But who is Daniel Ash? It's tough to say, and therein lies his greatest strength, and his greatest liability. As a band member, and as a solo artist, he's trod so much stylistic terrain that although he spent two solid decades in the public eye, regularly releasing new material, he remains one of music's most elusive practitioners. He's a true mystery man: To love him is to not really know him at all.
When was the last time a rock band spun off several acts and the lead singer didn't have anything to do with the biggest one? I'll always love Peter Murphy (his second solo album Deep, released on December 19, 1989, was the last great album of the '80s), but Ash is the only former Bauhaus member who can boast of writing and singing a Top 10 U.S. hit: Love and Rocket's "So Alive," which hit No. 3 on Billboard's Hot 100 in 1989.
My three most memorable Daniel Ash-related moments:
1) Listening to Debbie Gibson subbing for Casey Kasem on "America's Top 40" and being taken completely off guard when she introduced Love and Rocket's Top 10 hit "So Alive" and made an off-the-cuff comparison to T. Rex. What did she know about T. Rex? Right then I was certain there might be a lot more depth to Miss Gibson than her early frothy-pop hits like "Shake Your Love" and "Only in My Dreams."
|I know this is about Daniel, but we need to talk about Kevin!|
5. Seeing Bauhaus live at the Hammerstein Ballroom during its 1998 reunion tour. Who knew Goth would still play so well more than a decade and a half later?
"Christian Says" Tones on Tail (1984 single) My favorite song for a guy until Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" came around.
"Yin and Yang and the Flower Pot Man" Love and Rockets (from Express, 1986) I took a class on Eastern religion in college, and every time the professor mentioned yin and yang, this song would play in my mind.
"Love Me" Love and Rockets (from Express) As creepy and seductive as that four-letter word.
"Shelf Life" Love and Rockets (from Sweet F.A., 1996) Backstage at Irving Plaza, I made one special request of Ash: Don't forget to play my favorite song on Sweet F.A. He didn't. It sounded as good live as it did on the CD.
"Natacha" Love and Rockets (from Sweet F.A.) Alas, Sweet F.A.'s other standout didn't make the set list.
"Party's Not Over" Love and Rockets (from Lift, 1998) Sadly, it was. Lift was the final Love and Rockets album.
"Candy Darling" Daniel Ash (from Coming Down, 1991) I've never been so big on musical tributes to tragic or suicidal blondes, with two exceptions: INXS's "Suicide Blonde" and this high point of Ash's first solo album.
"Get Out of Control" Daniel Ash (from Foolish Thing Desire, 1992) As shamelessly commercial as Ash ever dared to get.
"Trouble" Daniel Ash (from Daniel Ash, 2002) Another musical reinvention (this time as a full-on electronica act) in a career full of them, first heard on the soundtrack to the 2000 Christian Bale film American Psycho.
"Burning Man" Daniel Ash (from Daniel Ash) Just as things were getting really exciting -- Ash's self-titled third solo album was his most daring and experimental work since Bauhaus -- he more or less disappeared. There's been some scattered activity in recent years, including a Bauhaus reunion album (2008's Go Away White), several EPs and a 2008 Love and Rockets regrouping at Lollapalooza, but no new Ash studio solo album in 10 years and counting.