AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #291 : “GOTH – THE BEST OPENING TRACKS”

A GUEST POSTING by ECHORICH

AN ICA OF OPENING TRACKS – OR MUSINGS FROM A PART TIME GOTH

I am obviously late to the Goth ICA Party, I blame the Florida sun, the Florida rain and, well Florida.

I created this ICA almost within a day of JC’s challenge, but then, well, life…AND FLORIDA.

Here is my take, if JC isn’t already completely done with trawling through Goth songs to find the songs to link here… I decided to take a different approach and challenge my albums to an ICA OF OPENING TRACKS. Surprisingly, it works really well to my ears.

I decided to limit my Goth parameters to the imperial period of Early 80s and I tried not to include any bands that are Post Punk first and possibly Goth second. There is one, well two, exceptions and I get them out of the way right up front.

So get out a torch (flashlight for any less Anglophile Americans that may be reading) and throw some shapes on the walls of your front room…

1. Spellbound – Siouxsie And The Banshees (from Juju)

On The Banshees’ fourth album, Juju, what was already angry and twisted before, took on a darker, more mysterious mood. I would never really describe Siouxsie And The Banshees as Goth. They were Punks that were Post Punks before Paul Morley or Nick Kent could fight over who coined the term.

Juju opens with one of the most dark and thrilling songs I have ever heard – Spellbound.

John McGeoch’s crystalline electric and franticly strummed acoustic guitars dance and run across a bed of Budgie’s martial drums and Severin’s heart adjusting bass. But it’s Siouxsie that commands your attention throughout. She’s singing a cautionary tale that, well it’s too late to escape from. Her nightmare is worse than anything Chuckie ever got up to on screen.

2. One Hundred Years – The Cure (from Pornography)

Robert Smith seemed to be on a similar musical journey with The Cure around the same time as The Banshees. The goal of Pornography was to make music that was dense and dark…it succeeds. Again, were The Cure Goth, or did Goth need The Cure to give it some lineage. I think the latter.

Pornography opens with One Hundred Years, a fan favorite for 40 years now (damn 40 years!), it is frantic and scary. It deals with the horrors of war over the prior 100 years, so Robert Smith can be surprisingly political, but darkly political.

3. The Fatal Impact – Dead Can Dance (from Dead Can Dance)

Dead Can Dance are possibly one of the purest expressions of Goth Music. The musical vision of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerard was global and included influences of Middle Eastern music, African rhythms and Polynesian mysticism and even Gaelic folk. But there’s was a dark musical world filled with incantations and intense meditations.

The Fatal Impact leads off their debut eponymous album and mixes tribal chants with a repetitive bass and guitar instrumental. Every time I listen to it I want it to be twice as long as it is. It’s ghostly and intimidating, but you will find your body moving to the rhythms.

4. Black Planet – The Sisters Of Mercy (from First And Last And Always)

There are many versions of The Sisters Of Mercy, but all of them start and end with the mind and ambitions of Andrew Eldritch I love the dark, discontent of their debut album, First And Last And Always, but I also equally love the the very deliberate musical exuberance and nihilism of Floodland.

Black Planet opens First And Last And Always and it doesn’t disappoint with its Hammer Film single guitar cord opening. Eldritch is almost recites the song’s lyrics. Even the chorus is seems like a literary device to tie his verses together. Black Planet is a song about a world that’s done and never coming back, but one we have to live through.

5. A Way – The Bolshoi (from Friends)

A great Goth song is one you can dance too while you sing along, proving that Goths could do more than one thing at a time. The Bolshoi belong to that second string of Goth, bands who rode the wave of band like The Sisters and Bauhaus into the offices of record companies wanting a piece of the action.

A Way is hella-catchy and a great album opener. Trevor Tanner uses just the right mix of Goth lead vocal tricks and more than capable ability to carry a tune. And A Way is a tune. There may never have been a more radio friendly Goth song. It’s obvious the members of The Bolshoi knew how to play their instruments and Mick Glossop acquits himself very well behind the mixing and production desk.

6. All Night Long – Peter Murphy (from Love Hysteria)

Goth’s Elder Statesman. Yeah, he really is. I know your wondering where Bauhaus is in this list – they aren’t. Two reasons, one picking an opening track from a Bauhaus album wasn’t satisfying and two, as obvious as selections one and two were on this ICA, I had to stop myself.

Murphy’s debut solo effort Should The World Fail To Fall Apart is a good album, but it lack cohesion. He hit pay dirt with Love Hysteria. 9 songs that build, one upon the other, to haunt the listener. All Night Long opens the album with a lush, dark, almost forbidden sound. It’s Murphy invading a beautiful dream and gaining control of you.

7. Wasteland – The Mission (from God’s Own Medicine)

Don’t pick a fight with Andrew Eldritch, you will lose. Wayne Hussey learned this the hard way – but maybe in the end, since The Mission managed to play some of the largest venues in the world and The Sisters Of Mercy never really broke out, he really won. The Mission/Sisters Of Mercy drama is it’s own Goth Soap Opera.
It took Hussey and The Mission a few years after leaving The Sisters, and a lawsuit or two to finally get an album out. He followed The Sisters pattern of releasing a few singles to gather an audience and then finally in late 1986, God’s Own Medicine came out.

Wasteland opens the album in true Goth Anthem style. You can’t help singing along with the chorus and if you have ever heard the song live you know what it does to an audience. Hussey sings about many things in his songs, but there is always a woman and a very sexual undercurrent. As The Mission progressed, they lost me because they were turning into Goth’s Led Zeppelin…and there are even signs here on Wasteland in my opinion.

8. Horse Nation – The Cult (from Dreamtime)

Ian Astbury took his time getting to The Cult’s debut album Dreamtime. After leaving Positive Punk band, Southern Death Cult, which was really more a collective than a band, but possibly more than any other band, showed what Goth could be, he hooked up with ex Theatre of Hate guitarist Billy Duffy and the rest is Goth history. A few singles and and EP as Death Cult, established the band as the next big thing within the growing genre. Their debut album Dreamtime is filed with Spaghetti Western guitars, Native American mysticism and most of all mystery.

Horse Nation opens the album with swagger and a cautionary warning that what has been done against the indigenous people will be avenged. It’s The Cult’s arrow shot into the cloudy blue sky.

9. Upstairs – Gene Loves Jezebel (from Promise)

Goth from Wales. GLJ (as the fans called them back in the day) began releasing music at about the time the Positive Punk scene was morphing into the Goth scene in the UK. They were signed to Beggars Banquet’s Goth sub-label, Situation Two and the debut Promise did well in the indie charts. Their sound was aggressive and I would describe it further as more creepy than scary, but absolutely dark in their earliest incarnations.

Upstairs leads off Promise and has a lot of influence from The Banshees and Bauhaus to my mind but the aggression is much more in your face than with their forebears. It can really get your blood flowing. Upstairs was a favorite of mine live and they usually saved it for the encore.

10. Nothing Wrong – Red Lorry Yellow Lorry (from Nothing Wrong)

The Lorries never got their due, in my opinion. They were more developed than most of their contemporaries and had many influences from the artier side of Post Punk as from anywhere else. On Nothing Wrong, I love the gatling gun intensity of the opening percussion sets the track up to build. It’s dense, dark and verging on the industrial. I am a fan of Chris Reed’s almost mumbled vocals. They blend into the music rather than tower over it.

11. Dreamland – The Rose Of Avalanche (from In Rock)

Possibly the most obscure band on this ICA playlist, The Rose Of Avalanche, like Red Lorry Yellow Lorry , hailed from Leeds and came to the attention of John Peel after heavily gigging around The UK. They self produced a number of singles, in true Goth tradition and ultimately signed with Fire Records, which, I’ll be honest, never knew what to do with the band.

Dreamland leads off their first proper album, In Rock, and has lots of influences from Post Punk, but gets it’s darkness from LA Psychedelia. There’s a bit of a Jim Morrison swagger in lead singer Phil Morris and the guitar work reminds me of Arthur Lee’s Love.

12. A Day – Clan Of Xymox (from Clan Of Xymox)

We have left the UK shores to the Netherlands for just a few minutes to include Clan Of Xymox. They were so very much a 4AD band in my mind. They pushed the boundaries of Goth into industrial and at time ambient territories. They had a knack for orchestrated openings that would get darker and darker as the song progressed.

A Day, which open their self titled debut, is a perfect example of what makes a 4AD Goth band. Like label mates Modern English, they tried to elevate or at least mess around with the established Goth sounds. A Day is heavy with synths and drum patterns and the song seems to swallow up singer Ronny Moorings, forcing him to fight his way out over and over. Their Goth is on the edge and seems like it could leap of that edge at any moment.

13. All I Want – Danse Society (from Looking Through)

Let’s finish this dark and moody ICA with a band I consider Goth Standard Bearers.

Danse Society was one of the earliest Goth bands and released singles even earlier than The Sisters Of Mercy – in fact you could be forgiven for mixing the two bands up in those earliest days – in my opinion.

By 1986, Danse Society had gained a good deal of attention with their second album Heaven Is Waiting – mostly because of their take on the Rolling Stones2000 Light Years From Home. Singer Steve Rawlings had a rock star swagger and certainly must have really believed his own press as he managed to alienate the entire band who left him high and dry after recording the follow up, Looking Through.

All I Want opens the album and relies on a lot of moody synths to drive the atmosphere of the song. Rawlings is another singer that was certainly influenced by Jim Morrison and to a lesser extent Mick Jagger. I remember when seeing the band that I was one of the only guys upfront in a sea of black crimped hair, patchouli wearing and clove cigarette smoking Goth Girls. Steve was a Goth Pinup. Having said that, it’s his vocal delivery that help propel the song.

ECHORICH

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #290 : “THE NON-GOTH’S GOTH ICA”

A GUEST POSTING by MIDDLE-AGED MAN

I feel a bit of a fraud writing this – I don’t have black hair, I haven’t ever dyed my hair black, I’ve never worn black leather trousers, I’ve never back-combed my hair. But I do like the music so here goes – I should say given my complete lack of appropriate dress sense some of the bands (and they are all bands) do not follow the dress code but to my ears sound goth.

Siouxsie & The Banshees – Playground Twist

And to start with the band which to my mind started the goth movement both musically and as a fashion choice. They may have started out as a ‘punk’ band but very quickly moved on to create their own sound and led the way.

Joy Division – Dead Souls

A band who visually don’t fit but musically – with pronounced bass, picked out guitar notes and a deep male voice coupled with a suitably morose subject matter. Its still hard to believe 40 years later than this was released as a ‘B’ side on an obscure French label with an extremely limited pressing.

Southern Death Cult – Fatman

A very short lived band who only released one single during their existence, but made a stunning TV appearance on The Tube, which was the first time a band described in the weeklies as Goth made it onto the little screen. Of course, the singer Ian Astbury went on to form the (death) Cult .

X Mal Deutschland – Incubus Succubus II

I was surprised how many of my favourite early goth songs were on the 4AD label. This is the first single released by this German band on 4AD- a firm favourite of John Peel at the time and one where the influence of Siouxsie is strong.

The Twilight Sad – Reflection of the Television

I’d never thought of Twilight Sad as Goth, but this stunner ( my fav from Forget the Night Ahead) fits the bill perfectly

Play Dead – The Tenant

Back to classic Goth – I really thought this had been released as a single, but no it was the second track on their first album ‘The First Flower’ , it should have been.

Cocteau Twins – Wax and Wane

Back to 4AD and a great track from their debut album ‘Garlands’ which barely hints at their future lighter musical path .

Danse Society – Heaven is Waiting

The Yorkshire role can not be ignored and was larger than just the Sisters of Mercy band/label- this is a great example from Barnsley. The Zig Zag magazine had by this point become the strongest printed supporter of the Goth movement and the Danse Society (from memory) were regularly featured. Released in 1983 it has a slightly softer tone and more pronounced keyboard than many of its contemporaries and is better for it.

Tanit – Can An Actor Bleed

The joys of the internet- Tanit were a French band who released this as the title track of an EP in 1983- It was probably around 2018 that I first heard it- and its brilliant – very powerful female singer (Elsa Drezner) over a bass led backing.

Killing Joke – The Raven King

Killing Joke were for me just a bit too aggressive to be truly Goth during their first incarnation but had all the required elements, having disbanded and then reformed the album ‘Absolute Dissent’ was released in 2010, this track is a celebration of Paul Raven, a band member who had passed away in 2007 from a heart attack.

Esben and the Witch- Marching Song

Released as a single in 2010 as the lead off track from their first album ‘Violet Cries’– which was described by the NME as “gothic but not goth” which to be honest is a fair description of this haunting track.

Sisters of Mercy – Amphetamine Logic

Obviously no goth selection is complete without the Sisters of Mercy who are set the tone and style for so many who followed- remember its not goth without dry ice

MIDDLE AGED MAN

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #289 : “GOTH – 13 SHADES OF BLACK”

A GUEST POSTING by flimflamfan

If the internet is to believed, the term Gothic Rock was coined in 1967, when John Stickney reviewed a Doors gig. Some claim that what we now know as Goth began in the late 1970s, in the UK. Others claim the roots of Goth lie in the early 80s burgeoning into a full-on scene in mid-80s – my view is more aligned to this but I don’t know enough to dispute any other view.

Like most scenes the music press garlanded this new scene only to pillory it later. Unfortunately, the scene itself, bathed knowingly in the cold blood of parody. On occasion some of the bands did dress and behave in a quite ridiculous fashion which detracted from some of the exceptional music being made.

I don’t pretend to be a Goth aficionado, but on the whole, I’d say that it’s a genre that I enjoyed. Some of my choices may be arguable, terribly obvious or possibly a tad pompous. This is intended as a flavour of Goth in no particular chronological order and definitely not sequenced – that’d take me ages.

I’ll begin where Goth entered my life (although, at this time, I’d never heard the term Goth). Hello, Dead or Alive.

I was a pain in the arse fan of Dead or Alive. The first I heard of them was the It’s Been Hours Now e.p. and I devoured all that came before and some that came after. The e.p. remains a firm favourite of mine. With a front man like Burns and the musicianship of Hussey (he’ll appear again, obviously) Dead or Alive, at this point owned Goth (all other opinions accepted). While there are several tracks that could feature here I have chosen I’m Falling.

Dead or Alive – I’m Falling (1980)

Before Cocteau Twins became synonymous with Indie, Shoegaze, Ethereal Pop, Ambient or whatever other inappropriate descriptor that was thrown in their direction they were a punk/new wave band and some will argue a Goth band – for a time. They are a band I love and I was shocked to learn that this year is 26 years on from the release of the LP Milk and Kisses. Choosing a song to add here has not been an easy task. I eventually whittled it down to two: Hazel and Perhaps Some Other Aeon. In the end I plummeted for the latter as it continues to strike me as odd that this magnificent song was initially only released on a Japanese CD reissue of Garlands (1987).

Cocteau Twins – Perhaps Some Other Aeon (1982)

I have no clear idea where I first heard Red Lorry Yellow Lorry’s Walking On Your Hands (I suspect a short-lived club night at Rooftops on Sauchiehall Street in the centre of Glasgow but can’t be sure). However, I knew instantly that I had to dance to it. It was one of the few songs played at a Goth disco that really animated some of those dancing – the speed of that floor-face pacing, exhilarating. I can smell the dry-ice now.

A truly exceptional, pulsing, pop song.

Red Lorry Yellow Lorry – Walking On Your Hands (1986)

Specimen band members ran the Batcave (a London club night, 1982). Bands that would appear there included Sex Gang Children and Alien Sex Fiend. Batcave was a place to be seen much like other scene clubs before it. Wikipedia informs us that regulars included: Nick Cave, Robert Smith, Siouxsie, Steven Severin, Bauhaus and Marc Almond.

I first encountered Specimen via children’s tv show (I still have the performance on VHS), the internet informs me the shows was called No. 73 with Specimen appearing on June 30th (1984) to perform the song below and Sharp Teeth Pretty Teeth.

I can’t say Lovers is one of the greatest songs in the world but I often think the bands place in history has often been overlooked or hastily papered-over in favour of their involvement with Batcave. Strange thing here is I’d describe Specimen as Goth-Glam-Rock. They really did like to ‘ham’ it up.

Specimen – Lovers (1983)

Come the late 80s/early 90s change was afoot in Goth-world at Glasgow’s premier Goth-haunt The Tech (Glasgow Caledonian University Student Union, as was).

Juliette was an aptly-named and rather attractive, young goth who was more than a little acquainted with white face make-up. She was on the periphery on my wee group (as I was on hers) but we got along rather well and were known to enjoy the Goth-shoe-shuffle together on more than one occasion. Imagine my smile when I see Juliette catch my eye just as the intro to The Cure’s Boys Don’t Cry begins.

We move towards each other from opposite sides of the dance floor. As we move closer – our heads floor-bound – there they were … a blimmin’ over-sized pair of trainers adorning her small feet. They looked like clown-shoes and cartoony on her petite frame. We danced – the trainers syncopating in and out of view – mesmerising. The song ended but I had to ask … “why are you wearing those trainers?” Apparently, Robert Smith had recently posed for a well-known music weekly wearing an over-sized, poorly-laced pair of pumps. As a consequence, trainers in Goth-world – were now ‘in’. Goth had, to my mind, a rather uncompromising uniform and this new-fangled change marked what I describe as the decline in Goth. When counter-culture embraces the mainstream it rarely works out well. Silly? Perhaps?

The Cure – Boys Don’t Cry (1979)

(Not Juliette!!!!)

It would be just too obvious to add Bauhaus’s Bela Lugosi’s Dead, wouldn’t it? It’s a song I’m extremely fond of and one I danced to whenever I got the opportunity. This was hardcore Goth-dancing that was akin to Dynamation at it’s jittery, stop-motion best. The place to dance to this was Delirium 7 (Rooftops) and a short-lived Sunday night goth-night that also operated on Sunday nights at The Cathouse. The dance floor at Rooftops is small and the back of the wall was mirrored. Those pesky goths draped a black curtain over the mirrored wall to make the place seem more dank – if you’ve ever been to Rooftops you’ll know it was dank enough to begin with. A friend and I took great pleasure in pulling the curtain aside, on occasion, as the disco-lights reflected and caught the dancing goths like vampires in the sunlight. It was very childish of us. I’d do it again.

It was at Delirium 7 that, I requested and had my first dance to, Lagartija Nick. It was an exhilarating experience. The dance-floor was full with what seemed like cocaine-fueled Goths abandoning the cooler-than-thou aloof personas for a good old, invigorating dance – like Psychobillies slamming without the Psychobillies, or the slamming.

Bauhaus – Lagartija Nick (1982)

I know very little about Macrch Violets but I do know that many felt rather precious about the band. The first and second singles were released on Eldritch’s Merciful Release label before seemingly setting up their own label, Rebirth. Religious As Hell is the song I probably know the best but the one I’d dance to more is Walk Into The Sun. There’s a palpable indie-twee feel to this which is why I favour it.

March Violets – Walk Into The Sun (1984)

One of my favourite bands of all time – Dead Can Dance. I care not a jot as to the many descriptors flung hastily in their direction – the music speaks for itself. I’d be an arse if I said baroque, so baroque it is – for now. My first purchase was the LP Spleen and Ideal and what a delight it is. I never thought of the band as Goth so was surprised when out one evening to hear Avatar belting out over the dancefloor. The dancefloor was sparsely populated but I did my best to fill it up – with my well-practiced Goth-walk.

Fast forward to 1993. I had just met my beau (aye, he’s still here) and we decided to take a wee trip to a small town in Ireland, Bundoran. As you do on holiday – we visited another town close-by – the more well-known, Sligo. As we casually sauntered down one of the main streets I stopped in my tracks.

Above us, across the entire street, was a banner with the art work for Dead Can Dance’s Labyrinth LP informing locals the band would be playing, in what I recall as a local warehouse. I scanned. I scanned. I hurriedly scanned the dates. I yelped, loudly. We’d still be in the area. Immediately a hunt was on to find out where we could get tickets. Tickets bought. Just before the band took the stage an announcement was made informing patrons that smoking was not allowed and photos were prohibited – both negatively affecting the experience the band wished to provide. Could it get any better? Oh, it did. It did. It. It did. I was my usual emotional mess and when the gig ended I was exhausted – in the best possible way. As the crowd began to shuffle the announcer returned “the band would like to invite you to an after-show party”. What, eh? “Will someone please pick me up from this floor!” We went. The band mingled. Way more gregarious than I had ever thought. I stood in what I kid you not was a nook – a small shallow kind of doorway – watching. My partner, new to me, said “why don’t you go say hello.” Clearly, he had a lot to learn. I continued watching, soaking the whole night in. One of the best nights of my life.

Dead Can Dance – Avatar (1985)

Unfortunately, for Fields of the Nephilim, they were drowned in negative reviews purely because of how they chose to look rather than the music they released. I believe they were unfairly maligned and an absolutely great band. Apart from the first single I think I have everything else on vinyl. Choosing a song has been difficult. Power was the first I was aware of and in terms of club nights Blue Water, Psychonaut were featured regularly to say nothing of LP tracks. However, I’m going to choose Preacher Man as the track that best fits here. I have so many fond memories of dancing to this very popular dance-floor-filler with folks who’s faces I can see now but have no idea how they are, or where they are.

Fields of the Nephilim – Preacher Man (1987)

Shelleyan Orphan were what I describe as niche-goth and very much on the outskirts of the scene. They have been described as Baroque-Goth-Folk. I think it’s fair to say that musically they orbited the sphere of All About Eve. On this track this vocal is much more akin to Harriet Wheeler (The Sundays) – never, ever a bad thing – and Everything But The Girl.

Shelleyan Orphan – Anatomy of Love (1987)

Strange thing about Polaricht by Xmal Deutschland. On first hearing it I thought it was a Siouxsie and the Banshees track that I hadn’t heard before – which at that time would have been most odd. A cracker to dance to and a superb introduction to the band. Had I not chosen Xmal Deutschland I would have chosen Clan of Xymox, Moscoviet Mosquito. It’s the only track I own by the band – appearing on the 4AD compilation Lonely As An Eyesore.

Xmal Deutschland – Polaricht (1987)

As JC recently posted This Corrosion – the impetus for this piece – it does make life a little easier in choosing a song by The Sisters of Mercy. Often regarded as ‘the’ Goth band The Sisters of Mercy captured and expertly exploited the scene. Later they attempted to distance themselves from it but I don’t believe anyone was having any of that. Again, I whittled this down to two songs Temple of Love and Alice. I opted for Alice as it too is a superb song to dance to. I feel guilty leaving Temple of Love on the shelf – it’s a cracker.

The Sisters of Mercy paved way for Wayne Hussey’s The Mission and brought greater prominence to The Gun Club with the addition of Patricia Morrison to the Sister’s ranks.

The Sisters of Mercy – Alice (1982)

As interest in all things Goth seemed to wane, in terms of a vibrant scene, a new scene was kicking and shouting to be heard – Industrial. Industrial cut its teeth in Goth clubs and Goths (well, some Goths) really took to it. The most prominent Industrial band at that time was Ministry in conjunction with alt. metal band Body Count. Goth clubs could no longer survive by playing the old favourites although some did attempt to fly the ‘true’ Goth flag, for a while. Now, such clubs would probably be full with nostalgia seekers and new-blood Goths.

Spearheading the change in electronica and what it termed ‘Electric Body Music’ was Front 242. It’s double a-side single Headhunter/Welcome to Paradise was a weekly staple of any Goth club night I attended – both sides of the single. I love it. Absolutely love it.

Front 242 – Welcome to Paradise (1988)

Bands loved by many but not by me: Virgin Prunes, Christian Death, The Mission, Ghost Dance, Inkubus Sukkubus, Skeletal Family, Lords of the New Church etc…

An argument to be had here is that the songs chosen above don’t accurately represent the breadth of the Goth scene. I’d agree with that. These songs/bands represent a small fraction of the bands involved in the scene and act as more of a personalised taster rather than a definition.

Accidentally, I chose 13 songs. The dark-force is strong in this one …

Flimflamfan