March 1, 2018 Peter Murphy – Love Hysteria 30 Years Later
Any enthusiast of Gothic/New Wave music knew Peter Murphy as the charismatic frontman of the iconic English Post-Punk Gothic band Bauhaus, which was among the prime and pioneering purveyors of the genre, in the early ’80s. Sadly, Bauhaus disbanded in 1983, reuniting only in 1998, but that is a whole other story. Good thing though, the band left a legacy of four studio albums during their imperial phase – from 1980’s In the Flat Field to 1983’s Burning from the Inside.
After the demise of Bauhaus, Murphy did not waste time. He devoted his creative energy on his solo career, releasing his debut album in 1986. However, it would take him two years and the followup album before he was able to breakthrough as a solo artist without the shadow of Bauhaus hanging over him.
Released on Tuesday, March 1, 1988, through RCA/Beggars Banquet Records, his second offering, Love Hysteria, was actually the album that transformed Murphy from being Gothic New Wave’s Dark Prince to the genre’s so-called Pop poster acolyte. It just turned 30, so dusting off your copy of it and giving the pale-brown pop gem a spin is timely.
The sonic aesthetics of Love Hysteria was a slight departure from the still dark predisposition of its predecessor, Should the World Fail to Fall Apart. In it, Murphy gradually transitioned into sophisticated Pop; but it still bore his undeniable Gothic past, which served him well for it resulted in an exotic mélange of what may be described simply as Gothic Pop.
Love Hysteria was written in collaboration with Paul Statham, the keyboardist of B-Movie (“Nowhere Girl”), who became Murphy’s primary co-songwriter and a member of his band – a musical alliance that lasted until Murphy’s seventh album, 2004’s Unshattered. It opened with the night-breezy, moody midtempo “All Night Long,” whose celesta-adorned intro exuded faint echoes of B-Movie’s “Switch On, Switch Off.” This was followed by the slightly metallic, angular stomper “His Circle and Hers Meet,” in which Murphy’s familiar baritone cracked sweetly in certain corners, positively unleashing inevitable Bauhaus tendencies. Then there was the sparse and jangly “Dragnet Drag,” the soft galloping rhythm of which gave it a cinematic quality.
“Socrates the Python” then slithered slowly like a rattlesnake, unabashedly paying homage to Murphy’s Bauhaus lineage but tempering it as well with his newfound Middle Eastern/Turkish indulgences, which he fully expounded on in his subsequent releases. Followed next was the saccharine single that catapulted Murphy into commercial popularity – the New Romantic track “Indigo Eyes.”
Another highlight of Love Hysteria came next in the form of the undulating “Time Has Got Nothing to Do with It,” where Murphy’s voice reverberated confidently, carried effectively by the flickering wings of the keyboard melody. Murphy then electrified the vibes by incorporating Electroclash sensibilities into the upbeat, melodic, and dancefloor-worthy “Blind Sublime,” whose progressive tendencies conjured a collage of action scenes from an obscure B-movie.
The penultimate track – the majestic, heartrending, lyrically haunting, piano-led ballad “My Last Two Weeks” – inarguably remains one of the best songs that Murphy has ever written, opening it with the chilling lines: “When I returned / You buried my last two weeks / My last two weeks / Of my new times.”
Finally, for some good ol’ measure, Murphy wrapped up Love Hysteria with his slick version of the 1977 David Bowie/Iggy Pop collaborative classic “Funtime” – an obvious tribute to two of his musical heroes.
Ultimately, to forget Murphy’s backing band that he dubbed as The Hundred Men will be criminal. These fine musicians contributed so much in the shaping of Murphy’s music during his post-Bauhaus excursions, beginning with Love Hysteria: Faut Güner (guitar), Peter Bonas (guitar, bass), The Fall’s Simon Rogers (guitars, keyboards), Eddie Branch (bass), The Soft Boys’ Matthew Seligman (fretless bass), Paul Statham (keyboards), Howard Hughes (piano), and Terl Bryant (drums, percussion).
Murphy’s last album was 2014’s Lion, and no new material is being thrown out in the foreseeable horizon. He will in fact have a three-week residency at The Chapel in San Francisco, CA rescheduled beginning June 26th and running through July 15, 2018. That in mind, for the time being, the best way to reacquaint yourself with one of the living pioneers of Gothic music is to revisit his discography, appropriately starting with Love Hysteria, as it celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.