11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 12 February 2002
I can't add anything more to what has been said already here regarding the general ignorance shown to this band by the music press and general public but what I can add are my thoughts on this collection.
Contained on here are some of the finest moments in English pop music of the eighties. Guitar driven by the excellent Terry Bickers, this is far away from what we know pop today. This is proper music. The House of Love existed in between the end of The Smiths and the start of The Stone Roses. They filled an important gap, but they were more than just a filler group. They should have been bigger than the Roses, I'm not saying they were better, just that they should have been in such a high position by the time the Roses came that they would have eclipsed them.
'Shine On', here in its original glory, is just a perfect moment in British pop music, it just doesn't get better than this. Excellent guitar, stirring melodies and the lyrical genius and vocals of Guy Chadwick combine to make this one of my favourite songs of all time. 'Destroy the Heart' reached the top of John Peels' 'Festive Fifty' in 1988, so therefore it should be no surprise that it is one hell of a pop song. 'Salome' and 'Happy' continue in the same fast-paced, hook-laden guitar style.
But there are quieter moments on this album too. Quiet love songs, soft melody tracks, songs about pain and frustration. So all in all a perfect combination and the voice of Andrea, their German female co-vocalist provides a perfect counter-balance to Guy's on certain songs, she even gets to sing a song by herself and it's pretty good stuff too.
For all fans of guitar pop like The Smiths and The Stone Roses, give this album a go. When I listen to the House of Love I sometimes like to describe them as a mix between Echo and the Bunnymen and James, if there can be such a thing! So fans of these two groups may also like to take a look. For people like me who followed the House of Love avidly then this is a great addition to our collections.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 26 June 2001
Strange to reflect that they were slated at the time for being Velvet Underground copyists (they even had the expendable female German vocalist a la Nico) as over a decade's hindsight reveals this volatile bunch to be genuinely worthy of comparisons with the avant-garde masters. While the recording quality of the earliest of these tracks is noticeably low-fidelity (hence justifiable decision to re-record numbers such as 'Shine On' and 'Blind' later down the road) the energy and invention always burns through. The blistering 'Salome', the heartbreaking 'Love in a Car', the taut and edgy instrumental 'Love' - all bear witness to a band feverish with ability and imagination.
They should have been massive, of course. Huge. Killer riffs, sublime melodies, stylish songwriting, fire in the soul. Top Ten singles, widespread adulation. When the last Creation single 'Destroy the Heart' made number one in Peel's Festive Fifty in 1988, devotees assumed they were about to scrape the stratosphere. Instead they proved to be a dry-run for Alan McGee for managing/marketing Oasis, who frankly rip off HoL as much as they do the Fab Four.
We've seen a Best Of, Peel Sessions, B-sides and now Early Recordings albums from HoL, but as anyone who saw them (and I saw them eight times) will testify, what we really want to complete the set is a Live album, and I believe there was an hour-long BBC Radio show which might fit the bill nicely. Come on Strange Fruit...
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 12 July 2006
The House of Love were the great white hope for 80s guitar based bands towards the end of the decade and this album shows why.
In Guy Chadwick and Terry Bickers the band had a magical song writer and guitarist. These songs were all recorded for creation records when the band was at its peak. This record contains some fantastic b sides as well such Mr Jo and On a Hill. If you love the Smiths and Echo and the Bunnymen then you will love this band ! As an introduction this is perfect. Don't buy 'the best of' buy this.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
There was was a gulf between the demise of the Smiths and the rise of Madchester when the music press wondered who would be the new contenders. Morrissey & co were probably on the path to stadium domination, but like Echo & the Bunnymen weren't capable of it - both bands decidely not "the next U2" (though bands like The Cure, Depeche Mode & New Order were...). The House of Love (name from a great novella by Anais Nin), like the Wedding Present, were seen as the new indie gods and possibly "the next U2" - both bands would sign to major record labels and attempt to crossover, though by the time they did, the band that dominated things were The Stone Roses.
This collection features all of the material the House of Love recorded for Alan McGee's Creation label, which was a classic hit and miss indie label until the late 80s when they began to release brilliant albums and singles by the House of Love and peers My Bloody Valentine. Both bands would influence the celebrated 'Shoegazing' scene, a.k.a. the Scene that Celebrates Itself, The House of Love's sound influence apparent on such bands as The Catherine Wheel, Moose, Revolver and Ride. '1986/88- The Creation Recordings' features the classic House of Love line-up of Terry Bickers (guitar), Pete Evans (Drums), Guy Chadwick (vocals/guitar) and Christian Groothuizen (bass); while part of this material features additional guitarist/vocalist Andrea Heukamp. Alongside the classic eponymous album from 1988, this compilation features the singles 'Shine On', 'Real Animal', 'Christine' and 'Destroy the Heart' - 23 tracks from the band's indie peak.
The first 10 tracks are the band's debut LP, do I really need to talk about this? This was the soundtrack to my late Eighties and an album that more than stands up these days - I always thought it was much greater than the one album everyone goes on about from the late 80s - the debut LP from the Stone Roses. An album I could listen to completely anytime, the band taking Guy Chadwick's songs and nailing them perfectly - it's hard to pick out the best songs, I probably like the songs I used to like least back then - 'Fisherman's Tale', 'Man to Child' and 'Touch Me'. 'Sulphur' is a joy showcasing a supremely confident band after the opening salvo of the classic 'Christine', the mid-paced 'Hope' and the melodic guitar riff-driven 'Road.' I always did get lost in the second side, 'Salome' like 'Road' driven by wild guitar riffs, the sublime 'Love in a Car' (really the place where early Ride came from), and 'Happy', which sounds like a fuzzier version of the Bunnymen circa 'Heaven Up Here' (if only the Bunnymen had sounded this good at this point!). A classic album and one that I still play on tape in my car to this day...
The rest of the disc is packed with those other Creation singles and outtakes, including 'Shine On', which was once a mythic thing going for hundreds of pounds in Record Collector, far out of my part-time wage at Waitrose! It was a single that was a bit of a disappointment when eventually heard, I guess it had taken on myth-like qualities in my mind? It might be heathen to say it, but the re-recorded version they had a hit with in 1990 for Fontana, is much better - here it feels like a rough sketch and probably akin to indie work shortly before by The Mighty Lemon Drops and The Weather Prophets.
There is a version here of 'Love', an on-going series of songs with that title, that the band would revisit in b-sides over the next few years - I think several are on compilation 'A Spy in the House of Love' - I'm pretty sure this title/idea was borrowed from Dexys Midnight Runners - I might be wrong though. I always loved the 'Real Animal' single, which some didn't rate at the time - it feels like 'Mr Soul' for the Shoegazing era, the political lyrics feeling hallucinatory and manic, a very underrated single. Flipside 'Nothing to Me' should probably have been the a-side, again this track predicts many a band to come...
The band were expanding their sound, 'Loneliness is a Gun' showcasing Chadwick's folky singer-songwriter credentials alongside songs like 'Man to Child' and 'Touch Me', while Heukamp takes lead vocals for the lovely b-side 'On the Hill.' I always loved this song, and in its own way it probably influenced female-fronted acts of the shoegazing years, notably the Heart Throbs and Lush. The compilation concludes with the classic 'Destroy the Heart'-single, an indie smash and a song like James' 'Sit Down' that made the people in Fontana sign both bands up. Again, the greatness seems obvious - flipside 'Blind', like 'Shine On' would be re-recorded for their 1990 'Fontana' album (like Peter Gabriel, the House of Love had an irritating habit of giving their albums' epoynmous titles!).
This version of the House of Love infamously splintered shortly after, Heukamp and Bickers going one after the other - while Chadwick didn't depend on Bickers the same way that Morrissey did on Marr, there was a spark missing from the House of Love's work without him. The comeback album from a Bickers/Chadwick reunited House of Love was wonderful, if quite overlooked - hope they do another album together. To be fair, the material from the House of Love wasn't that bad - they were probably on the wrong label at the wrong time - the two disc compilation of their 'Fontana Years' is pretty darn great and an ideal companion to this collection. The band are due to perform all of their classic debut for ATP's annual 'Don't Look Back' concerts, so it's an ideal time to remind yourself of it's greatness - let's hope the band decide to tour again, as well as release new material. A great compilation this, one to track down; if only MBV had a similar compilation!!!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 30 July 2001
Expendable German girlie vocalist? Well, yes - but I listen to 'On The Hill' and wonder why they dropped her. Andrea (?) had a voice and style that was a perfect counterpoint to both Terry Bickers's glass-fist riffs and the English wistfulness of Guy Chadwick.
The other blistering tracks on this collection (a nice combination of their first two Creation albums) have to be 'Christine' and 'Salome' which were, coincedentally, the opening tracks of sides 1 & 2 respectively of the vinyl version of HOL's commercial debut.
You just have to buy this album - and consider that we could have been spared those tortured years of a man called Gallagher, who thought he could do it as well as these guys did.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 January 2009
This collection is a fantastic offer, especially for those like me who had the vinyl copies but never wanted to re-buy the individual CDs. Like many other reviewers, I have 'come back' to the House of Love and found it to be an extremely rewarding experience. The eponymous LP is rightfully placed first. The meat of the album is on the LP's second side (`Salome' to `Touch Me'), including the wonderful `Love In A Car': singer-songwriter Guy Chadwick once stated that his intention had been to create beautiful music, with his vocals and lyrics as secondary factors. On `Love In A Car' I think he achieved that (the later 'Girl With The Loneliest Eyes', in my opinion is another such track). Someone else has mentioned the drumming as a weak point, but while it is a bit too thumping on certain tracks, I can't say it's a barrier to enjoyment.
The `German' album follows next - always a godsend to the majority who never got their hands on the first two singles. It has always been a great mystery why so many great HOL songs ended up as B-sides. The haunting `Plastic' (about a man failing to deal with an appalling industrial accident) and `Nothing to Me' are cases in point as B-sides to 'Real Animal', which for an A-side is a bit 'obvious' and nothing special - though a good, energetic live song. The additional `Christine' B-sides are welcomed. `On The Hill' is great, but Chadwick had surely been listening to his self-confessed favourite album, the `Velvet Underground and Nico' that day. Essentially a three-guitar band at this point, Andrea Heukamp's delicate picking to flesh out Chadwick's strumming is a pleasure, and her departure due to the pressures of hectic touring (she wasn't sacked) did slightly remove an idiosyncratic edge. Closing with the `Destroy the Heart' single (a track originally written as a much slower song but intelligently sped up) and B-sides, ends a great collection on a very high note.
Ultimately it is great to see such an interest in the House of Love: Guy Chadwick I think is a man more sinned against than a sinner - he wanted `Shine On' released much later once interested had started, but Alan McGee pushed it out first; `Safe' was uselessly squandered as a B-side to the overproduced, overhyped `Never'. He is a great songwriter but as he himself said, not a good live-guitarist: lead guitarist Terry Bickers had a pivotal role in the band (if you had seen him live on a good night, you'll understand), which also should not be overlooked.
Really, five-plus stars for this album.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 July 2001
One of the greatest bands of the Eighties and one of my all-time favourites, this CD captures the nascent, slightly raw House Of Love, brimming with potential, and the fully realised version which continued beyond this compilation well into the Nineties.
Blending high-octane guitars with the more primitive attack of the Velvet Underground, along with slight traces of Echo and the Bunnymen, the HOL quickly developed a unique style... Their sense of melody never deserted them and songs were classic without ever becoming trad dad-rock. There was a level of sophistication present which trounced the opposition.
As much as Oasis may have a similar melodic thrust, they lack the fully-formed satisfaction of the HOL; Radiohead have that richness but have sold their soul to prog-rock. Listen to 'Sulphur' and hear the blueprint for the title track of 'The Bends'..? In fairness, Radiohead probably owe more to the later Fontana-era HOL, all of which is worth tracking down being equally fantastic.
Guy Chadwick has made one solo album so far, the generally mellow 'Lazy, Soft and Slow' which is lighter than typical HOL but no less pleasing. Apparently, Chadwick played all the guitars in the studio, so although Terry Bickers made an unquestionable contribution to the legendary live HOL experience it is a myth that he was the tortured axe genius responsible for the might of the band.
Buy this album and experience the realisation that although there are some good guitar bands around now, there are no GREAT ones.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 28 June 2001
Possibly one of the most underrated bands of all time. The music is timeless and simply out of this world. This is "Creation Records" at its best. Guy Chadwick where are you now?
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 21 January 2004
for a brief moment before band politics and record companies intervened,they were the band of the moment!This album holds many fond memories for many people of a certain age,but even if you weren't there first time round,listen to "Destroy the heart" and "Christine" and you'll be hooked!
12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
The House of Love's eponymous debut from 1988 (not to be confused with later albums called The House of Love!)was one of the stand-out releases of the late 1980s, ranking next to albums such as Document, Technique, Isn't Anything?, Daydream Nation & Ultra Vivid Scene. This was the era when there were still independent labels, The House of Love were touted as a replacement for The Smiths, alongside The Wedding Present; though The House of Love had far more in common with bands like Echo&the Bunnymen and The Sounds (and would influence bands like Ride, who would also follow them to Creation and become the great hope for a few years...). The House of Love's debut from 1988 is the album that everyone thinks the overrated Stone Roses debut is- a classic indie guitar album (as oppose to a bunch of 60s riffs nicked from Nuggets & lyrics from The Bible!).
It opens with classic single Christine, which is a great example of Guy Chadwick's songwriting and Terry Bickers' sonic-exploration. You can hear why people touted The House of Love as the next Simple Minds or U2, though this idea vanished somewhere around baggy. Other classic songs include Salome, Happy and personal favourite Love in a Car- whose guitars are suitably epic. Chadwick even displays songs that are less band orientated- the closing Fisherman's Tale and Touch Me showing that they didn't need to rely on drones and feedback (unlike Chapterhouse, say...).
The bonus tracks add to an already classic album- the Real Animal single is their attempt at a Mr Soul for the 80s and one that I think is underrated, while the rest of that ep's tracks Plastic & Nothing to Me are just as strong. Great also that the early f*ck version of Shine On is included- at one point this was a rarity, valued at several hundred quid a go in stuff like Record Collector. Perhaps the re-recorded version on the Fontana album that was a hit in 1990 was a bit over-produced compared- this version is a great bonus. There are the two bonus tracks from the Christine single- the acoustic lament Loneliness is a Gun & The Hill- which has lead vocals from Andrea Heukamp that are reminiscent of Nico (and is one of Chadwick's strongest songs). The final tracks are the classic Destroy the Heart single, this was an even better song than Christine- classic jingly-jangly anthemic stuff up there with The One I Love & The Smithereens' The House We Used to Live In. Cheery lyrics that showed the need for dance music also! The final tracks are Blind (which also featured on the debut) and Mr Jo, which is not unlike Orange Juice.
This is a great collection of indie-rock, The House of Love wouldn't quite be the same after- Terry Bickers' losing it & forming prog-rock outfit Levitation. In retrospect there were some good songs that make the budget best of from the Fontana years a sound purchase (such as Hanah, Beatles&Stones, the song they had on 1993's Faraway, So Close! soundtrack); but this is the real deal and certainly does that Proust/Speak, Memory thing for me. Nostalgia...