Arthouse, post punk, proto Goth, Alternative rock whatever you want to call them Northampton’s Bauhaus sent a shockwave around the world with their look and sense of drama, both visually and sonically. Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins (AKA Kevin Dompe) went on to form Love and Rockets who added some pop sensibilities in and found success especially in the US where teens were falling in love with edgy UK new wave and post punk. The bridging band Tones on Tail may not be as well known by many. This was a two piece comprising of Daniel Ash and Bauhaus roadie Glenn Campling and was a side project during their time treading the boards with Peter Murphy et al. Tones on Tail released one album after the demise of Bauhaus which led to Haskins joining the band. Fast forward some 25 years and Love and Rockets career and a Bauhaus reunion and Ash and Haskins have decided they want to play live again. To gear up for this and I suppose a coat hook to hang the tour on they have a recorded a live in the studio album of Tones on Tail/ Love and Rockets tracks now featuring Haskins daughter Diva Dompe’ now on bass. For the avid Ash/Haskins fan this constitutes interesting and fuzzed up takes on well-known tracks . For the less initiated amongst us – myself included this offers an intro to two bands that I am not that familiar with and gives a real flavour of what can be expected live – plus the obligatory Bauhaus track ‘Slice Of Life’ that the trio also perform.
There are a couple of covers here that the parent acts had released before in various formats. Heartbreak Hotel which opens up the album is a tremolo soaked bassy Jesus and Mary Chain take on the Elvis classic. Love and Rockets first real “hit” was a cover of the Temptations “Ball of Confusion” so it is only right that Poptone give it a facelift. It is a mix of 80’s funk pop and over produced Alien Sex Fiend that sounds forced and really dated. Ash’s vocals sound very karaoke.
“This is the pops” is a delightful slice of early 80’s dark pop with Diva’s bassline twisting through Ash’s overdriven guitarline . The father/daughter rhythm section is as tight as you would hope it to be. “Mirror People” is a tribal boogie that gets feet tapping. “Go!” is the track that many will instantly recognise. Its infectious buzzsaw bassline, rampant use of cowbell and beautifully simplistic vocal of “ya ya ya ya ya Go!” has featured in everything from Grosse Pointe Blank and Beverly Hills 90210 to Stanger Things. Moby also sampled it for his track of the same name. The Poptone version is a little starker and less hopeful. There seems more menace in it and a hell of a lot more fuzz. Still plenty of cowbell and synth though.
This album is a labour of love threefold. Love of the songs that Ash and Haskins have created, the love of playing live that has brought them back into the studio and the love between the three.
If you love your pop dark and fuzzy this will be right up your street. A great advert for the tour.
(7/10 Matt Mason)