Saturday, October 20, 2012
Title: 1979-1983 Volume One
Label: Beggars Banquet
Hi everyone, and welcome to the first review from the new and less restricted 30,000 songs. Now that I'm not trying to do everything in alphabetical order anymore, I can make choices like this one, which I selected not only in keeping with rainy blustery weather and the approach of Halloween, but also in honor of Bela Lugosi. Lugosi, best known for playing the role of Dracula in the classic Universal Studios film of the same title, was the subject of Bauhaus's best known song "Bela Lugosi's Dead." Lugosi would be 130 years old today.
I love listening to Bauhaus this time of year. Without retreading too much of the same territory from review #30, I'll just mention here that Bauhaus are considered by many to be the first goth band. This cd spans the first four years of the band's singles, and you can hear the progression here from what was essentially a dark and strange take on the punk sound to something that has evolved into an independent genre (albeit one with punk roots still clearly evident). Throughout, Bauhaus sounds dark and ominous. Their musical approach to this is an interesting one. Drummer Kevin Haskin's lays down rhythms that sometimes border on tribal, relying heavily on his toms to keep time rather than ride or high-hat cymbals a typical rock drummer would use. The song structure of most tracks is held together primarily by bassist David J., who's style is often minimalist and droning in a way that provides an ominous feel to the songs. Guitarist Daniel Ash, meanwhile, lays down guitar tracks that, in many cases, primarily add an eerie texture created through high-pitched, echoey noises that you might think were improvised, if they didn't sound so perfect. Only on a few occasions on this disc does he play what one would consider a chord progression. Peter Murphy rounds out the sound with nasal, almost shrieking vocals. The overall sound is bleak and cold, and fits well with their generally creepy lyrics.
What are the songs about? Much of the time, it's hard to say but I think the short answer is "nothing nice." Death, strange sex, alienation. As I mentioned before, their best known song is "Bela Lugosi's Dead," a tribute to Lugosi that describes his funeral as if he were an actual vampire, an undead being who would probably rise again to continue his lonely existence. That might sound silly, but it's actually a great song in my opinion. My favorite, however, is "The Passion of Lovers." The lyrics of this song paint a surreal picture of tragic woman. The Internet tells me the song was inspired by the true story a couple that killed themselves, although I have no idea if that's actually true. I just know the chorus gets stuck in my head for days.
On that happy note, merry Lugosi Day. More spooky-type music reviews coming soon!
Here's "The Passion of Lovers" if you want to check that out, and here's "Bela Lugosi's Dead."
Also, in case I depressed you with my review of this record, here's a fun video about Bela Lugosi's birthday.
Total songs listened: 871