Red Velvet Lines The Black Box

Bauhaus Bela 01

Some muted beats, which start to be phased in and out, a gentle resonating chord or two played over the top of an appropriately skeletal beat, two and a half minutes later when the tune picks up momentum and the echoing vocals kick in a whole new genre is up and running.  These few moments in 1979 would have a profound effect on later world events, like the proverbial butterfly flapping its proverbial wings in proverbial Shangri-La.  These few minutes of music led to entire generations over-heating in Summer*, men trying to look like dissolute Edwardian gentlemen all consumptive and interesting, far too many people going to Whitby every year and indirectly to 1537 once wearing eyeliner in public.  The tune in question? Bauhaus Bela Lugosi’s Dead, the 12″ of which I only picked up in November 2001.

White on white translucent black capes
Back on the rack
Bela Lugosi’s dead
The bats have left the bell tower
The victims have been bled
Red velvet lines the black box
Bela Lugosi’s dead
Undead undead undead
The virginal brides file past his tomb
Strewn with time’s dead flowers
Bereft in deathly bloom
Alone in a darkened room
The count
Bela Logosi’s dead
Undead undead undead

You get the picture.  I fell hard for Sisters of Mercy years later, then reverse-engineered my way back to this tune.  I loved goth, I liked the clothes, the stroppy we’re-all-doomed-so-let’s-make-magnificent-yet-futile-love-right-here-and-now romantic ambience and, as a shy-ish teenager, goth chicks were far less scary than metal chicks.  It also gave me a USP when I very briefly became the only ‘living’ goth in West Wales briefly in 1991; Hence the eye-liner thingy.  Rather sadly, I’ve always been a bit too burly to realistically aspire to androgyny.  Curse you cruel world! But anyway, back to Bauhaus.

Bauhaus Bela 02

Bauhaus were never a particularly big name to me, someone leant me an LP when I was about 18 which had a cover of Bowie’s ‘Ziggy Stardust’ on it that I didn’t like.  I think Bela Lugosi’s Dead is a brilliant record though.  Dry as grave dust, the whole thing as insubstantial as a phantom, the beat skittering like the clack of bones, exsufflicate and it just does its job perfectly.  Or maybe I’m just listening to this because I’ve been re-reading H.P Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth^again this week and I want to press further on into the spook zone.  It’s the line about ‘the victims have been bled’ that gets me every time.

Bauhaus Bela 03

The B-side? ‘Boys’ not bad, it sounds like a post-punk take on Bowie, except it doesn’t really go anywhere and despite the ace rhyming couplet ‘Slim-line trousers /Facial powders’ I was waiting for it to finish about a minute before it did.

But we’re here for the A-side so let’s stick it on again so we can stand around being far too elegant and wasted to dance to it apart from by means of overly dramatic hand gestures.

Bauhaus Bela 04

337 Down.

P.S – I know there’s other potential donors to goths DNA, but this is my blog and I’m feeling arbitrary tonight.

*in Kefalonia last year I saw a very normal looking German family sensibly dressed for the heat, being followed at a surly distance by a daughter clad in hues of darkest midnight, bouffant Patricia Morrison hair and all – poor thing must have been sweltering.  As a patronising old dude, I always think ‘aahhh!’ when I see goths, or am I showing my age because they’re all called Emos these days? anyway, they’re harmless.

^I’d forgotten what a brilliant story it was, having not gone back and read any Lovecraft since I was a teenager, apart from At The Mountains of Madness, which I have re-read a good few times, usually in bed in the Winter.

7 thoughts on “Red Velvet Lines The Black Box

  1. I listen to “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” at least twice a week. It re-invigorates my work-numbed soul. When Murphy is singing most folks avoid my cubicle at work. That’s a very good thing.

    Love the raw, tribal sound along with the guitar weirdness. It all adds up to pure genius. I often wonder if The Fall took any inspiration from this song when they recorded “Hip Priest”. Both creak and shudder in the same dank shadows, albeit the ghoul in those shadows is undead with “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” and is merely a drunken Philistine in “Hip Priest”.

    Excellent pick…and one I need to someday own on vinyl.

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    1. Thank you, I love it ! I wonder if they think of you as ‘that Goth guy’ at work?

      Mind you I love ‘Hip Priest’ too, but I’ll take the ghoul version please.

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  2. Heard this wonderful 12″ one Saturday on radio station 3RRR as I was driving to a Dungeons and Dragons day. Couldn’t say it changed my life (it was 20 years before I acquired a Bauhaus CD) but I loved the song. It’s playing now as I write – so thanks for that. The only thing missing is a photo of you in goth regalia.

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    1. Armed with your trusty D12s and your Monster Manual? I was always way too cool for all that, and had far too many Hit Points, as well as having an AC of -2, anyway!

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