Bauhaus

I’ve been having a jolly good musical nostalia wallow for the past month or so, having finally acquired the entire Bauhaus collection on compact disc. I remember when the stuff first came out on vinyl, way back in the day, that it was a real obsessive chore to get your hands on all the singles and b-sides and whatnots. Not so these days: they’ve put most of the non-LP releases on the CD’s as bonus tracks. Which was nice when it came to buying them, but I guess on the other hand it means all those old, hard-to-find vinyl singles I’ve been hoarding aren’t as valuable as I thought they might be.

Bauhaus’ debut album, In the Flat Field, (not my favorite at the time, mind you) becomes unspeakably good with the addition of all the key early singles except for “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” “Dark Entries,” “Crowds,” “Rosegarden Funeral of Sores” and “Terror Couple Kill Colonel” are some of the best things they ever recorded. Mask has probably fallen a little bit in my estimation, rehearing it all these years later. “Passion of Lovers” and “Kick in the Eye” remain exceptional and strong, but some of the other tracks seem thin to me now. The Sky’s Gone Out was (and remains) my favorite, one of the most intense, evocative records ever made. Nice to have “Ziggy Stardust” and the single version of “Spirit” tacked onto the end (among other things). Burning from the Inside, on the other hand, remains their weakest point, an obviously transitional disc as Daniel Ash and David J attempted to step out from behind Peter Murphy’s shadow. I love “Antonin Artaud” and “King Volcano” and “Slice of Life,” but I can pretty much let the rest of the album go. “She’s in Parties,” while one of their more popular tunes, has always been kinda boring to me: it seemed they’d really started to act like the hashed-out goths who were inspired by them by that point, instead of chanelling Iggy Pop and David Bowie and T. Rex through a heroin-fueled after-punk filter as they’d done on the earlier discs.

I also got the DVD of the reunion tour, called Gotham, and was very impressed at how well they pulled off the material 15 years after ending their work together. It kind of proved that the whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts in Bauhaus: while I love Tones on Tail, really like Love and Rockets, enjoy David J’s solo discs, and am lukewarm toward Daniel Ash and Peter Murphy’s solos, when they all get together, big sparks, man, hair-raising stuff.

And to all you smug teenaged goth-lite types smirking at someone my age enjoying stuff like this: I was playing it and getting weird looks from my friends when it really meant something to listen to stuff like this back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. I can remember people being particularly offended when I played “The Sky’s Gone Out,” which was a strikingly dark and dismal and despairing record for its day, when the radio was filled with the classics of early ’80s synth pop and cheery post-New Wave pap. Bauhaus was scary then, and it felt truly menacing to listen to them alone in a dark room, late at night when the haints and boogers came out to play.

Fall Back

It was “fall back” weekend a coupla days ago, seguing us into my least favorite time of the year: the point between “fall back” and the winter solstice, when the days are getting shorter and it’s dark as soon as (or before) you get home from work. After December 21, even though the winter has lots of horrors yet to heap upon us, at least you know that you’re picking up an extra few minutes of sunlight each day. Of course, this has far less bearing on me here than it did when I worked at a government facility in Schenectady in what was essentially an underground office: during the day, if we wanted to see the sun, we had to walk out of our office into a main hallway and look up through the skylights. That was definitely the land of potted mushrooms stewing away in darkness, getting paler and fatter as the days got shorter and colder. Personally, I’m all in favor of any movement that puts us on Daylight Savings Time and leaves us there all year.

Boogeyman

The lion’s share of what I’ve put out in the public domain about myself has to do with music criticism or music commentary. I’ve been writing for Metroland since 1995, and worked on Time Warner’s Sounding Board until it went on (permanent?) hiatus a year or so ago. I liked doing both of those things, because they kept me involved in music and connected with musicians in ways that were more managable than actually making music myself. (I’m not miserable enough to do that anymore).

But since I took over as Director of the Chapel + Cultural Center at Rensselaer a year ago, I’ve found that my desire to review concerts or records or interview rock personages has atrophied to what I once would have considered a scary degree. But I think that’s a good thing, because those night jobs were always mostly about having something good to do to offset less-than-satisfying day jobs. And I like this current job, very much indeed.

I think the key to why this job works so well for me is that I’m still involved with music and musicians in an even more tangible way: by giving them a space to do their thing, and hunting them down and signing them up to do.

My public “reach” is but a fraction of what I had five years ago: on a good night, attendance wise, at the Chapel I probably reach 1/1,000th of the people who read my articles in Metroland, and an even smaller fraction of the people who watched Sounding Board.

But there’s a special tangible satisfaction to making a show happen, and making sure that the performers are well taken care of, and leave feeling reasonably good about their performances. It’s more real, somehow, than flinging words at them that they might, theoretically, use in a press kit that will most likely end up in some interns’ trash can at some other alternative newsweekly in some other city somewhere far from home.

Maybe that’s rationalization, but I know I’m sleeping better than I have in ages, and I like getting up in the morning and going to work. And I’m a pretty lowest common denominator guy about stuff like that: this must be the right thing to be doing if it feels so satisfying.

Unrelated note:

After a show last night at the Chapel, I went to Denny’s with Jed Davis, Bryan Thomas, Mario Sevayega and assorted friends for late night greasy food and sweets. It was collectively decided that “Boogeyman” is a great band name waiting for a band to claim it . . . . “Boogeyman: The Band That Lives in Your Closet.” Their breakthrough album: “Boogeyman Live at Budokan.” Etc. Get cracking, up and coming young rocksters!

Take three . . .

Or is this take four?

I remain fascinated by the concept of blogs. I have tried three (or four?) times to make one work, but each time have petered out pretty quickly after getting started on it.

Had I kept it up since 2000 when I first started, I coulda been a trendy old school blogger by now. More fool me.

Part of the problem I’ve always had was the time it took to do it, since I was just coding things into HTML and posting them as part of my overall website without any sort of WYSIWYG software assistance.

So now I’m gonna try Blogger and see if that helps me get my stuff up here for longer stretches of time than my usual one-month-and-out rate over the past three (or four) years.

Just in case I fail, I’ve gone back and pulled the better stuff from the prior incarnations of the blog and posted them with semi-fraudult back dates. No, I didn’t post them to Blogger on those dates, but yes, I did write them then, and they were on my website then. So don’t niggle and nit pick, thanks.

Don’t hold your breath about this, but let’s see if I can’t make this thing work this time . . .