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Friday, December 20, 2013

Bauhaus: Press The Eject And Give Me The Tape


1) In The Flat Field; 2) Rose Garden Funeral Of Sores; 3) Dancing; 4) The Man With The X-Ray Eyes; 5) Bela Lu­gosi's Dead; 6) The Spy In The Cab; 7) Kick In The Eye; 8) In Fear Of Fear; 9) Hollow Hills; 10) Stigmata Martyr; 11) Dark Entries; 12) Terror Couple Kill Colonel*; 13) Double Dare*; 14*) In The Flat Field; 15*) Hair Of The Dog; 16*) Of Lillies And Remains; 17*) Waiting For The Man.

Visually, Bauhaus live were not vastly different from any other punk / post-punk act of the era — their act was much less theatrical than the music would suggest — but in terms of sound, it was primarily on the stage that they played out their «goth rock» reputation in earnest. The setlist con­centrates on the darkest songs in the catalog, and the towering centerpiece is ʽBela Lugosi's Deadʼ, longer, grander, and weightier than anything else on here — nine minutes of grave macabrity that Alice Cooper would probably have rejected for being too pretentious and humorless, but for Bauhaus, it is their life, as Murphy gets to get so heavily into character and Ash gets to scatter round his entire bag of guitar tricks, imitating every single variation of a bat wing flap on his in­strument and feeling quite at home.

On the whole, the live Bauhaus experience has little reason to be experienced outside an actual theater — the songs are not significantly modified from their studio bases, usually retaining the structures, the tempos, and the general dynamics. But yes, if you need to hear it from me, both Murphy and Ash do behave more wildly on stage: Murphy becomes a bit more of a screamer, and Ash allows himself to fool around with even more feedback effects. So if you decide that songs like ʽStigmata Martyrʼ rock harder and blow up more nerve cells here than in the studio version, I am not going to argue — I just happen to find the difference sort of negligible, and even more negligible on the short dance-oriented stuff from Mask, such as ʽDancingʼ or ʽIn Fear Of Fearʼ, where I was almost afraid at once that they'd simply put some audience noises over studio takes (well, you can't blame me for not memorizing every studio nuance of those tracks).

Technical notes: most of these songs were recorded in October 1981 and February 1982 in Lon­don and Liverpool, so there is predictably nothing included from The Sky's Gone Out; and, in fact, the live album itself was originally released as a bonus addition to Sky, only later gai­n­ing the status of an «autonomous» LP — initiating a rather strange tradition which eventually resul­ted in Bauhaus having as many live albums out as they have studio ones. Furthermore, the CD re-release added a bunch of extra tracks recorded at a December 1981 show in Paris, with ʽDouble Dareʼ as a particular highlight for those who love the Murphy scream, but the tracks also have significantly poorer sound quality. The most curious, and the least professionally recorded, inc­lusion is that of a Manchester performance where they join forces with Nico on a delightfully (atrociously?) chaotic rendition of the VU's ʽWaiting For The Manʼ.

On the whole, I would probably recommend skipping this, but apparently, the Old Vic London show from 1982 had also been videotaped, so this is a good bet to check out the young Murphy in his prime, belly-dancing and all, while Ash and his supercool mohawk are weaving guitar rings around him (really piss-poor lighting job, though, based on the bits I have seen). But as for me, I do not care much for that early 1980s visual stylistics anyway, and for those who think that Bau­haus are better heard than seen, Press The Eject will not be of much use.

Check "Press The Eject And Give Me The Tape" (CD) on Amazon
Check "Press The Eject And Give Me The Tape" (MP3) on Amazon

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