Bauhaus - In The Flat Field
Whatever one may say about the sartorial side or etymological roots of the Goths, Bauhaus did Goth better than anyone else. The Cure may have achieved more fame, but they weren't really that Goth. And the bands who followed in the mid-seventies, such as the Sisters of Mercy and the Cult, well they didn't do Bauhaus half as well as Bauhaus. The Goth of Bauhaus was a mixture of punk rock and glam with a fair degree of parody mixed in. It was with their first album, In the Flat Field, that Bauhaus and Goth reached its peak, something no one else could attain thereafter.
The glam and punk roots are obvious right from the start. On this extended CD, as if to emphasise the importance of the latter, a smart version of T. Rex's "Telegram Sam" is included, presaging their later superbly camp re-working of Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust". But self-parody I hear you query? Surely not self-parody in Goths? Well, you would be wrong to doubt. For a start, take that version of "Telegram Sam". Murphy slows down the vocals so much that you can actually hear the words, perhaps for the first time in many cases. And how ridiculous were Bolan's lyrics! But there is more:
"They came from next door"
Oh how that went down a scream! It is a trait which some of the more self-absorbed Goths of later years would have done well to emulate. It never does well to take yourself too seriously.
This album is a combination of so many different emotions and sensations it is hard to describe. At times it is harrowing, with Daniel Ash's screaming guitars and Peter Murphy's equally screaming voice. The album moves quickly from the frenetic pace of "Double Dare" to the stark and minimal "Spy in the Cab" (how many of us remember the furore that the tachyometer's introduction caused, I wonder?). Then there are the digs at religious fervour in "God in an Alcove" and "Stigmata Martyr", where Murphy's screaming in Latin of the prayer to the Trinity reaches fever pitch. You could almost imagine this being a favourite of Tomas de Torquemada. And in case you were wondering where is the misery, well the cover of John Cale's ""Rosegarden Funeral of Sores" is as depressing as the track's title would suggest.
However, it is with the opening track, "Dark Entries" that the album defines itself. Brooding yet fast-paced, this is the epitome of what Bauhaus were about. I am not sure why for this release the band put this as the opener, but if it was intended to make a statement then it does. It cleverly wraps the original album in a blanket of extra tracks. Most notable, apart from the opener, are the two versions of "Terror Couple Kill Colonel" (derived I think from a headline in the Sun newspaper in the seventies). The remix irons out, through careful vocal distortion, the bathos of the original, which was always a favourite of mine anyway.
Much as Bauhaus laid the foundations of Goth, their later releases veered away from the genre they had done so much to create. Their record company was not, it seemed, over-enamoured of their narrow appeal and wanted them to branch out. If all you have ever heard of Bauhaus is "Bela Lugosi's Dead" and some of their later singles and wonder what went in between, you could do no better than check this out.
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on 2011-09-08 SolitaryMan Said:
This album heavily influenced me to delve further into the 80's goth and post-punk sounds. Bauhaus were a very influential collective for their time, and to this day continue to inspire many bands with their ahead-of-their-time sound.
on 2011-02-21 CharlesMartel Said:
Great album from Bauhaus, one of those which set the tone for indie music in the eighties. A lot of bands owe a huge debt to Bauhaus