"Live the life you love. Use a god you trust. And don't take it all too seriously."
The demise of Bauhaus was an unceremonious affair: on the eve of releasing Burning from the Inside, the band was set to play two shows at the late great Hammersmith Palais in London. Taking a cue from one of their main influences, Ziggy-era Bowie, they decided to cryptically reveal their split at the end of the second show, with David J announcing, "rest in peace" as the band left the stage after a lengthy encore. Reportedly, the split was the result of typical rock-band maladies such as creative differences and jealousies; however, what likely happened was that during the recording sessions for Bauhaus' last album, which took place largely without Peter Murphy due to an illness, Daniel Ash, David J, and Kevin Haskins figured out that life without their temperamental lead singer offered intriguing creative possibilities. After working on various independent projects such as Ash and Haskins' Tones on Tail and David J's Jazz Butcher and The Sinister Ducks, David J organized a Bauhaus reunion rehearsal that Murphy agreed to but never bothered to show up for; nevertheless, the rehearsal sans Murphy went well, and out of this was born Love and Rockets (the name having been taken from a comic book serial), which largely left behind the overt Gothic affectations of Bauhaus and instead explored a more accessible, psychedelia-tinged version of Post-Punk. While their second LP, Express, is often considered their best work, their debut, Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven is arguably just as strong if not better, as it is more focused and takes more creative chances than its successor. While Love and Rockets manage to retain many of the dark themes they explored in Bauhaus, their sound on their debut LP is much more lush and pop-oriented while adding psychedelic overtones to the mix. The non-LP single (which was quickly added to subsequent versions of the album) "Ball of Confusion" is a telling example of this creative rebirth. While not as brilliant as the original Temptations version, Love and Rockets manage to simultaneously update the song as a psych-goth rocker but also re-contextualize the song as a club anthem. Simply a masterstroke. The album itself is full of moody tracks, such as "A Private Future" whose lush structure of descending guitar arpeggios is quite reminiscent of Bauhaus' swan-song, but the addition of a few straightforward pop elements early in the song creates a greater sense of tension when things take a darker turn at the mid-way point. One of the truly transcendent moments on the album is "The Dog-End of a Day Gone By," which is a stunning neo-psych anthem that makes it hardly seem possible that it could emanate from essentially the same band responsible for "Bela Lugosi's Dead." While Love and Rockets would go on to unforeseen commercial heights later in the eighties, the artistic euphoria of exploring something new is palpable on Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven, making it perhaps the purest distillation of the band's unique sound.
Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven (2000 Remastered and Expanded Edition)
1. If There's a Heaven Above (4:57)
2. A Private Future (5:06)
3. The Dog-End of a Day Gone By (7:38)
4. The Game (5:09)
5. Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven (6:37)
6. Haunted When the Minutes Drag (8:03)
7. Saudade (5:00)
8. Ball of Confusion (12' UK Mix) (7:20)
9. Inside the Outside (4:22)
10. If There's a Heaven Above (12' UK Mix) (7:00)
11. God and Mr. Smith (4:49)
12. Haunted When the Minutes Drag (USA Mix) (4:32)
13. If There's a Heaven Above (Canada Mix) (4:26)