At the beginning of the 80s the goth movement was just starting. At the forefront was a certain band called Bauhaus. Now the thing about Bauhaus is that they never took themselves to seriously, despite their overtly dark and sinister image. Would you take a band seriously who sang the lyrics ‘those Indians wank on his bones’?. I think not. It still makes me smile when I hear people complaining about goths being mopey old so-and- so’s obsessed with sacrificing chickens called Stanley, where here we have the grand daddies of goth singing such ridiculous lyrics, just before they break into a song based around a sea shanty.
So what is it that makes Bauhaus so timeless? As relevant and as influential now as they were when they first started.
Swing The Heartache is a collection of songs recorded in five sessions at the Maida Vale BBC studios that manages to just about capture what Bauhaus were about. While most bands take the opportunity of a BBC session to go and promote there latest single, Bauhaus decided to go off and explore. For you may not care to have the fear of God instilled in you when you're sat down at super time trying to eat your crumpets but one can't help ending up just a little unnerved. Communication between the listener and the band is never broached, more a sense of intimidation that immediately demands you take an interest, and you run the risk off forgetting that these four men dressed in smart black suits were doing this for a laugh. In fact that is my most vivid memory of Bauhaus: listening to them as a teenager and being scared shitless by four skinny guys in suits.
How many bands can cover Ziggy Stardust and just about make it better than the original I ask? Classic tracks like She’s In Parties are played with a renewed edge and bite as explosive drums and guitars make walls of noise from within jagged vocals probe your very being, making you scared, making you (occasionally) smile, never relying on the conventional means of attack. That is what makes Bauhaus so special: they have been copied countless times but like a vintage red wine that gets better with age you can still tell the original apart from the rest.
It's dark, it's just a little bit scary, but the original boys in black, the grand daddies of goth, provide us with a fitting insight into the legacy that was Bauhaus.