Music for a Monday: Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone provided classic Gothic rock, not far from the model established by the Sisters, the Mission and the March Violets. They followed in the footsteps of Andrew Eldritch’s own Doktor Avalanche with a drum machine dubbed Madame Razor. I don’t make the Sisters comparisons to  belittle. There are worse influences to have, and the music that resulted is undoubtedly enjoyable if you’re a fan of Gothic rock. Singer Porl King has a smooth and wonderful voice that reminds me of Daniel Ash at his best.  But for some reason, Rosetta Stone never got much attention from the scene. Unlike the Sisters, Rosetta Stone never tried to dodge the “Goth” label. I recall sending off to Cleopatra Records for a Rosetta Stone sticker that said something along the lines of “It’s a Goth thing, you wouldn’t understand.” Rosetta Stone put out three full albums and a handful of EPs before disappearing completely. Part of what may account for this band’s brief life is timing. Their first album, An Eye For the Main Chance, came out in 1991. As the Goth scene picked up more influences from Industrial and EBM throughout the 90s, Gothic Rock fell to the side. Rosetta Stone experimented with electronic music elements, but never let those engulf the rock core of the sound, which may have led to their marginalization. The band announced their dissolution at the 1998 Whitby festival. I can’t help but think that if Rosetta Stone had been putting out records in 1981 rather than 1991, they’d be in the Gothic pantheon alongside The Sisters, The Fields of the Nephilim, Christian Death  and so on.

Cleopatra Records included this song in at least one of their Gothic Rock compilations. This is one of the few original music videos I have been able to find for this band. They certainly had the look down. That crimped hair is magnificent:

As it turns out, this is a cover of a song by a 60s German psychedelic act:

Very early version of Six Before Dawn:

Live footage. The sound isn’t great:

Another video, though it’s quite poor quality. The sound is pretty good on this one, though:

Unerotica was Rosetta Stone’s cover album. They did very interesting things with other songs on this album, and I consider it among my favorites. Here’s their version of Heaven 17’s “Temptation”:

Gary Numan’s “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?”:

Bronski Beat’s “Smalltown Boy”:

There’s an unofficial information site if you’d like to know more about this band at www.rosetta-stone-info.co.uk

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One Response to “Music for a Monday: Rosetta Stone”

  1. Porl King’s new project is “miserylab” and I have his last 2 albums which harken back to Rosetta Stone musically but have a more political angle as far as the lyrics go. Worth checking out the mp3s at least.

    Oh man, “The Witch” video is awesome. I want to start pulling taffy any time I hear it.

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