30 years ago, March 1982 – Tones on Tail “Tones on Tail” EP

I love Tones on Tail {see: discography, gigs & tours}.  If you are a Bauhaus fan, then Tones on Tail are probably already on your radar as they were the brainchild of Bauhaus’s guitarist Daniel Ash (vocals, guitar, synths, sax, hair spray) along with school friend and Bauhaus roadie Glen Campling (bass, keyboards).  They formed in 1982 (the subject of this post is their very first single) and when Bauhaus imploded in 1983 Kevin Haskins joined Tones on Tail on drums.

Tones on Tail always struck me as being a release valve for Daniel Ash.  Bauhaus is dark and intense whereas Tones on Tail is light and frothy – almost poppy – but always challenging and edgy.  Think pop music by David Lynch.  They didn’t last long – a clutch of singles and a solitary studio LP… plus about 30 compilations all mixing up the same stuff.  These were accompanied by a short UK/US tour, and whoosh – they were gone.  I wish they would come back – I think that this is the best thing Ash has done outside of Bauhaus.

The Tones on Tail EP was released pre-Kevin Haskins, and is a really minimal electro/funk bass thing with a drum machine blipping away in the background.  The later TOT stuff was much more “normal” in terms of song structures whereas this early stuff (pre first LP) is much more experimental/abstract.

The opening (title?) track – a Bigger Splash – sees the beatbox on full bosa nova duties with Campling hammering out a single reverberated funk riff over and over and over.  Over this Ash delivers the words monotonously & atonally.  The chorus is a woodblock solo and, when the guitar does arrive, it is FX-ville panning all over the shop.  Good fun really.

Copper’s riff is ripped of Day Tripper andgives Ash the opportunity to get his sax out.  There is no singing.  Means of Escape is another minimal drum/funk bass workout with Ash whispering the vocals.  Instrunental is really nice – laid back funk bass with wide acoustic guitars over the top (think Bauhaus’s Passion of Lovers or Slice of Life).

It wouldn’t be the first Tones on Tail I would recommend, but it’s not a bad debut.

Tones on Tail – “A Bigger Splash”, 1982

It’s very good advice to believe
Only what an artist does

People interested in painting
Might be fascinated by an arm

When I was in heaven the only
Art i saw in time was my fare

This is how to make one’s
Living as an artist
I thought the idea

My father was painting
On some crystals
I saw to watch him do it

He began by putting
A whole sheet of hardboard
Flush over each one

Then he started painting
Sunsets on the floor
I thought they were wonderful

It is very good advice to believe
Only what an artist does

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