SYNOPSIS: Courtney once sang “What was she for Halloween?/The ugliest girl you’ve ever seen…” Maybe this year we’ll go as that, since we heart Miss Love. So far our best one yet as in 1999, when your Uncle LD went as would-be presidential assassin Sam Byck, Yoo-hoo bottle (filled with scotch) and all. We didn’t get much candy, but we sure got loaded. And eventually we got home safe. Alone, of course. Because who wants to bunk down with some fat, hairy drunk in a bedraggled red polyester velour Santa suit? Oh, forget we asked!
What with that new four-CD Rhino goth box out (note to self: Why isn’t there one on our desk?), we thought we’d share a bit of the old creepy good fun that they left out… stuff other than that by not-really-goth bands like Joy Division or Flesh for Lulu or Gene Courtneys Jezabel, and songs more interesting than those by semi- and demi-goths like Cure and their ilk, or the utterly obvious choices (and you already know who these guys are if you’re over 30 and/or care at all about this kinda stuff at all). Excellent for beginners, but probably redundant for everyone else. Bitch Bitch Bitch…
We could go on screaming, but why bother—we have dolls to decapitate and hair to dye. And being the pedant that your Uncle LD sure is, we thought a little protogoth tunage would be amusingly a propos, so here goes: Dress your sweet self in noir (preferably something period and velvet or brocade, about which more later) and think about how special and alone and haunted and alone and sexy and pale and alone and doomed and alone and beautiful you are…
NEXT WEEK: Oh My Goth! The Second Coming with special guest Jon DeRosa.
Intro: “Bela Lugosi is Dead” by Bauhaus, from PRESS EJECT AND GIVE ME THE TAPE (Beggars UK, 1982) So we couldn’t resist teasing you, dear listener, with a little bit of this live version of the song that arguably started it all… Actually, we prefer this to the slightly tame, hard to find studio version; also, this take was used in THE HUNGER which of course is godlike in its stylish 80s portrayal of lust, greed for power, supernatural ambisexual panic (justifiable in this case) and technophobia—all of which are major tropes of gothitude, along with torture, vampirism and general horror, suicide and murder, despair, blasphemy, and and and…
“Buried Dreams” by Clock DVA, from BURIED DREAMS (Wax Trax! Records, 1989) This band always tended more towards industrial than goth, though the disturbingly atmospheric BURIED DREAMS is more truly sinister, creepy, and sexy than their other records, which were mostly about urban anomie and such. This song’s about a really sick queen and her dastardly deeds involving virgins, blood, etc.
“Shining Road” by Cranes, from EP COLLECTION (Dedicated, 1997) Sinister little-girl voices and girlie imagery are very much a part of gothdom. Most people hated Alison’s voice, which was very very disturbing indeed at times. But since we love Altered Images so much (we wanted to include their “Dead Pop Stars” in the set, but couldn’t find the CD), it was never a problem for us. And who doesn’t love grinding strings, distorted guitars, and enough reverb to sink a phantom ship? Oh, forget we asked.
“Dreary, Dreary” by the Gothic Archies, from THE TRAGIC TREASURY: SONGS FROM A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS (Nonesuch, 2006) We present friend Stephin crooning about a girl in brocade, who is gone gone gone, never to play croquet again. What a terrific album this is—and definitely a new fave, right up there with TMF’s blissful HOLIDAY album. And of course Daniel’s/Lemony’s books are so so so fab. Read ’em and weep. And giggle. And learn.
“Inquisition” by Skinny Puppy, from SKINNY PUPPY: THE SINGLES COLLECT (Nettwork, 1999) Not-really-goth band Joy Division performed a couple early gigs as Stiff Kitten. Not-at all-goth guy Sufjan Stevens has a label called Asthmatic Kitty. REM sang about a two-headed cow. And there was that grunge record cover that featured a three-legged doggie… Should we call the ASPCA on the lot of them? Nah, then we’d miss all the fun.
“Religious As Hell” by March Violets, from GOTH BOX (Cleopatra, 1996) He was bearded and cute in a cartoonishly nasty trucker way, she was a space alien: fun for the whole family! This mildy naughty song was some fun to play loud in the car on Sunday afternoons, a harmless bit of Baptist-baiting way down south in Dixie where we lived when this was first released.
“Wreck on the Highway” by the Louvin Brothers, from WHEN I STOP DREAMING (Razor & Tie, 1995) Goth hadn’t been invented yet, but these true believers (one of whom was a big, mean drunk) had a string of hits about death, torture, grievous sin, and damnation in the 1940s and 50s. How wonderful of these brothers, along with Hank Williams and other deeply troubled souls, to keep sex and death in the gutter—and the pop charts—where they belong! Look for the Louv’s phantastic concept album SATAN IS REAL and maybe you can join us someday in a little sing-along of “Satan’s Jeweled Crown.” This song really also prefigures John Foxx’s “Burning Car” and the Normal’s Ballardian “Warm Leatherette by a few decades, too.
“King of Trash” by Gavin Friday, from ADAM ‘N’ EVE (Polygram, 1992) One of the singers from Virgin Prunes (whose drummer was a sex-change, though from what to what was never actually clear), Mr Friday’s solo debut is lush, tuneful, glammy, and dark as that proverbial pitch. It’s even got a song about Divine. How sick is that?
“Crimson and Clover” by Joan Jett, from I LOVE ROCK & ROLL (Blackheart, 1981) Uncle Tommy James’ version was a triumph of tremolo, but Uncle Joan’s version is even more amazing for its slow-as-congealing blood tempo, and teaisng girl-on-girl subtext . . . right on time for the gender-bending 80s, baby. When we were in middle school (sometime back in the Dark Ages), we used to scream along with the backing vocals at the top of our lungs. Even then we had issues with rock guitars (about which more below), of course, but somehow this was okay even to our discerning, aka snobbish, young ears.
“Love Life” by Rubella Ballet, from RUBELLA BALLET’S GREATEST HITS (Ubiquitous, 1990) Like they ever had any! Also not really goth, but they were such darn day-glo freaks when everyone else wore black that we just adored them. It’s like the only two bands these kids knew were the Crystals and the Sex Pistols. Which is not so bad, actually. And clearly they had a great sense of humor: “Love is so goddamned painful/There are so many boring guitars.” Read more about them here.
“Final Solution” by Peter Murphy, from WILD BIRDS (Beggars banquet USA, 1995) Grief, grief beyond imagining from ex-Bauhaus madman, scoring a dance-club hit with his assaulting cover of a Pere Ubu song. Note: The iconic Mr Murphy also appears below in a song by gentleman author/troubadour John Wesley Harding, aka Wesley Stace. Is that meta enough for ya’ll?
“16 Days” by Modern English, from, MESH & LACE (4AD, 1981) This and ME’s great “Gathering Dust” were later covered to great effect on the epochal IT’LL END IN TEARS by This Mortal Coil . . . but you knew that already, didn’t you, Miss Smartypants? Very pretty it was, but the original version makes us feel just a little bit antisocial.
“Aloha from Hell” by the Cramps, from A DATE WITH ELVIS (Big Beat, 1985) For our friend Holly, who loves gothabilly!
“Dazzle” (Glamour Mix) by Siouxsie & the Banshees, from THE BEST OF SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES (Interscope, 2002) We love the string-swamped original from HYAENA, but this gorgeous remix (complete with “skips” and fake lock-grooves and bonus beats and all that sort of black magic) always sends us running for the mascara. And with that gruesome image in mind, we leave you til next week.