Bauhaus, "Shadow of Light/Archive"

Finally on DVD, this features Bauhaus' two most complete video compilations that were circulating around since the 1980s. I always thought each of these video programs were named what the other should be, as Shadow of Light is a collection of nine promotional music video shorts, some taken from live performances and some with decent sized budgets, while Archive is a 10-song performance film with live shots interspresed with footage of non-band members running around some old English town.

Beggars Banquet

It's easy to dismiss Bauhaus: they influenced thousands upon thousands of crappy imitators (who continue to send us stuff to review) and irritating conformist goths (disco bats); and watching these live shots it's no wonder they were sometimes referred to as "three art-fags and a gogo dancer." (Even worse, they've gone on two reunion tours by now.) But from 1979-1983 they were peerless: too late for glam, too arty to be punk, and too dark for new wave. Most importantly, they made excellent songs. The lyrics were obscure enough to be unpredictable and fun enough to be catchy and last long after the band disbanded. What is observable by watching the videos of songs we've all been singing for years is how much skill and precision the musicians had and how vibrant and energetic Peter Murphy was as the vocalist.

The selection on Shadow of Light runs like a partial Greatest Hits collection. Undeniable highlights are the creepy music video for "Mask," featuring Daniel Ash awaking from a comatose-looking sleep, and shaking the dust off, the rat cellar setting of their cover of Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust," their cover of T. Rex's "Telegram Sam," with the band all dressed up and with plenty of makeup, and the brilliantly classy black and white video for "She's In Parties." What isn't covered by the music videos, hits like "Kick In The Eye" and "Stigmata Martyr," are captured in the live portion of the disc.

The live show, filmed at the Old Vic theatre in London, is as energetic as the band, with a multi-camera team crawling around on the stage so the lights are as in their face as it is in the band's faces. The non-live shots are all somewhat uninspirational: they're sepia-toned, threaded together by an old guy watching the band as if it was a film projected onto a wall, ending with a slideshow of publicity shots and some music video clips set to a studio recording of "Sanity Assassin."

The sound is somewhat spotty: there are times on both segments where it cuts out a little bit here and there, but the video quality is probably as good as it's ever going to get. I have no complaints. And while nothing new or remarkable has been unearthed, having these videos and live footage together should easily be enough to satiate any fan.