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Music / Tones on Tail

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From L-R: Glenn Campling (bass, keyboards), Daniel Ash (guitars, vocals), Kevin Haskins (drums)

"Yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah-yah, yah"
"Right, let's do the 'Yah-yahs' now..."


Tones on Tail was a Post-Punk side project by Bauhaus guitarist Daniel Ash, composed of him with friend Glenn Campling and later Bauhaus drummer Kevin Haskins. The group took Bauhaus' gloom and doom and warped it into what they called "doom-and-dance-pop", fusing several different styles and sounds together into a unique take on Post-Punk and New Wave Music. They released one LP, Pop, and several singles and EPs before splitting in 1984. A 1998 compilation, the aptly named Everything!, gathered up... everything.

Ash and Haskins attempted to reform Bauhaus with bassist David J, but singer Peter Murphy declined, so the three instead formed Love and Rockets to commercial and critical success. Love and Rockets broke up in 2009, and after a period of Daniel focusing on solo work, he and Kevin formed Poptone in 2017 with Haskins' daughter Diva Dompe on bass. While they played songs written and sung by Ash from all three previous bands, their live shows leaned heavily on Tones on Tail material.

The band provides examples of:

  • A Cappella: "Slender Fungus", composed of vocals and mouth noises.
  • Cover Version: A live version of Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" on Everything! and a rare studio version on the Weird Pop compilation.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Some of their promotional pictures are grayscale, and the band performed while dressed entirely in white as a counterpoint to the all-black of Bauhaus.
  • Electronic Music: They experimented with Dub, dance remixes, club music, Ambient, and Synth-Pop.
  • Epic Rocking: "Rain" runs to 8:27.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Subverted with Everything!. It's a collection of all of their music... except for three alternate versions of "Go!", "Burning Skies" and "Twist", which were instead included on the EP, Something!. The original version of "Performance" and the studio version of "Heartbreak Hotel" were also left out and later appeared on the Weird Pop compilation.
  • Foreshadowing: The above picture shows the band in front of drawn representations of themselves as bees. In 1988, Love and Rockets would release a one-off single as The Bubblemen, in which they dressed up as bees.
  • Genre Mashup: The band played and fused together whatever they wanted, from airy gloom Pop ("Lions") to funky Post-Punk ("War"), club Synth-Pop ("Performance"), heavy Goth Rock ("Christian Says"), Ambient Electronica ("Rain"), and A Cappella nonsense ("Slender Fungus").
  • Goth Rock
  • New Wave Music: The band claim to be important to the genre's development.
  • Post-Punk
  • Psychedelic Rock: One of the more prominent influences, and its different styles can be heard throughout Pop.
  • Rock Trio: When Kevin joined. The first few singles were with a drum machine.
  • Solo Side Project: The band was this for Ash while Bauhaus was still active.
  • Studio Chatter: "Right, let's do the "yah-yahs" now" at the end of "Go!".
  • Synth-Pop: "Performance".
  • Take That!: Peter Murphy believed "The Movement of Fear" was a shot at him, but Daniel never confirmed or denied this. Peter later wrote an Answer Song, "The Answer is Clear", which featured Daniel on guitars.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Much of Ash's lyrics are stream-of-consciousness incomprehensibility. From "Slender Fungus":
    "Love and hope and sex and dreams
    Pride and joy, fast cars, ice cream
    Jet black hair, soft socks and shoes
    Let's fish around, free air again."
  • Word Salad Title: "The Never Never (Is Forever)".