Mask was the best studio album Bauhaus produced, so it's good that it has received the omnibus treatment. The extra two discs and booklet really give the big picture overview of what is now a minor classic, panned by most critics at the time.
Bauhaus were unique in the post punk alternative landscape and approached their craft from many different directions, including influences from literature, theatre and art into their undeniably rock n roll sound. Thirty or so years later it's hard to see why the album provoked such negative reviews when it was released, so a short history lesson is required. At the start of the 1980s the British music press was struggling with the fragmentation of the the punk movement. It resulted in a dizzy form of trend hopping that continued to spin faster and faster as the decade went on. When this was released the press were still obsessed with the impact of Joy Division and the related emergence of synthesisers as a core instrument. Where bands on that path were earnest and introverted, Bauhaus were theatrical and challenging. They came across like a side show house of horrors against the grey backdrop of Thatcher's Britain. They were seen as pretentious and arty, but their live act was virtually unequalled at the time in terms of energy and entertainment value. The third disc of this set provides easily the best document of that side of the band. Better even that Press the Eject and Give Me the Tape, this show from Hammersmith Palais is an astonishing and exhausting run through their best tracks, played with real energy and commitment by a band at the peak of their creative power. It's worth the price of admission alone and the reason I picked this up.
The second disc is a pleasant surprise. I expected a run of the mill collection of out takes and alternative versions, but what you get is an exploration of the dub side of the band - a side I hadn't appreciated much until now. They often threw in dub versions and spoken word pieces as b-sides, but when assembled in a single place you can appreciate the considerable skill they had in the studio. It's subject matter is where things can be difficult. It is all very film noir and ominous, but it's entertaining in the same way as Hammer horror films were, containing the same kind of camp self-consciouness that stops things from getting too serious. There is a lot of humour in the stuff Bauhaus did, but it's humour that's as black as coal and requires the listener to appreciate irony and surrealism - something seriously lacking in audiences (and a lot of other bands) at the time. I still don't get why they decided to cover Ziggy Stardust though. For me that's the low point of the disc and the band as a whole. It's just really obvious and dull.
The first disc contains the Mask album intact. I would have left out Of Liiles and Remains and replaced it with Poison Pen if I was them, but it's a bit late now. It's a classic of dark surrealistic rock: part Black Sabbath, part dub and part death disco. Like Public Image Ltd without the nihilism. Or Chic doing a vampire horror sountrack. No shades of grey to depress you, just black on black with flashes of strobing white. Not many other bands would open up with the Peter Gunn Theme and use it as the riff for a song about obsessive self destruction then finish the album with a pretty sounding piece of mock harpsicord like Bach writing the score for the apocalyse.
So that's it. Apart from a couple of personal points of taste, I recommend this one to anyone with an interest in the band. As I say, disc three is where the real treasure lies, but there's plenty of black gold to be found in the rest. Get drilling.
I've spent the day living with this and am quite impressed.
The package is lovely. The book contains some great writing, lots of posters/ads from the time, a complete list of gigs, lyrics and also a list of what was recorded when and when/how it was released.
The album sound fantastic. The live disc is a powerful performance and the extra material is interesting. I am not a fan of most of the demos. They are interesting to hear but very rough. I would have preferred all the B-Sides, but that is a minor quibble.
All in all, a fantastic package for a great price. Hopefully it will be a success and lead to similar packages for the rest of the catalogue !
Bauhaus' second studio album could have done with better production as the live versions of these songs on "Press the Eject..." and "Archive" are far superior. Despite that the band came up with a typically varied work, from the funk of "Kick in the Eye" and "In Fear of Fear", to the atmospheric and haunting "Hollow Hills" to the surreal "Mask". Outstanding songs are "The Passion of Lovers" and the self-parodying "Muscle in Plastic". The bonus tracks are an eclectic mix. "Harry" is a song from 1979, when the band were probably still deciding on a musical direction; what we have here is ska that The Specials would be proud of. The cadavre exquis "1. David Jay 2. Peter Murphy 3. Kevin Haskins 4. Daniel Ash" is a style the band repeated to better effect with "Exquisite Corpse" on "The Sky's Gone Out". Closing track "Satori" is an interesting clanking instrumental that Bauhaus later used to introduce their shows. At times "Mask" sounds muted and inhibited, yet this remains Bauhaus' most accessible work as almost all of the tracks could have been released as singles.
Can't recommend this highly enough! The Packaging is superb and lovingly put together! Puts to shame many reissue series by other labels/bands (hello WEA/RHINO and the pathetic/insulting jobs you have done with The Sisters Of Mercy!!) The box format is a great idea and the booklet is truly fabulous with many pics quotes/lyrics etc... The music? Great inventive band Crazy lyrics! Love 'em! Why cant all reissues be like this??? I hope Beggars do one for Fields Of the Nephilim debut 'Dawnrazor'!!!
There is no way anyone could complain about the audio content of both of the Bauhaus deluxe packages and the recent The Cult package.The remastered sound is top shelf and the extras are a collector's dream.
The only point reason I haven't given this 5 stars is the packaging. It's a try-hard attempt to replicate a superb Japanese model. Mini-LP sleeves area wonderful idea but they need to be printed with real attention to detail and on top quality material. The Japanese are masters at this. This tries to copy that but the print quality is not quite there. The sleeves don't fold properly and are a bit flimsy. Inks are cheap and the overall finish leaves a lot to be desired. A wonderful idea from a design point of view which has been let down by mediocre production. If the Japanese do a version of this I'm sure they'll right all of the wrongs as they did with the recent Beatles box sets.
I payed £10.99 for this superb package and would have been happy to pay a little more as its so good. The discs come in replica card sleeves which in turn fit nicely into a sturdy A5 box.The first disc contains the original album with no bonus tracks which I like because the extras can often dilute the quality of treasured recording. This album is considered by many to be their finest. I am not sure about that but anyway you look at it, its still a very good album. Disc 2 contains alternative/rough/dub mixes of Mask tracks aswell as a few other things which vary in quality. Overall, a very listenable extras disc featuring 17 tracks. Disc 3 is a real treat. A live recording from 1981 which I believe to be far superior to press the eject button. On top of that you get a nice booklet. This is how it should be done. A great package.
This second album by Bauhaus continued the band' exploration of the gothic sensibility that they had so brilliantly pioneered on their debut. There is a definite effort to broaden their musical style with more explicit keyboard and synth experimentation. Amongst the best songs are the tracks Of Lilies And Remains, a type of spoken poem with nightmarish images over squeaking guitar, nervous drumming and spacious, evocative synths, and Kick In The Eye, a gripping ballad with hypnotically repetitive phrases over an atmospheric rock backing. The up-tempo track In Fear Of Fear has particularly impressive keyboard textures, whilst Hair Of The Dog is a great track with rousing vocals and Muscle In Plastic is a dissonant excursion with an almost funky undertone. Bauhaus is an acquired taste and I find Peter Murphy's solo work more accessible and appealing, but there is no question that they were a very inventive band that extended the boundaries of rock.
First heard The passion of lovers (track 2)on radio 1 it totally changed my world as I was a bit young in the late 70s to be a punk and although I loved the sound of punk I never felt it was my genre . So I rushed out bought the album Mask (and since all Bauhaus albums). Instantly new Bauhaus were for me, the original Goths. The crackle of the needle on the vinyl and then a sound of shooting stars before the drumming thumps in we are in to track 1 Hair of the dog, punk like energy but more refinement more control yet slightly haunting. Track 2 The passion of lovers, will always be my favourite. Track 3 of Lillies and remains, great Peter Murphy vocal and a nice slow down from the first two tracks.Track 4 Dancing, back to full throttle and then on to track 5 Hollow Hills described by many as Haunting and it truly is.If your happy being in your own thoughts its a very powerful sombre song. Track 6 Kick in the eye, the most pop sounding song on the album. Track 7 In fear of fear, upbeat again. I prefer the dub version. Track 8 Muscle in plastic great drumming aggresive vocals very punk like. Track 9 The man with the x-ray eyes, take away Peter Murphy you would have a song from Adam and the Ants. Track 10 Mask, The album title track to me sums up Bauhaus just different to anything else . If you have never heard of Bauhaus this is a good album to start with.
Any fan of Bauhaus will be beside themselves with excitement with the release of this (and the debut In The Flat Field). Having reformed and subsequently disbanded twice in the last ten years, and with the posthumous release of Go Away White, many would have assumed that there was nothing left to scrape from the bones of the Bauhaus carcass. The 'lost' first draft of Mask is the stuff of legend for fans; I for one can't wait. I've awarded this 5 stars as the original version of the album is worthy of that, let alone the additional material.
Mask is one of those records that leaves you hungry for more. Now we have more. A bonus disc ofstudio out-takes, demos and live oddities. Then we have a third disk containing a live show from said era. With a beautiful book to remind you of how the LP came to life this is the re-issue for 2009 in my book.