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Life Less Lived: The Gothic Box

A Life Less Lived: The Gothic Box

5.0 2
"Gothic rock" -- the eyeliner-obsessed offshoot of early '80s post-punk -- has been critically maligned even as it's taken root all over the world. Well, on the strength of this three-CD-plus-DVD box set, it may be time to revise the canon with a kinder eye toward the subculture, which boasts a rich musical history and an ongoing line of bands and enthusiasts. Some of


"Gothic rock" -- the eyeliner-obsessed offshoot of early '80s post-punk -- has been critically maligned even as it's taken root all over the world. Well, on the strength of this three-CD-plus-DVD box set, it may be time to revise the canon with a kinder eye toward the subculture, which boasts a rich musical history and an ongoing line of bands and enthusiasts. Some of the bigger names included here, such as post-punk stalwarts Joy Division, the Cure, and Echo & the Bunnymen, aren't recognized as exclusively "Goth" bands, but stylistically they donned the same garb, and their sound formed the bulwark upon which subsequent bands would build. With gloomy synths and jarring guitars, leather-filled wardrobes, and chilly lyrics obsessing on death, shattered hearts, and Romantic and religious imagery, early Goth bands truly captured a mood -- yet one that was curiously danceable, thanks to the emergence of drum machines and drummers who aped them. A Life Less Lived: The Gothic Box collects tracks from some of the most recognizable names of Goth -- Bauhaus (and its many, many offshoots), the Sisters of Mercy, the Birthday Party, Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance -- most of whom have previously been reluctant to participate in anthologies like this one, making this box particularly accurate and comprehensive. Surprising to some might be the musical breadth represented here, from the art-rock leanings of Dali's Car (a duo of Bauhaus singer Peter Murphy and Japan bassist Mick Karn) to the '60s pop idolization of the Jesus & Mary Chain and Flesh for Lulu, to the punk-inspired fury of the Misfits and the Damned. Another interesting tangent traced here is the morphing of Ian Astbury's Southern Death Cult (the primitive-sounding "Fatman") to the Death Cult (the comparatively chiming "God's Zoo") to the Cult (the throbbing mid-'80s hit "Rain"). But the standout tracks don't come solely from the known quantities; you'll also hear memorable tracks by groups last heard on vinyl: "Christian Says" from Bauhaus offshoot Tones on Tail; "Walking on Your Hands" by Red Lorry Yellow Lorry; "Heaven Is Waiting" by Danse Society; and "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" by Specimen. Capping off the musical offerings is a true-to-the original cover of the Cure's "The Hanging Garden" by contemporary flag-bearers AFI. The set's DVD gathers a dozen essential video clips from the biggest names of the genre -- any fan worth his pancake makeup simply must own the scene anthem "Bela Lugosi's Dead." The accompanying 60-page booklet features essays, testimonials from the artists, extensive track notes, photographs, and -- as if to show the compilers' own Gothic funny bone -- tips on "How to Dance Gothic" and "10 Essentials for Putting on a Proper Goth Night." Marrying Goth touchstone tracks with plenty of surprises (which stand up surprisingly well), A Life Less Lived captures the heart and soul of the genre. Despite its best intentions, Goth lives on.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
By the gods, here it is, the much vaunted "definitive" Gothic rock compendium from the packaging and licensing elves at Rhino Records. A Life Less Lived will certainly be a candidate for the best packaging award at the Grammy Awards for 2006. As unlikely and as unsettling it is -- for those who live by the black rose of Goth and wish to remain underneath their sad rock in the dark garden of marginality -- without even considering the music or video inside it, this box set stands out as something that perhaps might be sold at your local S&M pleasure palace emporium. Why? Well, for one, it's all assembled inside a black vinyl corset. Only the sticker reveals its contents as it boasts those band names sure to offend every parent who shops at the local mega mart that insists on labeling a CD's contents; names such as Alien Sex Fiend, Christian Death, Fields of the Nephilim, and more adorn the red, black and white sticker. Pasted, of course, in prominent view. Musically, this is a mixed bag. Liz Goodman produced this set and for the most part, she did an excellent job. There are some problematic selections, and of course the stuff that's not here is just as troubling, but then that's what themed various artist box sets are about. Disc one kicks off with Joy Division's "Dead Souls." While it's true that the overwhelming majority would look to JD as one of the penultimate Goth progenitors, it's still an argumentative choice. What about Bauhaus? (Yep -- but with a caveat later). The Sisters of Mercy? Uh huh. March Violets? Of course. Danse Society? You bet. Virgin Prunes? OK, but that's only part of what they were about as a band. The point is, so many of these selections may have been embraced by those who love Goth music, but weren't bands that necessarily tried -- or even wanted to -- appeal to that gloom and doom rock & roll subculture. Another instance: the Misfits "Halloween" is here, but nothing from former frontman Glenn Danzig's Black Aria project -- which is overtly Gothic music. The Misfits, the Damned, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Echo & the Bunnymen, Throbbing Gristle, Einstürzende Neubauten, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, the Birthday Party, Ministry, and the Chameleons U.K. just don't belong here. The Cure is deeply arguable as well. And then there's the sheer volume of post-Bauhaus projects included here. You get the original, but was it necessary to include Tones on Tail, Love and Rockets, Dali's Car, or Peter Murphy's (or "Blitz" as he was known to the late John Peel) and Daniel Ash's solo properties? There are some genius choices here too, though, such as Kommunity FK's "To Blame," .45 Grave's "Party Time," the Cranes' "Starblood," and Rose of Avalanche's "Dreamland," are just a few. There are some rather interesting choices in London After Midnight's "Kiss," Red Lorry Yellow Lorry's "Walking on Your Hands," and Ghost Dance's "The Grip of Love." Much of the standard fare is here as well: "Bela Lugosi's Dead" is here on DVD, as is "She's in Parties," "Snake Dance" by the March Violets, the Cocteau Twins' "Blood Bitch," and tracks by Flesh for Lulu, Gene Loves Jezebel, Xmal Deustschland, Sex Gang Children, and Southern Death Cult. It's great as far as it goes. But what about all the bands on the Projekt label, the longest running, willfully Goth project out there for almost two decades? These are the most obvious omissions, but there certainly are others. Where is Mass and the other half-a-dozen 4AD bands who most certainly were Goth? It appears that Goodman was too selective in places and not subjective in others. The DVD is killer, however, with its video selection, even if some of them don't necessarily belong in Goth terrain. Seeing Fields of the Nephilim here with Moonchild, the Sisters of Mercy's "Lucretia My Reflection," and the Mission U.K.'s "Deliverance" all in a row is brilliant. Love and Rockets' "Ball of Confusion," and the Jesus and Mary Chain's "Head On" are great even if they don't belong here. The Cult's live "Spiritwalker" (before the band became some kind of headbanging biker "Steppenwolf Jr" or something) is also a nice pick. Ending with Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Cities in Dust" is another great choice. The Nick Cave video is great, but again, it just doesn't belong here and the same goes for Ministry's "Stigmata." The booklet in this package is a thing to behold in and of itself. It's gorgeous in terms of design and presentation -- it's stitched, not just glued. There are essays by Goodman, Goth maniac Mick Mercer, Dave Thompson did the track by track, Alternative Press' Jason Pettigrew has a very entertaining essay called "The 'G' Word: Artists Address the 'Goth' Tag," and Sue Lott and former Big Chief guitarist Phil Durr wrote a very fine "Hiss and Hearse: Two Tales from the Goth Side. There is also a section entitled "The Lighter Side of Goth," with essays on "How to Dance Gothic" and "Ten Essentials for Running a Proper Goth Night." There is an arguable discography at the back, as well. A Life Less Lived is most likely of interest for those fans who already have all this music anyway, but are interested in (A): seeing it one place in a lush and very handsome package, and (B): feel that they've finally been vindicated by the mainstream. As for being a cultural document of stature, history will decide that, but this is the first thing of its kind that's actually been worth the fuss.

Product Details

Release Date:


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Rikk Agnew   Guitar
Nick Cave   Keyboards,Vocals
Chris Connelly   Background Vocals
Mick Karn   Bass,Keyboards
Peter Murphy   Vocals
Paul Nash   Guitar
Daniel Ash   Bass,Guitar,Vocals
David J   Bass
Gavin Friday   Vocals,Track Performer
Paul Roessler   Keyboards,Vocals
Andi Sex Gang   Vocals,Xylophone
Stiv Bators   Vocals
Captain Sensible   Guitar,Keyboards
Cosey Fanni Tutti   Guitar,Vocals,Tape
Youth   Bass,Vocals
Pandora   Drums
Rozz Williams   Vocals
Bernard Albrecht   Guitar
Ian Astbury   Vocals
Jay Aston   Guitar
Michael Aston   Vocals
Blixa Bargeld   Guitar,Vocals
Paul Barker   Bass
George Belanger   Drums
Peter Bonas   Guitar
Mick Brown   Drums
Mark Brzezicki   Drums
Nick Chown   Bass
Peter Christopherson   Tape,Machines
Mark Chung   Bass
Paul Jay Clark   Keyboards
Jaz Coleman   Keyboards,Vocals
Matt Cope   Guitar
Ian Curtis   Vocals
Paul B. Cutler   Guitar,Keyboards,Vocals
Glenn Danzig   Vocals
Billy Duffy   Guitar
F.M. Einheit   Machines
Andrew Eldritch   Vocals
Tom Ellard   Tape
Mark Francombe   Guitar
Elizabeth Fraser   Vocals
Simon Gallup   Bass
Genesis P-Orridge   Bass,Clarinet,Violin,Vocals
Marcus Gilvear   Drums
Robin Guthrie   Guitar
Alexander Hacke   Guitar
Douglas Hart   Bass
Mick Harvey   Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Percussion,Vocals,Vibes
Kevin Haskins   Drums
Simon Hinkler   Guitar
Peter Hook   Bass
Wayne Hussey   Guitar,Vocals
Brian James   Guitar,Background Vocals
Jourgensen   Guitar,Vocals
Jan Kalicki   Drums
Jon Klein   Guitar,Vocals
Nick Marsh   Guitar,Vocals
Patrick Mata   Guitar,Vocals
Ian McCulloch   Guitar,Vocals
James McGearty   Bass
John McGeoch   Guitar
Kevin Mills   Bass,Vocals
Ronny Moorings   Guitar,Keyboards,Vocals
Nivek Ogre   Synthesizer,Voices
Jerry Only   Bass
Pattinson   Bass
Brendan Perry   Guitar,Vocals
Tracy Pew   Bass
Kid Congo Powers   Guitar
Chris Reed   Guitar,Vocals
Jim Reid   Guitar,Vocals
William Reid   Guitar
Pete Rizzo   Bass,Piano
Will Sergeant   Guitar
Rat Scabies   Drums
Steven Severin   Bass,Guitar,Keyboards
Robert Smith   Guitar,Keyboards,Vocals
Paul Statham   Guitar,Keyboards
James Stevenson   Guitar,Keyboards
Trevor Tanner   Guitar,Vocals
Laurence Tolhurst   Drums
Dave Tregunna   Bass,Background Vocals
Dave Vanian   Vocals
Algy Ward   Bass
Anka Wolbert   Bass,Vocals
Tim Wright   Bass
Thomas Wydler   Drums
Machine   Drums
cEvin Key   Synthesizer,Bass,Percussion,Drums,Tape,Metal Percussion
Siouxsie Sioux   Guitar,Vocals,Toy Piano
Eddie Branch   Bass
Terl Bryant   Percussion,Drums
Mark Burgess   Bass,Vocals
Paul Ferguson   Drums
John Lever   Drums
Manuela Rickers   Guitar
Don Wright   Drums
Mrs. Fiend   Keyboards
Craig Adams   Bass
Gary Marx   Guitar
Richard Steel   Guitar
Ben Gunn   Guitar
Will Heggie   Bass
Nigel Preston   Drums
Rob Graves   Bass,Vocals
Don Bolles   Drums
Donna McKevitt   Vocals
Peter Yates   Guitar,Keyboards
Trevor Sharpe   Drums
Kelly McCusker   Viola
Ben Golomstock   Guitar
Carl McCoy   Vocals
Matt Chaikin   Drums
Wolfgang Ellerbrock   Bass
Nik Fiend   Vocals
Arthur Googy   Bass
Davey Havok   Vocals
Anja Huwe   Vocals
Tony Pettitt   Bass
N.U. Unruh   Percussion
Manuela Zwingman   Drums
Fiona Sangster   Keyboards
Alison Shaw   Bass,Vocals
Reg Smithies   Guitar
Dave Fielding   Guitar
Dinah Cancer   Vocals
Tom Ashton   Guitar
Sean Brennan   Bass,Guitar,Keyboards,Vocals
Olli Wisdom   Vocals
Adam Carson   Drums
Jonathan Trevisick   Drums
Chris Carter   Keyboards,Tape,electronics
Leon Phillips   Bass
James Mitchell   Drums
Douglas Avery   Drums
Loz Elliott   Bass
Terry MacLeay   Guitar
Phillip Morris   Vocals
Rob Stroud   Drums
Barry Jepson   Bass
Anne Marie Hurst   Vocals
Chris Oldroyd   Drums
Rosie Garland   Vocals
Simon Denbigh   Vocals
Lyndon Scarfe   Keyboards
David Burrows   Guitar
Haq Quereshi   Drums
Mary D'Nellon   Percussion
Michael Areklett   Bass
Chris "Poet" Wilson   Bass
John J. Moore   Drums
Cleo Murray   Vocals
Paul Wright   Guitar
Nod Wright   Percussion,Drums,Keyboards
Hunter Burgan   Bass
Dave-Id Busaras   Vocals,Track Performer
Mark Blackwelder   Guitar
Andy Delany   Vocals
William H. Duffy   Guitar
Mick Harvy   Guitar,Drums
Hundred Men   Track Performer
Kevin Kitner   Bass
Paul Lawford   Percussion
Nicol McKay   Bass
Kyle McKeough   Background Vocals
Tony Pettit   Bass
Dave Roberts   Bass
Glenn Schultz   Guitar
Doyle VonFrankenstein   Guitar
Dave Wolfenden   Guitar
Pieter Nooten   Keyboards,Vocals
Jim Shaw   Guitar,Piano,Drums
Katherine Blake   Keyboards
Rowland S. Howard   Guitar
Budgie   Organ,Synthesizer,Guitar,Percussion,Drums,Singing Bowls
Jamie Stewart   Bass,Strings,keyboard bass

Technical Credits

Rikk Agnew   Composer
Bauhaus   Producer
Nick Cave   Composer
Cocteau Twins   Composer
Creatures   Producer
Dead Can Dance   Composer
Einstürzende Neubauten   Producer
Mick Karn   Composer
Killing Joke   Composer,Producer
Love and Rockets   Composer,Producer
Peter Murphy   Composer,Author
Colin Newman   Producer
Skinny Puppy   Composer
Southern Death Cult   Composer
Throbbing Gristle   Composer
Virgin Prunes   Composer
Xymox   Composer
Daniel Ash   Composer,Producer,Author
Fields of the Nephilim   Composer,Producer
Kommunity FK   Composer
Miranda Sex Garden   Composer
Rose of Avalanche   Composer
Andi Sex Gang   Composer,Author
Stiv Bators   Composer
Danse Society   Composer
Lords   Producer
March Violets   Composer
Tim Rose   Composer
Rubicon   Producer
Barrett Strong   Composer
Xmal Deutschland   Composer
Craig Leon   Producer
Bonnie Dobson   Composer
Rozz Williams   Composer
Roger Armstrong   Producer
Ian Astbury   Composer
Jay Aston   Composer
Michael Aston   Composer
Paul Barker   Composer,Programming
Hugh Brown   Art Direction
Mick Brown   Composer
Steve Churchyard   Producer
Glenn Danzig   Composer
Joy Division   Composer
Billy Duffy   Composer
Phil Durr   Liner Notes
Andrew Eldritch   Composer,Producer
Tom Ellard   Producer,Digital Sampling
Mark Freegard   Producer
John Fryer   Producer
Simon Gallup   Composer
Lisa Gerrard   Producer
Mick Glossop   Producer
Nigel Gray   Producer
Jeremy Green   Producer
Robin Guthrie   Author
Stephen Hague   Producer
Martin Hannett   Producer
Mick Harvey   Composer
Kevin Haskins   Composer,drum programming
Simon Hinkler   Composer
Wayne Hussey   Composer,Author
Brian James   Composer
Tony James   Producer
Gareth Jones   Producer
Hugh Jones   Producer
Jourgensen   Programming
Paul Kendall   Producer
John Loder   Producer
Hypo Luxa   Producer
Gary Lyons   Producer
Patrick Mata   Composer
Richard Mazda   Producer
Ian McCulloch   Composer
Kevin Mills   Composer
Ronny Moorings   Author
Nivek Ogre   Composer
Tim Palmer   Producer
Hermes Pan   Producer
Pattinson   Composer
Brendan Perry   Producer
John Punter   Producer
Chris Reed   Composer
William Reid   Producer
Colin Richardson   Producer
Bill Rieflin   Composer
Pete Rizzo   Composer
Simon Rogers   Producer
Will Sergeant   Composer
Paul Statham   Composer
Trevor Tanner   Composer
Porl Thompson   Composer
Laurence Tolhurst   Composer
Dave Vanian   Composer,Author
Andrew Warwick   Producer
Norman Whitfield   Composer
Boris Williams   Composer
Pete de Freitas   Composer
Ghost Dance   Composer
Mike Hedges   Producer
cEvin Key   Programming,Digital Sampling,Sequencers
Mark Burgess   Composer
John Lever   Composer
Derek Tompkins   Producer
Mrs. Fiend   Author
Craig Adams   Composer
Roger O'Donnell   Composer
Lol Tolhurst   Composer
Thom Wilson   Producer
Patricia Morrison   Author
Jean Krikorian   Art Direction
Don Bolles   Composer
Carl McCoy   Author
Paul Cuttler   Producer
Nik Fiend   Composer,Author
Davey Havok   Author
Alison Shaw   Composer,Author
Reg Smithies   Composer
Dave Fielding   Composer
Steve Brown   Producer
Dinah Cancer   Composer
Sean Brennan   Composer
Ivo   Producer
Dave Thompson   Liner Notes
Sue Lott   Liner Notes
Paul Wright   Composer
Mick Mercer   Liner Notes
Brian Ogre   Author
Alice Calamar   Package Development
Liz Goodman   Liner Notes
Nod Wright   Composer
Dirk Slik   Discographical Annotation
Andy Delany   Composer
Lizard Kings   Producer
Kai MacTane   Liner Notes
Scary Lady Sarah   Liner Notes
Jim Shaw   Composer
Katherine Blake   Composer
Liz Goodman   Audio Production

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A Life Less Lived: The Gothic Box 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago