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Before shoegaze, there was this Love And Rockets dream-anthem

In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing.

If you were to ask me to list 10 songs of the ’80s that helped set the stage for shoegaze—and I really wish someone would ask me that already—near the top of my list would be Love And Rockets’ “The Dog-End Of A Day Gone By.” Released in 1985 on the band’s debut album, Seventh Dream Of Teenage Heaven (included in the new L&R box set, 5 Albums), “Dog-End” came from out of nowhere. Granted, Love And Rockets itself was already well known in ’85—not as Love And Rockets, but as the three dudes who used to rock behind Peter Murphy in Bauhaus. After Bauhaus’ breakup in ’83, there seemed to be a race between Murphy and his ex-bandmates to prove that one fragment of Bauhaus could outperform the other. Some short-lived projects ensued, including Dalis Car and Tones On Tail, but it was Love And Rockets that had the first true post-Bauhaus breakthrough.

And the band did it by sounding nothing like Bauhaus. Free of Murphy’s magisterial yet controlling death-croon, the members of Love And Rockets struck out in new directions—most notably the trippy path of psychedelia. But unlike the retro-’60s bands of the ’80s, Love And Rockets updated music-aided brain-expansion for a new era. “Dog-End” is an epic example. At a sprawling seven and a half minutes, the song is lush, chiming, and hypnotic—completely unlike the glam-derived goth of Bauhaus. In particular, the Daniel Ash’s guitars are massively melodic, ebbing and flowing through the rhythm like a time-lapse tide. And the vocals from bassist David J are sweet, wavering, and whispery, the mumbled musings of a man caught between waking and sleeping. In other words, it’s a roughly similar sound to the one shoegaze pioneer My Bloody Valentine began using three years later. Regardless of its place in history, though, “Dog-End” remains a stunning, elemental slab of dream-pop—and the first hint of the fluke mainstream success Love And Rockets would have in 1989 with “So Alive.”