A NEW BOX SET VERSION OF THE HOUSE OF LOVE’S EPONYMOUSLY TITLED 1988 DEBUT ONCE AGAIN REVEALS THAT THE ALBUM DIDN’T QUITE FIT ITS TIMES.
Released in limited quantity by Optic Nerve, the UK label specialising in desirable deluxe editions of Indie and Alternative favourites from the 1980s / 90s, the five disc vinyl set replicates the comprehensive tracklisting of 2012’s three-CD reissue by Cherry Red. A remastered version of the original ten-track album (first released by Alan McGee’s Creation) is complemented by four discs containing all contemporaneous singles – notably REAL ANIMAL and the original mix of SHINE ON – plus associated b-sides, rarities, and previously unreleased solo and band demos, alternate takes and live runs, including an incendiary version of The Stooges’ I WANNA BE YOUR DOG.
Such was the confident mood at Creation in 1988, outstanding single DESTROY THE HEART was left off THE HOUSE OF LOVE, despite topping John Peel’s Festive Fifty. A spidery bastard cousin to Echo & The Bunnymen’s THE PUPPET and U2′s I WILL FOLLOW, The House Of Love’s fourth single was all amphetamine guitar lines, xylophone chimes and powerhouse drums underpinning driving verses, dramatic choruses and windmilling instrumental sections.
A wall-of-sound drone bleeds from guitarist Terry Bickers during album opener CHRISTINE (also a single), as songwriter Guy Chadwick’s multi-tracked semi-detached vocals break loose to scream lustful engagement: “You’re in deep” he warns. The intense start-point collides with a cold and uptight middle-eight, echoing Bowie’s anaemic and off-kilter Berlin period.
It’s a bleak and submerged feeling the band recapture in the ebb of LOVE IN A CAR. SALOME is frenetic and pulsing, recalling the urgency of 13th Floor Elevators, while ROAD travels some way towards the percussive twang of the following album’s SHAKE AND CRAWL. Both MAN TO CHILD and HOPE sound as hopeless and poignant as they did 25 years ago.
The band twisted all of the right credible and interesting foundations for its debut, channelling The Velvet Underground, Leonard Cohen, Jesus And Mary Chain and late-1960s American acid-bleached rock. But guitar pyrotechnician Bickers and ambitious Chadwick were perhaps far too exotic and intimidating a drug for the prevailing unambitiously weedy mood of post-C86 UK indie. Time spent wandering the bohemian hallways of The House Of Love felt like it could have ended with doors of perception kicked in. THE HOUSE OF LOVE remains a flawed but magnificent exercise in unravelling and intense English psychedelia. Optic Nerve’s masterful Deluxe Vinyl Edition pays it the respect it deserves.
50 Tracks over 5 discs
Pressed on 180gram heavyweight black vinyl
Housed in individual outer sleeves
Presented in casewrapped foil printed box
With 20 page 12” colour booklet
Available from Optic Nerve, here.
Guy Chadwick and Terry Bickers featured in The Mouthcast earlier in 2013. Listen again, here.
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