David J : Etiquette of Violence – Expanded Edition 2 x CD
Daniel Ash : Anthology 3 x CDs
All on Cherry Red
Former Bauhaus frontman, bassist and guitar player have a selection of their albums reissued. For Louder Than War, Ged Babey reassesses them all.
Bauhaus were of course, better than Joy Division (this has been discussed before…) Bauhaus of course invented Goth (snore.. zzzzz, they didn’t mean to…)
Bauhaus were one of the greatest bands of the 80s full stop.
So what they did afterwards is a sprawling catalogue of albums under various names, Tones On Tail, Dali’s Car, Love & Rockets … as well, of course, as solo albums.
These three re-issued, repackaged, double CD albums are a great place to start if you want to check out the post-Bauhaus treasure trove, and all are hugely different.
Murphys is slick, electronic and moderne 80s pop noir, whereas Js is lo-fidelity, art-school whimsy with guitar, cheap drum-machine, saxophone and poetry. Ashs are from the nineties and are MTV Alternative Rock Downer Glam following his having some success with Love & Rockets.
Pete references Greek mythology, David the Beat poets and Daniel sings about heartbreak and a girl in a leather catsuit.
Love Hysteria must’ve been a commercial proposition at the time with its New Order style dance floor remixes and nods to Bowie circa both Scarey Monsters and Let’s Dance, only with a bit of added gothic mysticism. Bamboo-y xylophone sounds and ommm-ing synths make it a relatively chilled out album with baffling and sometimes nonsensical lyrics about Doves and psychology.
David Jays lyrical themes on Etiquette of Violence are more sleazy and narcotic, although his collaboration with the great Alan Moore (V for Vendetta, Watchmen) is a completely bizarre and out to lunch project called the Sinister Ducks.
The liner notes mention J being referred to as “the John Cale of Bauhaus” which is pretty accurate, although Reed and Syd Barrett do come to mind at times too. A song about an actress and torturer, Saint Jackie is a highlight evoking the same imagery and tight-leather feel of Fetish-era Antz.
There’s plenty of smokey saxa-ma-phone and spooky noises bleeding through from re-used, semi-erased tape and a varied collection of song sketches including Joe Ortons Wedding and a whole disc of lost demo’s dating back to 1979.
J played the album to the rest of Bauhaus back in the 80s and they concluded, unimpressedly ” Yeah, its Number one David, on Mars”. Which is actually quite a cool appraisal
I was looking forward to the Daniel Ash anthology but of the three, I have to say it was the least interesting and enjoyable. It’s very American, middle-of-the-road Alternative Rock designed to be accompanied by glossy pseudo arty videos of bored looking woman in tight clothing. Bits sound like a hi-gloss Jesus and Mary Chain and one track goes for a distinctly Primal Screams Loaded feel. Just occasionally there are echoes of his amazing guitar-sounds and playing of old, but for the most part it/s glam riffs on autopilot. The number of (pretty lame) cover versions should have been a warning sign.
So it’s David Js which comes out on top as the most interesting and inventive, Peters for pure pompous 80s pop fun and Dans for sunglasses after dark MTV rock ‘n’ roll – but to be frank, they were all at their peak when united in the same band…
All words Ged Babey, read his Louder Than War archive here