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 Stones’ 2000 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.