Published on October 29th, 2018 | by voxx0
The House of Love – The House of Love 30th Anniversary
Their indie classic that arrived just as time was running out for the band is revisited…
2018 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the decisive arrival of acid house and, by association, the recasting of English indie rock along similar lines, a development embodied by the November 1988 release of Happy Mondays’ lysergic Bummed. By implication, then, it’s also three decades since the last breaths of what so-called “baggy” culture shoved to one side: the self-conscious, eternally Velvets-indebted stuff pioneered by The Jesus And Mary Chain, which defined the original aesthetic of Alan McGee’s Creation label and attracted a nationwide fan-cult; all striped ’60s tops, literary affectations and black winklepickers.
This was The House Of Love’s world, and it meant that just as they began to break into the mainstream, they were also fast running out of road. Drink and drugs and internal tensions also led to an implosion spread out over three long years. Before band chief Guy Chadwick and his astral guitar-playing foil Terry Bickers reunited in 2003, the legacy of the band’s definitive line-up was a mere two albums, one of which – 1990’s so-called Butterfly album – is a patchy chronicle of a band losing any clear sense of itself amid a deluge of major record label money.
Their best work remains 1988’s 10-track debut LP recorded for Creation and the singles scattered around it; music which has been reissued before, but besides being released in a new double-vinyl edition, has now been expanded across five CDs, split between a version of the album remastered from the original tapes, plus singles, demos, live material and BBC sessions.
The exhaustiveness of the package is proved by seven versions of their debut single ‘Shine On’, which highlight both strengths and weaknesses: the delicate romanticism at the heart of Chadwick’s solo acoustic version and the fact they tended to begin work on even their best songs by playing them too slowly.
The album itself is held back by a typically flimsy ’80s production, but there’s a beguiling tension and confident artistry in songs such as ‘Love In A Car’ and ‘Man To Child’ – and the influence not just of the Velvets and Doors, but The Cure and (though it was never pointed out at the time) Lloyd Cole. But perhaps the most arresting stuff is on the live disc; not least on five brilliant tracks performed in Paris in October ’88 – full of the sense of a band grasping at incredible possibilities, just as the world turns, and the crowd moves its attention elsewhere.
- By Jake White