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  • Writer's pictureMatt Levin

Daniel Ash: Love And Rockets/Tones on Tail/Bauhaus

Northampton, UK's Daniel Ash is one of the greatest guitar players in rock history, and one of my personal favs for sure. From the moment you drop the needle on Bauhaus' epic debut single, 1979's "Bela Lugosi's Dead" and Ash's eerie, alien sounding soundscapes with those little scrapes, scratches, blips and bleeps start emanating from your speakers, you know you're in for a wild ride. Adding in Peter Murphy's vocal theatrics, and the rhythm section of the bands musical chops, it made for a very potent stew indeed. Ash has said in interviews that he tried to “make the guitar not sound like a guitar.” But however he didn't want it sound, what came out was intuitive, gorgeous and always fascinating. It's easy to call music or guitar playing "atmospheric", but Ash breathed visceral life into that term, he might be the greatest guitar player ever in creating a particular mood with his axe.

Ash's guitar sound influenced a generation of post punk, alternative, goth, psych guitarists with just about every big band of the last 30 years sighting Ash as a major influence. Dave Navarro of Jane's Addiction, Kim Thayil of Soundgarden, John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins to name a few.

After Bauhaus broke up in the early in the early 80's, and Peter Murphy, was out of the picture, Ash formed the truly sublime and under-appreciated Tones on Tail. Still sounding post-modern today, TOT had a distinctive sound, incorporating synth and dance beats into the mix while still sounding alien, and weird for lack of the better term. Tones on Tail saw Ash expanding on his evolving artistic panache not only as a musician, but as a singer, story teller, and performer.

Which brings us to Love And Rockets, Ash's 3rd band and one of my all time favs(I don't include The Bubblemen as a real band, although the trio did put out a single in 1988). With L&R fronted by Ash along with old Bauhaus bandmates David J and Kevin Haskins, Ash's evolution was complete. His songwriting, guitar playing, visual style, video and performances would become fully formed in L&R. Combining lush acoustic guitar and electric to create a beautiful, psychedelic mix on the groups debut, 1985's "Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven" onto the equally amazing "Express" from 1986, and through 1987's stunning "Earth, Sun, Moon" LP, this was apex of Ash's output. I was lucky enough to see them in LA during their heyday and they were simply incredible.

Ash continued to make L&R records before they split up in the early 2000's. Since then he has put out solo records, played shows with the reformed Bauhaus and L&R on different occasions, and in 2017, he formed Poptone with Kevin Haskins, and Kevin's daughter, Diva Dompé on bass. Poptone was unique in that it saw Ash workout tracks across his career, including never before played live version of Tones on Tail tunes! I was lucky enough to see and film one of these shows in Aug of 2017 in New York City. It was great to see Ash looking and sounding as vibrant as ever even at the age of 60! I chose to share a video clip of the L&R track "Mirror People" to showcase Ash's many talents! Enjoy!❤️&🚀

P.S. Love And Rockets are reforming later this spring and are playing The Cruel World Festival in LA in May! Fingers crossed for my dates and full tour!

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