Monday, July 11, 2011

Bauhaus: Weniger Ist Mehr

Review # 30
Artist: Bauhaus
Title: Weniger Ist Mehr
Format: LP
Label: none (unofficial release)
Year: 2006
Songs: 10

 Weniger Ist Mehr is an unlicensed collection of rare tracks by goth/post-punk icons Bauhaus. If you aren't familiar with Bauhaus, they are considered by many to be the first ever goth band, and are probably best known for their ode to the star Universal Studios' Dracula, "Bella Lugosi's Dead."  A British band that formed in 1978, the early Bauhaus songs like those that appear on this record reflect the band's musical lineage. Many of these songs were essentially a distinct, dark, and often creepy take on the British punk sound, with the influence of the first record by the Damned being perhaps the most apparent to me. This record features some rare tracks by the band, the bulk of which are live studio tracks recorded in 1979, and originally released on a cd accompanying a book about the band entitled Beneath the Mask.

Many of these tracks are songs that even a casual fan of Bauhaus would recognize, like "A God in the Alcove" and "Dark Entries," although the recordings are more raw and stripped down than those the band commercially released. Generally, these are good recordings, different enough from the commercially released versions to be worth owning, but not departing drastically from the sound of final versions. The one possible exception is the slowed down version of "Telegram Sam," a cover of a song by Marc Bolan from T-Rex.  Bauhaus's version of this song has always been one of my favorites in their catalogue, but the version that appears on this record seems to lag behind and lose steam a bit due to it's slower pacing. Highlights from the record include the crushing dirge "Nerves," the spooky "Hollow Hills," and the energetic version of "Dark Entries" found on this record.

By far my favorite track on this record though, and the one I actually bought it for, is the band's tongue-in-cheek cover of the 1960s Christian rock hit, "Spirit in the Sky." The band delivers the song sparsely while Peter Murphy recites the lyrics in a perfect deadpan, sometimes slightly drawing out the syllables:

"I'm going up the spirit in the sky... it's where I'm gonna go when I diiiie."

The songs just drips with understated bad attitude until the climax, when Murphy lets loose with crazed shrieks of "Jeezess! Jeeeezzesss!"  A coworker of mine introduced me to Bauhaus by playing this song for me back in the 90s. I didn't really care for goth stuff at the time, but I loved this, and I searched in vain for a copy of of it until a couple of years ago when I found my copy of  Weniger is Mehr. If you're a Bauhaus fan, I'd call this record an essential supplement to their regular albums.  But if you're not a fan, well, this record might be a good way to become one.

Check out "Spirit in the Sky."

Total songs listened: 351

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