FIRST ISSUED ON CREATION RECORDS IN JUNE 1988, THE EPONYMOUSLY TITLED DEBUT ALBUM FROM THE HOUSE OF LOVE DIDN’T QUITE FIT ITS TIMES.
Now re-released by Cherry Red Records as a roomy three disc extension (topped up by all contemporaneous singles, b-sides and associated rarities, plus previously unavailable solo and band demo versions, alternate studio takes and live runs totalling four-and-a-half times the original album’s 32-minutes), THE HOUSE OF LOVE opens its doors with the intense CHRISTINE.
A Jesus And Mary Chain wall-of-sound drone bleeds its way out through guitarist Terry Bickers’ menacing pick-ups, as songwriter Guy Chadwick’s multi-tracked and generally semi-detached vocals scream occasional moments of lustful engagement: “You’re in deep” he warns.
When the brooding start-point collides with an uptight middle-eight guitar, echoes of Bowie’s anaemic and coldly off-kilter Berlin period can be heard.
It’s a beautifully submerged feeling the band recapture on the bleakly ebbing LOVE IN A CAR. SALOME is frenetic and pulsing, recalling the urgency of 13th Floor Elevators, while ROAD travels some way towards the next album’s SHAKE AND CRAWL. Both HOPE and MAN TO CHILD sound as poignant and romantically melodic as they did almost 25 years ago.
Such was the confident mood of the day, outstanding singles SHINE ON and DESTROY THE HEART were left off THE HOUSE OF LOVE. The former would eventually shine brighter in re-recorded Top 20 form (and on the untitled 1990 major label album known as ‘Butterfly’). The latter, a spidery bastard cousin to Echo & The Bunnymen’s THE PUPPET and U2’s I WILL FOLLOW, is all amphetamine guitar lines, xylophone chimes and powerhouse drums underpinning driving verses, dramatic choruses and windmilling instrumental sections.
In some ways the band was a gothic – but not Goth – Lloyd Cole & The Commotions: urbane and literate frontman with a propensity for black-and-white existentialism playing off against an outstanding guitarist acting as a polluting colourant. They should have been massive.
The House Of Love self-assuredly perverted all the right credible and interesting foundations, channelling Leonard Cohen, The Velvet Underground and late-1960s American psychedelic acid-rock – but, perhaps, Bickers and Chadwick were too exotic and intimidating a drug for the prevailing unambitiously weedy mood of post-C86 UK indie. Time spent in THE HOUSE OF LOVE felt like it could have ended with doors of perception kicked in.
It remains a misplaced and magnificent debut, still playing like an upturned stepping stone on the path between a cracked underworld and the majestic bohemian sprawl of the band’s masterpiece, their next album.