It's hard to believe Rowland S. Howard was only 50 when he tragically passed away last week from liver cancer. He seemed like he'd been around forever and would possibly live forever. Maybe it was his vampiric looks, or maybe it was the unique and indelible sound of his guitar playing. Most tributes to Howard focus on his time spent in the Birthday Party, and that makes sense since the band was so dramatic and influential. For me, though, his best work came with a band he fronted in the late '80s/early '90s called These Immortal Souls. With Howard's biting guitar, his morose vocals that wept cracked soul, and Epic Soundtracks' epic drumming leading the way, the two albums the band released have become lost classics. With all the drama of old mate Nick Cave's work but none of the overblown grandeur, the music These Immortal Souls created was harrowingly bleak yet somehow uplifting in an odd way.
The group's first album, 1987's Get Lost (Don't Lie), is probably their strongest work, but the follow-up from four years later, I'm Never Gonna Die Again, is almost its equal. Sadly, both albums are so hard to come by that we have no samples to share; you should really try to track them down for yourself, anyway. There is some good video footage of the band, though, so let's roll that instead as we remember how awesome Rowland S. Howard truly was.
As a bonus, here's some footage of Howard and his band in 1999 turning Billy idol's White Wedding into something very dark and menacing!