Bauhaus are one of England’s greatest gothic rock bands who first formed in 1978 in Northampton, England. Their line-up is Daniel Ash on guitar, Peter Murphy on vocals, Kevin Haskins on drums and bassist David J. When they first formed, they were called Bauhaus 1919, but dropped the 1919 part after a year together. They are one of the pioneers of the gothic rock genre due to their dark sounding music and imagery. They broke up in 1983 and stayed apart for many years until 1998 when they got back together for a twentieth anniversary reunion tour. They then properly reformed again in 2005, split up in 2008 and then reformed again in 2019.
Although Bauhaus’s initial time together was very short lived, they have nevertheless been highly influential on a wide range of artists, particularly those who identify within the large scope that is gothic music. Here is a list of the ten best songs from that impactful career…
# 10 – Dark Entries
First on the list is a track from the band’s debut album In the Flat Field released in 1980, which is considered to be one of the first gothic rock records. Because of the very clear vision that the band had for their sound, they decided to produce the album themselves. Despite actually gaining a negative critical reception, the album topped the UK independent charts and reached number seventy-two in the mainstream charts.
# 9 – All We Ever Wanted was Everything
This track is from the band’s third album The Skys Gone Out released in 1982. This is one of the slower and more tender songs in their catalog that they are not generally known for. The song is one of the less-gothic sounding Bauhaus songs, almost having more of a folk sound to it, with it being an acoustic number. The tone of the song is rather sad in nature, with the lyrics talking about things missed during childhood.
# 8 – Crowds
Here is a piano-led track from In the Flat Field that also shows another side to the band, with it being very melancholy and downbeat. Although it has become a lot more appreciated retrospectively, the album was, as previously stated, heavily slated critically when it was first released. The New Musical Express described it as “nine meaningless moans” and journalist Andy Gill (not of Gang of Four) mockingly referred to them as a “hip Black Sabbath.”
# 7 – Kick in the Eye
This song was released in 1981 as the second and final single from the band’s second album Mask. It released a year later as the ep Kick in the Eye (Searching for Satori ep). When it was released, it reached number fifty-nine whereas the ep reached the higher position of number forty-five. The song shows quite a vast progression in the band’s sound from the previous record, having an almost Bowie-esque vibe to it.
# 6 – Silent Hedges
This next track is a very eerie number from The Skys Gone Out. The song is very atmospheric and has a particularly unique guitar sound. It is unclear what exactly the silent Hedges are, but it seems to be horror-inspired. When listening to it, the very scary hedge scene in Stephen King’s novel The Shining springs to mind (not the Stanley Kubrick movie adaptation). Whatever the case, it is a great early 80’s goth track.
# 5 – Rose Garden Funeral of Sores
This track is a cover of former Velvet Underground guitarist John Cale, the original of which was released in 1979. It was actually released as the B side to another cover that they did of T Rex’s “Telegram Sam.” Despite this, this is the better of the two covers, as it is more interesting musically and suits the band’s sound more, with the T Rex cover coming off as more a novelty cover rather than a serious one.
# 4 – Who Killed Mr Moonlight?
This track is from the group’s fourth album Burning From the Inside released in 1983. During the recording process of the album, singer Peter Murphy was very ill, which meant that he was largely absent from putting the album together. It also meant that much of the album’s vocals were performed by bassist David J and guitarist Daniel Ash, of which this track is one with the vocals here being sung by J.
# 3 – Stigmata Martyr
Here is another one from Flat Field that is defined by a very powerful bass line from J. It is the penultimate track on the record and one of its highlights. It is a track that could definitely be classed as proto-industrial as it has a very throbbing rhythm to it and is reminiscent of the kind of thing that bands such as Ministry would be doing within a few years. The title itself is even similar to that of a Ministry song.
# 2 – The Passion of Lovers
Just off the top spot is the band’s sixth single that was included on Mask and reached number fifty-six on the Uk Singles Chart. The “B Side” of the single was bizarre mashup of recordings that all of the band members had recorded individually, the fourth part recorded by Ash containing backwards masking techniques that he would later make much use of with his side project which was called Tones on Trial.
# 1 – Bela Lugosi’s Dead
Of course, here at the top spot we have the track that many consider to be the signature song from the band. It was the band’s debut single released in 1979 and many argue that it is the first gothic rock record. At over nine minutes long, this goth classic still sounds just as eerie today as it did upon its release. Written as a tribute to the movie star who was best known for playing Dracula (who actually died twenty-three years previously), it is always a great one to spin when Halloween is approaching! It has left a long-lasting legacy as an all-time genre classic.