Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The End of the Eighties, Track 30

“Party of the First Part”
Swing the Heartache: The BBC Sessions

When I worked at the now long-gone Digital Daze CD store in Akron, I rarely took home an actual paycheck. I was always one for being compensated in the form of shiny little discs enfolded in cardboard longboxes or rare gems from the import case. Among my “take-home pay” over the years I worked there were the 1988 Beggars Banquet UK catalog issues of Bauhaus’ Mask, Press the Eject and Give Me the Tape, The Sky’s Gone Out, and Burning from the Inside with the “ripped” CD insert motif and full of extras.

Buried among those bonus tracks on the The Sky’s Gone Out was “Party of the First Part”. This quirky little bass-drum-keyboard workout consists of dialog sampled from the 1978 Canadian Halloween animated special, The Devil and Daniel Mouse by Nelvana Ltd. It’s like watching the show while the bad practices. The only non-sampled dialog is, I assume, a band member commenting that “the interview circus is so absurd, and so silly” near the two-minute mark. The song itself is nearly five-and-a-half minutes long, but the sampled dialog is finished before the three-minute mark, leaving two-and-a-half minutes of groove to carry the song out.

The song received proper US distribution a year later, with the release of Swing the Heartache: The BBC Sessions. As much as I listened to the original albums on the UK releases, it was Swing the Heartache that got the most airplay on my stereo because of the rawness of the Peel Session tracks and nice sampling of the band’s overall catalog. This is where “Party of the First Part” really became ingrained in my musical lexicon. It’s one of those eccentric numbers that helped endear Bauhaus to me. Like so many other pop culture artifacts, I know every word, every well-timed pause and vocal inflection of the dialog from the song. And, given how often I played The Sky’s Gone Out and Swing the Heartache in the dorm room freshman year, I would bet John could recite it, too.

There are a couple of tangential pop culture items of note regarding The Devil and Daniel Mouse source animation:

First, it was the basis for Nelvana’s 1983 animated full-length film Rock & Rule, featuring music by Debbie Harry, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Cheap Trick, and Earth Wind & Fire. Aired incessantly on HBO in the early and mid-’80s, it held a place alongside Heavy Metal among our regular late night viewing. The voice of The Devil and Daniel Mouse’s B.L. Zebub, Chris Wiggins, could also be found on Rock & Rule, among dozens of other classic ’80s animated shows, including The Care Bears, ALF: The Animated Series, Star Wars: Ewoks and Star Wars: Droids.

Second, Nelvana is responsible for arguably the only redeeming value of the mythically bad (and, yes, I remember watching it when it originally aired in November 1978) Star Wars Holiday Special. Apparently, George Lucas was a fan of the studio’s work and tapped them to create the 10-minute animated short that introduces the character of Boba Fett nearly two years before his feature film debut in The Empire Strikes Back.

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