Sunday, March 27, 2011

Malaria! – Compiled 1981-1984 (Moabit Musik, 1991)

She gets around the German music scene does this Gudrun Gut lass.

From being a member of the original line up of the groundbreaking and highly influential industrial outfit Einsturzende Neubauten, she moved on to Mania D before forming Malaria!, an astonishing and brilliant all-girl project who’s early works defy easy classification.

This of course raises the question; if the style of Malaria! can’t be easily defined, do they belong here at all? It’s an interesting and difficult question.

I think the answer is best served by saying that Malaria! were in no way a Goth band, but they did like to dabble in the post-punk style that would later become understood as “Goth”, and when they dabbled they did it very, very well. And to amazingly good effect on songs like "Tod / Death" and "Kalte Klares Wasser". The afterthought does occur, that if Malaria! had appeared a decade later, it's easy to imagine that they would have fallen under the Darkwave umbrella.

Tod / Death and Geld / Money appeared on the Malaria! debut full length Emotion (Moabit Musik, 1982)Most of which appears on Compiled. “Kaltes Klares Wasser” appeared on their second Malaria!_...Revisited (ROIR, 1983) and became their main hit although why they opted to wait almost a decade to release it as a single (Moabit Musik, 1991) is anyone’s guess. It didn’t hurt them though, since they got a second bite of the cherry when it was covered (albeit to vastly lesser effect) by ChiKs on Speed (Superstar Recordings, 2001).

Kalte Klares Wasser



So, let us return to the question – do they belong on here?
The easy answer is "well...not really”, At least not in any purist sense. Malaria! touched on the Goth subset rather than overlapping it, but their “dabblings” are exceptional. Then, there are also clear overlaps with fellow German artists Lene Lovich, Nena Hagen, X-Mal Deutschland and Einsturstende Neubauten (the last, perhaps inevitable). If you like these artists (and chances are if you’re reading this site, then you probably do), then Goth or not, you want this album.
That Malaria! have been lost to time is simply criminal.
Highly recommended.

Gudrun Gut went onto the band Matador and continues to run the record labels Monika Enterprise and Moabit Musik while co-hosting a weekly radio show Ocean Club in Berlin and releasing a number of albums, both solo and in collaboration with Myra Davies.

Moabit would re-release Compiled in 2001 with alternative cover art.

Track listing:
1. How Do You Like My New Dog?
2. Kaltes Klares Wasser
3. Geh Duschen
4. Zarah
5. Your Turn To Run
6. Thrash Me
7. You You
8. Dabo
9. Geld / Money
10. Leidenschaft / Passion
11. Eifersucht / Jealousy
12. Einsam / Lonesome
13. Macht / Power
14. Tod / Death
15. Mensch
16. Gewissen

Line up:
Gudrun Gut (guitar, drums, backing vocals), Bettina Koster (vocals, saxophone), Chrisine Hahn (drums, guitar, keyboards), Manon P. Duursma (guitars), Susanne Kuhnke (synthesizer).

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sisters of Mercy – First and Last and Always (Merciful Release / WEA, 1985)

And so, as promised, we return to The Sisters Saga, and indeed an album that along with Love by The Cult (Sire-1985) would prove pivotal in turning what had by now become known as “Goth” away from its earlier arty post-punk roots towards something decidedly more based in hard rock.

 As discussed previously, The Sisters triumphant single Temple of Love (Merciful Release, 1983) had set the template for the future evolution of Gothic Rock and set The Sisters up as a major headlining band in their own right, supported by opening act, the then nascent Smiths.

Things were not well in The Sisters’ camp however with guitarist Ben Gunn deciding that he’d had enough. (one suspects that Ben Gunn may not be his real name, since it happens to mirror that of a character in Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island”, then again – does anyone seriously believe front man Andrew’s last name is really Eldritch?*)

Convinced that the original piss-take nature of the band had been lost and The Sisters were increasingly becoming a one-man dictatorship under Eldritch, Ben Gunn chose to walk away (see what I did there? :-P).

His replacement was one Mr Wayne Hussey Esq. formally associated with an early incarnation of Pete Burns’ Dead or Alive. A massive change in direction resulted, with a much more jangly rock thing appearing, initially in the “Body and Soul” single, but then as the hugely influential First and Last and Always album.

To be honest, much as I love The Sisters, First and Last and Always has never been one of my favourite Sisters discs, but as such a well-known and watershed album I’ve got nothing to say that ain’t been said before (see what I did again?). It does however, contain some of their best songs – the immortal Marian and Some Kind of Stranger come immediately to mind.

Happily though, being such an influential album, provides the opportunity to experience pretty much all of First and Last and Always in its entirety, albeit in various forms.

Things were still looking a tad shaky after First and Last and Always though, leading to a massive schism within the band. Hussey and Adams pissed off to form what would become The Mission and Gary Marx ended up in Ghost Dance with Anne-Marie Skeletal, leaving Eldritch to his own devices. Arguably, The Sisters were nevermore a band as such, but rather Andrew Eldritch and the hired guns. Nevertheless, there was still brilliance yet to come.

But again, this is a story for another time…

Track listing:
1. Black Planet
2. Walk Away
3. No Time to Cry
4. A Rock and a Hard Place
5. Marian
6. First and Last and Always
7. Possession
8. Nine While Nine
9. (Amphetamine) Logic
10. Some Kind of Stranger

Line Up:
Andrew Eldrtich* (vocals), Wayne Hussey (guitar), Gary Marx (guitar), Craig Adams (Bass), Doktor Avalanche (drums).

*It’s not his real name. His actual name is the somewhat unexciting Andrew Taylor. Oh well….what was Goth if not a land of make believe and fantasy?
Come to think of it, my real name probably isn’t even remotely like James Von Sutekh either.