s Evening Session on Radio 1 which in turn led to the band being offered a high profile support slot with Elastica. The origins of the track are relatively hazy except for the fact that we wanted the song to start at a really breakneck pace and then get progressively faster. Problem was that after we released it as a single, we went into the rehearsal room to practice it and discovered that we were shit at playing it – it survived the early tours (out of necessity) and then got dumped from the sets, never to reappear again until towards the end of our career.

The song was backed by a song called Bearcub, which we felt was a real progression for the band – we were right too as it still stands up now as a really interesting song with what for us then was a rather peculiar arrangement. The other B-Side Een Telf (or Teen Elf if you’re feeling slightly less obtuse) was another shouty number – the type of song we would write and record less and less as the band’s career developed.

Crayon artwork by the talented Mr Woodward…

Pointless piece of trivia: The shouting at the start of the song was recorded by Stewart who basically stood in the middle of the live room and screamed gibberish for 10 seconds. Nothing new there then…..

I do so wish they had reformed at some point…..but they didn’t and they never will.

Pointless piece of trivia: Stewart is now a fully fledged fire fighter, having passed all the tests and qualified some two years ago. I wonder if his colleagues have ever seen the above video?

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF MARC ALMOND (Parts 15-17)

If this series was an in-depth look at the entire solo career, this week’s post would have mused on the December 1989 release of the album Jacques, on which Marc Almond offered up a 12-track tribute to Jacques Brel.  The album was recorded at different times over a four-year period and was issued by Rough Trade Records, but no singles were lifted from it. The extended time period for the recording meant that all of The Willing Sinners appeared at one stage or another.

The next 45 appeared in February 1990:-

(15) A Lover Spurned b/w Exotica Rose (February 1990 – #29 in the UK charts)

Emboldened by his chat success the previous year, Marc went for a blend of the accessible pop with the Latin sounds he had been exploring a few years earlier.  The record label obviously had high hopes for the single as they put it in the hands of uber-producer Stephen Street who really did polish it up into a five-minute opus of camp magnificence.  It deserved to be a bigger hit than it was….but it wasn’t helped by the fact that mischievous folk over here were suggesting that Marc was actually singing ‘A lesson learned from a lover’s sperm’

The spoken and bitter vocal in the middle is courtesy of actress Julie T Wallace who is probably best known for the part she played in the acclaimed TV series The Life and Loves of a She-Devil

A few months later, another single was released

(16) The Desperate Hours b/w The Gambler (May 1990 – #45 in the UK charts)

This has long been one of my favourites of the solo singles…..it makes great use of a French Horn, there’s great backing vocals and above else there’s a sensational flamenco guitar solo.

Sadly, the b-side is not a cover of the Kenny Rogers classic, but is instead a rather underwhelming track co-written by Marc and long-time collaborator Billy McGhee

The relative failure of this release cast a shadow over the release of the album….there certainly had been hopes and perhaps even an expectation that Marc would have been a staple of the singles chart over the summer of 1990 and so it was that the album Enchanted kind of sneaked out in August without too much fuss or fanfare. It turned out to be an album on which Annie Hogan didn’t feature thus bringing an end to a collaboration that stretched back to the Marc and the Mambas days the best part of a decade previously.

One more single was lifted from the album but given a special remix treatment in the hope of stirring interest

(17) Waifs and Strays (The Grid Mix) b/w Old Jack’s Charm (November 1990 – #88 in the UK charts)

The Grid was the new project under which Marc’s old sparring partner, Dave Ball, was recording.  You’ll see from the poor chart showing that the hoped for magic in reuniting the pair didn’t materialise….undeservedly in my opinion.

Couple of bonus tracks this week, lifted from the 12″ picture disc of the single that I have so much time for:-

mp3 : Marc Almond – The Desperate Hours (Flamenco Mix)
mp3 : Marc Almond – The Desperate Hours (Orchestral Version)

Next week will show, once again, that Marc Almond had bouncebackability in abundance.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG(s) : #159 : THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN

From wiki:-

“Never Understand” is the first single from the Scottish alternative rock band The Jesus and Mary Chain’s debut album Psychocandy. It was the band’s first release on Blanco y Negro Records and was released through them in February 1985. The song was written by William Reid and Jim Reid, and was produced by The Jesus and Mary Chain. It is considered influential for its use of guitar feedback.

Here’s the tracks from the 12″ version. It includes a rather splendid and sweary cover of a song by Subway Sect, one that I’ve been lucky enough to have heard sung by Vic Godard in recent years:-

mp3 : The Jesus and Mary Chain – Never Understand
mp3 : The Jesus and Mary Chain – Suck
mp3 : The Jesus and Mary Chain – Ambition

I still love SWC’s description of the single as recounted when he pulled together an ICA back in November 2016:-

I don’t know if you’ve ever been chased, or ever felt like you were going to be chased, but one night I was listening to this whilst walking back from Our Price Girls house. It was about midnight and for some reason, this song utterly freaked me out. I think on reflection it was the opening bit, the frenzied squalling wall of screeching feedback sounds exactly like the sort of noise an axe wielding maniac out on a midnight killing spree makes, and frankly that makes its utterly compelling and such a twisted slice of genius.

JC

HE COULD’VE BEEN…..

…a lorry driver, poet, teacher, soldier, lawyer, doctor, writer, ticket collector, revolutionary, inmate or dreamer. But his career of choice was the fool in a six-piece band…and it most certainly was a welcome one as he and his mates brought untold pleasure to fans of new wave music in the late 70s:-

mp3 : Ian Dury & The Blockheads – What A Waste

April 1978 was when this crashed into the charts, giving the gnarled and veteran pub rocker his first real commercial success just shy of his 36th birthday.

The b-side was one of the most popular tracks from the album New Boots and Panties, released some six months previously and credited solely to the singer, albeit most (but not all) The Blockheads played on it. Also worth noting that it was given a shorter title for the single:-

mp3 : Ian Dury & The Blockheads – Wake Up

Oh, and any excuse to offer up this cover, with backing vocals from the main man himself:-

mp3 : Curve (feat Ian Dury) – What A Waste

JC

IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (29)

Some of you might argue that today’s offering wasn’t really the debut:-

mp3 : Eels – Novocaine For The Soul

This 1997 single, which went Top 10 in the UK, was the first to be released by Eels, and as such, I reckon it’s a legitimate call to have it in this series.

Mark Everett had been making music for around five years prior to this, writing and recording material under the moniker of E. Indeed there were two albums, the first of which in 1992, had spawned a couple of singles but it was only when Everett hooked up with drummer Butch Norton and bassist Tommy Walter did things really get moving, including a record deal with the newly established Dreamworks Records, a label whose founders were among the highest and mightiest of the entertainment industry – David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenburg and Steven Spielberg.

Novocaine For The Soul is an extraordinary and rather special pop single. It has the most downbeat, almost helpless sounding of lyrics which mention, among other things, living with the undead and being told by your mum that your birth was a mistake set against the most catchy and sing-a-long of tunes. It also has a very unusual and memorable promo video. It was also evidence that we had come a long way in a short period of time in respect of songs no longer being deemed as unsuitable for radio play – OK, the ‘f’ word was blanked out but it was still unusual to hear a lyric in which the protagonist was demanding he be injected with a drug so that his soul would be numbed.

In later years, as his career in the music industry developed, we got to learn a great deal more about Mark Everett, someone who in any walk of life would have to be regarded as a maverick or having a very unconventional view or approach, much of which could be explained by his upbringing as he so candidly wrote about in his incredibly readable memoir, Things The Grandchildren Should Know, which was published back in 2009.

The CD single came with three b-sides, one of which was also lifted from Beautiful Freak, the debut LP by Eels:-

mp3 : Eels – Guest List

The remaining two tracks consisted of an as-live recording of a track from the debut LP and a short but low-fi and straight-to the-point unreleased track (listen to the final two lines just after the 1:30 mark) :-

mp3 : Eels – My Beloved Monster (live from Tennessee)
mp3 : Eels – Fucker

The former would, in due course, become one of the bands best known and most loved compositions, thanks to its inclusion on the soundtrack to the movie, Shrek, which itself was a product of a separate part of the Dreamworks stable.

JC

I RECKON THIS IS THE HAPPIEST SONG IN MY ENTIRE COLLECTION

The Pogues felt pretty untouchable back in the late 80s. They had emerged out of the London punk movement – indeed a number of the members first hooking up while attending a Ramones gig in 1977. They fused Celtic connections to the energy of the new wave scene, finding ways to include banjo, mandolin, tin whistle and accordion alongside the traditional vocal/guitar/bass/drums make-up of punk bands. They also found fame and fortune via the then traditional route of extensive gigging, particularly around the pubs and venues of London gaining a reputation for ridiculously energetic and chaotic live shows. They found themselves being quoted by The Clash and Elvis Costello, touring and working with them from an early stage.

I was initially suspicious of them, thinking that it was all a bit gimmicky and was London’s way of trying to somehow feel important in the music scene at a time when the provincial cities were very much to the fore. And then The Pogues played the Students Union at Strathclyde University in June 1985, just a matter of days before I graduated – the gig was in many ways my planned farewell to the building that had been such a big part of my life over the previous four years and without which my knowledge of, and love for, alternative music of the era would not be what it is today.

It was memorable from start to finish…a look at the set list available on-line will give an idea of just how hard, fast, frantic and sweaty it all was, albeit the audience wasn’t familiar with the tracks played from the as yet unreleased Rum, Sodomy & The Lash. I bought the album a few months later and loved it, but felt that something was lacking in terms of what I’d experienced watching them live.

Fast forward three years. And to a song which was the third and final 45 taken from the album If I Should Fall From Grace With God, following on from Xmas perennial Fairytale of New York and the title track.

It reached #11 in 1988, and again it’s a scary thing to realise it is now more than 30 years of age and millions of folk across the UK, never mind the world, will be unaware of it. I reckon this is the happiest song I have in my collection. There are great tunes such as Up, Up and Away by The Beloved which make me smile. But that was and is a hymn to the age of the E and pharmaceutically supported happiness isn’t real euphoria. For that, you need a piece of music that is just plain bonkers and whose instantly recognisable opening notes bring a wry smile with the realisation that the true joys is a matter of seconds away after the comedy whistle.

mp3 : The Pogues – Fiesta

Wiki advises that it was written by the band’s Jem Finer and Shane McGowan, but with additional credits now given to Edmund Kotscher and Rudi Lindt as the refrain seemingly is similar to one of their compositions, and a hit in the USA back in 1957 :-

mp3 : Will Glahe and His Orchestra – Liechensteiner Polka

Just ever so slightly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Polka on TVV….who’d ever have thought it????

JC