December 20, 2013

Tones on Tail - Everything! (1998)

When Bauhaus guitarist Daniel Ash began working on an informal solo-based side project in early 1982, little did he know that within a year, not only would it evolve into a group project called Tones on Tail, but it would also become his main gig, as the recording sessions for Bauhaus' then-swan song, Burning from the Inside, made it apparent that relations between Peter Murphy and the rest of the band were quickly deteriorating. After Murphy bolted to work with Mick Karn on the Dalis Car project  previous to jump-starting his solo career, Ash, along with former art school buddy and ex-Bauhaus roadie Glenn Campling and Bauhaus drummer Kevin Haskins, decided to leave behind the overt Gothic theatricality of their former band, choosing instead to focus on a more eclectic and experimental sound. Ash: "It was a great time, reaching out to something different. It was quite liberating after Bauhaus. In the end, we wanted a different type of music and [Peter Murphy] wanted to go in a more dance direction." Campling describes the early evolution of the band: "Dan was working towards a solo project when we lived in 'digs' during the Bauhaus heydays. I was backline roadie at the time. He was recording "Instrumental" and another track which became "Copper" (featuring both of us laughing our heads off- Dan's first vocal maybe?). He invited me to contribute to an idea which eventually became "A Bigger Splash" and "Means of Escape." The ball rolled on from there. We both enjoyed the distraction." 

 During Tones on Tail's two-year existence, they recorded one LP, Pop, and several EPs, all of which garnered critical praise for their unique and innovative mixture of neo-psych melancholy (something Ash and Haskins would explore further in Love and Rockets) with lighter, more dance-oriented elements. For example, on "Lions," the lead track on Pop, the band establishes a spectral samba effect, which joins Ash's seductively hushed vocals in creating a fine piece of moody pop that proves far more accessible than anything Bauhaus would have committed to tape. Likewise, on "Happiness," with its swinging cocktail-Jazz arrangement and playfully sarcastic lyrics, Tones on Tail prove effective at integrating a wide range of influences into a sound that, while echoing the experimental side of Bauhaus (an extremely under-appreciated aspect of the band, an example of which is the brilliant dub effect on "Bela Lugosi's Dead"), clearly stakes out its own territory. Another instantly memorable track is "Performance," one of the darker songs on Pop. With its cheesy synth-driven opening bars that somehow manage to set up an atmosphere of dread that pervades the entire song, along with Campling's nervy bass-lines and Haskins' adventurous percussion, Ash couldn't have asked for a better back-drop for one of the best, most straightforward vocal performances of his career. While Tones on Tail has never enjoyed the popularity or notoriety of Ash's more psychedelically-inclined work in Love and Rockets, it could be argued that this short-lived band not only drafted the blueprint for the latter band's sound, but did so while managing to sound far more experimental and unprecedented. Ash: " We were a motley crew of individuals who essentially wanted to sound like a band from Venus or Mars!"

Everything! (1998)
 Disc I- Pop
1. Lions
2. War
4. The Never Never (Is Forever)
5. Performance
6. Slender Fungus
8. Real Life
9. Rain

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Disc II- EPs & Previously Unreleased
 1. Go! (Club Mix)
 2. Christian Says
 3. Twist
 5. O.K., This Is the Pops
 6. You, the Night, and the Music
 8. There's Only One
 9. Now We Lustre
10. A Bigger Splash
11. Copper
12. Means of Escape
13. Instrumental
14. Performance (7" Version)
15. Shakes

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  1. Everything!




    part 1


    part 2


  2. Thank you for posting this. I vaguely remember reading about this band years ago. One listen to "Rain" and I was hooked.

    1. If you like Love and Rockets, this should be up your alley

  3. Many a sweaty night grooving on the dancefloors of Edinburgh and Glasgow's "Alternative" club scene with Christian Says :)

  4. you did it again ! looking for the tracks omittewd from the Night Music CD (esp Performance) .. good writing & good site