MONDAY, JULY 20, 2015
WEEK 29: GOTH
By 1978 punk was already spinning into amphetamine stoked freefall. When the crash finally came, the lost children of the revolution were left desperately searching for some meaning amongst the ruins. New trends came and went with alarming regularity, but those seeking the essence of their original inspiration were left with no place to go but the puritanical anarcho Crass collective; a stark, sexless ideology permeated by the unmistakable whiff of hippie.
Inspired by the first incarnation of Adam And The Ants, the dark side developed as the antithesis to those bleak values. Then, as Adam turned to new pop and storybook imagery, his adoring disciples defected to Bauhaus, their debut ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ regarded as goth ground zero. And they weren’t alone, Siouxsie And The Banshees, The Birthday Party, Killing Joke and Theatre Of Hate also promising a flight from the mundane, crushing boredom of everyday life into a common wildness of ritual and ceremony, magic and mystery.
Night after night, show after show, fans began to cling onto these individual groups and follow them around the country. The Futurama festivals of the early eighties became a gathering place for the emerging tribe, but the real crucible of the early scene was The Batcave where on any given night you could rub shoulders with Marc Almond, Robert Smith, Steve Severin or Nick Cave. Grinding against the predominately black influences of post punk, Batcave flyers vowed ‘Absolutely No Funk’, its soundtrack dominated by a heady mix of classic glam, rockabilly and dark cabaret.
The decisive moment for goths emergence came during the winter of 1982/83 when the New Musical Express proclaimed the arrival of ‘positive punk’. Goth in all but name, it was a cynical attempt to forge a new scene by tying together rising groups like the Virgin Prunes, Danse Society, UK Decay, Sex Gang Children and Brigandage. The frighteningly hip Southern Death Cult resonated the most with the disenchanted young although they would only become a credible musical force midway through 1983 when Ian Astbury teamed up with Theatre Of Hate’s Billy Duffy as The Cult. By then goth was legion, the Sisters Of Mercy’s ‘Temple Of Love’ indicative of the new sense of abandon and guaranteed to get the chicken dancers on the floor.
Musically early goth tended to share the post punk mindset of the Banshees where rock’n’roll was something to be discarded. The Sisters changed all that by remaining defiantly rockist whilst retaining an aura of adventure and quest, Andrew Eldrich admiring then embracing vintage rock’s absurdity and relentlessness. The result was an ultra stylised approach of sunglasses after dark and speed emaciated bodies shrouded in black, ex-Sister Wayne Hussey’s Mission and Fields Of The Nephilim, the last of the truly big goth groups, pushing Eldrich’s concept to the edge of cliché.
Naturally, outsiders always ridiculed goth and continue to do so, unable to get past the kitsch horror leanings, death obsession and funereal clothing. Maybe in the end it did all get a little silly and distorted but every music genre through history has always followed the same course. Punk, glam, psychedelia, even rock’n’roll itself, all failed to retain the purity of their formative years. Yet their influence remains, forming the building blocks for all that passes for rock today. With its ability to attract the disillusioned hordes still very much intact, goth is as vital a part of that as anything.
01 BAUHAUS ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ (A Side August 1979)
02 KILLING JOKE ‘Wardance’ (A Side March 1980)
03 SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES ‘Halloween’ (Ju Ju LP June 1981)
04 BIRTHDAY PARTY ‘Release The Bats’ (A Side August 1981)
05 THEATRE OF HATE ‘Do You Believe In The Westworld?’ (A Side December 1981)
06 VIRGIN PRUNES ‘Pagan Love Song’ (A Side April 1982)
07 DANSE SOCIETY ‘Danse/Move’ (Seduction Mini LP August 1982)
08 UK DECAY ‘Testament’ (Rising From The Dread LP August 1982)
09 SEX GANG CHILDREN ‘Sebastiane’ (Song And Legend LP March 1983)
10 BRIGANDAGE ‘Hide And Seek’ (The Whip Compilation LP May 1983)
11 MARC & THE MAMBAS ‘Black Heart’ (A Side June 1983)
12 SISTERS OF MERCY ‘Temple Of Love’ (A Side October 1983)
13 THE CULT ‘Spiritwalker’ (A Side May 1984)
14 FLESH FOR LULU ‘Subterraneans’ (A Side May 1984)
15 MARCH VIOLETS ‘Walk Into The Sun’ (A Side July 1984)
16 ALIEN SEX FIEND ‘Maximum Security Twilight Home’ (Maximum Security LP September 1985)
17 GENE LOVES JEZEBEL ‘Desire (Come And Get It)’ (A Side November 1985)
18 RED LORRY YELLOW LORRY ‘Walking On Your Hands’ (Paint Your Wagon LP February 1986)
19 THE MISSION ‘Wasteland’ (Gods Own Medicine LP November 1986)
20 FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM ‘Preacher Man’ (A Side March 1987)