The truth of the matter is Bauhaus scratch a very particular itch for me, one I don’t get very often. I picked up Crackle, their 1998 compilation back when it first came out and I was diving into different music, looking for something different. At the time it was enough to satiate me when I was in the mood for dark and sullen punk, when Joy Division and Siouxsie & the Banshees weren’t cutting it. Nowadays I’m more apt to stream one of the actual albums, but as a timepiece of their time here on this muddy confusing planet, it does a great job showing what made the band so vital.
My first real exposure to the band came via a four-disc compilation called The Black Bible (we’ll get to it in a few months – I have a LOT of “B” albums to get through) that features a lot of crazy goth-flavored bands: it opened with “In the Flat Fields” – still one of the best songs to come from the band. It doesn’t open Crackle (that honor goes to the evil menace of “Double Dare”) but it’s hard to ignore the way the song potently wrangles Peter Murphy’s vocals and the rest of the band’s exquisite command of tone…it’s really a perfect introduction to the band. But what makes Crackle really work as a blueprint for Bauhaus as a whole is the mix of styles evident throughout their career. Whether it’s the more forward goth pop of “The Sanity Assassin” or the ubiquitous “Bela Legosi’s Dead” – here represented by an unsanctioned remix – it’s amazing how the band could incorporate so many styles and still make it sound cohesive to their bleak aesthetic. Even the cover of Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” falls under their spell.
What else is there to say? I can talk about the darkness and the art, but really that’s been done to death and what I don’t see a lot of when it comes to Bauhaus writing is how adept they are musically at incorporating a multitude of styles. So do yourself a favor and pick something up and listen…really listen…and find those moments that make you jump up in surprise.
Those are the best moments in music, my friend.