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  • Love
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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 21 April 2017
Love, Roddy Frame's third album under the Aztec Camera moniker, was his most shamelessly pop album to date. With a multitude of producers, some of whom had enjoyed massive success with other artists, this album feels like it was a concerted attempt to hit the big time after the mixed reaction to second album, Knife. It's the kind of production that means you can put the album on and ask a listener unfamiliar with the music to name when it was released and they'll probably get it right, within a year or two. This is Frame's big, glossy, shiny pop record and, to a certain extent, it worked. The magnificent Somewhere In My Heart was Aztec Camera's first top ten hit and it still remains, to this day, their biggest selling album. You don't, however, find many Frame fans who will name this as their favourite albums; quite the opposite, in fact, many talk in terms of disappointment in the kind of direction he took his music, especially those who champion High Land, Hard Rain. My opinion of Love is mixed; there are quite a few songs on the album I really love, but there are also moments that, for me, don't have the honest, heartfelt quality that attracts me to Roddy's music. Add to that the dated eighties feel and it's a bit of a mixed bag, but, my word, the high points really are magnificent, so I tend to regard Love warmly and will often reach for it if I fancy listening to a bit of Aztec Camera.

I often think of album opener Deep And Wide And Tall as an excellent track struggling to break free of over complicated Russ Titelman production, but it is a lovely, romantic piece (the lyric “She's love's ambassadress” always makes me smile) and starts the record on a really positive note. How Men Are boasts a remarkable, sensitive lyric and a pretty melody, but it also has background music that wouldn't be out of place on a Whitney Houston number; thankfully there is a grounded, soulful Frame guitar solo to bring it down to earth a little. The first track to grate on me is Everybody Is A Number One, with the fake synth brass, the quasi-Caribbean drums and the dialled-in performances; it doesn't actually sound as if Roddy himself believes in this track. More Than A Law, thankfully, is much better, with the more sparse production giving the vocals space to breathe and the lyrics in the chorus (“We make love in the face of it all/feel the freedom and the purity”) really tugging the heart strings too.

The biggest selling single of Roddy Frame's career, Somewhere In My Heart, was justifiably successful; for me, it's one of the greatest pop songs ever written, a helping of pure genius with the combination of almost maddeningly catchy music and edgy, yet beautifully romantic lyrics. Most really good songs will have at least one killer line, but Somewhere In My Heart was a whole handful of them. “Ambition and love wearing boxing gloves/and singing hearts and flowers”, “A star above the city in the northern chill/A baby being born to the overkill” and, of course, “Somewhere in my heart/There is a star that shines for you/Silver splits the blue/Love will see you through”. How gorgeous is that? Those four lines often make my eyes mist over. Also, just before Frame's glorious, euphoric electric guitar solo he delivers the fantastic lines, “The one thing that's understood/Is that you can't buy time/But you can sell your soul/And the closest thing to heaven is to rock and roll”; it's about as close to blissful pop perfection as any songwriter has reached.

Working In A Goldmine, a classic soul-inspired track, has the unenvied task of following Somewhere In My Heart, but it is a pleasant, easy-on-the-ears composition that offers something completely different to that epic pop number and, therefore, works very well. One And One, sadly, is easily the weakest song on the whole album. It is a very ordinary composition that has been given a hideous arrangement and extremely dated pop production with some effects that sound positively jarring listening to them today. Paradise is merely listenable and, after One And One, it really sounds as if the quality on Love has faded towards the end. Fortunately, it is then we get one of the true gems on the record, the sensational Killermont Street. Like the “Down The Dip” of the album, Roddy's ode to his home city is wonderfully pure, honest and genuine; it's a tear-inducing indictment to the de-industrialisation of Glasgow (“As the ships and the steel/slip away to the cry of 'compete'”) and the effects on its inhabitants (“Whisky words tumble down in the street/With the pain that they cure”) and some frank self-realisation (“And with collar upturned/I made it south to see/That the love I had spurned/Was just the hate in me”). Killermont Street is, in my opinion, amongst the very best songs Roddy Frame has ever written.

Summing up Love is quite difficult. There are some very good songs indeed, there are a couple of utterly magnificent pieces and, yet, there are at least two songs which really aren't that great at all. Much of it is marred by over-production and yet, in the case of Somewhere In My Heart, the shimmering production is part of what makes the song so great. It's an album full of contradictions, but I can't help but finish listening to it and, especially as it ends with Killermont Street, be given the overall impression that I've just listened to a really terrific album, despite the flaws and handful of uninspiring tracks. No, it's not a masterpiece, but it does contain two of the best songs you will ever probably hear in your life and quite a few others that are unmistakeably excellent Roddy Frame compositions. All-in-all, I'm able to forgive Love for its flaws and, although it will never be my favourite Aztec Camera album, it's still one I will speak about in very warm terms, despite its imperfections.

Thoughts about the bonus disc:

The edition of this album I own is the two disc 2012 Rhino re-issue, which comes in a hardback sleeve, has a glossy booklet, featuring artwork, photos, full lyrics and a very enjoyable essay about the album by Terry Staunton. The second disc contains ten bonus tracks, five of which are different mixes or remixes of album tracks (Deep And Wide And Tall, Somewhere In My Heart, Everybody Is A Number One and Working In A Goldmine), plus three live tracks (Killermont Street, Pillar To Post and I Threw It All Away) and two 'B'-sides (Bad Education and The Red Flag). Bad Education is an enjoyable, interesting track which doesn't suffer from the over-production that is a characteristic of the main album and Red Flag is a rather moving, yet sparse, piano-driven version of the traditional socialist song. The live rendition of Killermont Street is truly lovely and the version of Pillar To Post, both recorded in Los Angeles on December 8th, 1987, is effortlessly enjoyable. The remixes are very difficult to like, unfortunately, especially the horrible regurgitation of Somewhere In My Heart that is the 12” mix. The live version of Bob Dylan's I Threw It All Away, recorded in Bristol in 1988, is perfectly nice, but it's a rather straight guitar and voice interpretation of it, so isn't anything particularly special. To surmise, the bonus disc is another mixed offering that may be very interesting to completists, but isn't something that even the most ardent Aztec Camera fan would want to play that often.
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on 10 February 2016
I bought this CD as I remembered it being one of my favourite in my teenage years. Took me right back there, love Roddys voice and amazingly once I started the CD all the words came flooding back.
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on 14 August 2017
Great album by a musical genius! Loved it when it was first released and still love it now.
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on 14 September 2017
Very good - thanks
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on 29 September 2012
I love music and have a massive cd collection to prove it (25,000+)

When Demon announced that they would be remastering Aztec Camera i was glad in a way but not in another, because i have brought remastered reissues in the past and they have been a hit or a miss ie using mp3 or a vinyl version etc.

When i received this i played the first cd which sounded brilliant but noticed that on the 2nd cd wrongly named track and so on.

I got intouch with Demon who were aware of the issue and had my name and address off me and sent me the very next day a corrected cdr of cd2 and they told me that once it gets redone they will send me a proper 2nd cd.

The cdr sounds brilliants and correct track versions, so if you are afraid of buying this cd, buy it then get intouch with demon they send a replacement cd that will fix the problem.
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on 13 April 2015
Originally bought this on cassette to play in the car on holiday in the early 90's. It is a classic , what I would describe as British soft rock similar to Prefab Sprout and The Beautiful South . In my opinion there isn't a bad or 'filler' track on the whole album. One great song just flows into another. I have it on CD but being a vinyl nut I am about to buy it again ( someone borrowed it ! ) on vinyl.
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on 28 September 2003
Aztec Camera to most would take a back seat in their cd collection, and if asked would only be able to name at best two of their songs. Although they produced some gems which would knock spots of the so called music they produce in today's music market. Ok, so I am biased when it comes to the eighties, but I feel that Aztec Camera need to get some further acclaim as I review one of their more well-known albums and that is 'Love' For those who are diving for their cd collections, it's the cd cover with the picture of the horses on a carousel.
A little history about Aztec Camera, well they were formed back in 1980 by Roddy Frame and were a Scottish group that originated from East Kilbride. But you'd hardly notice the Scottish accent coming through on the songs, the lead singer has a powerful, enhancing voice which will have you crooning away to!
The other members are Campbell Owens (bass) and Dave Mulholland (drums) and David Ruffy, Bernie Clarke (keyboards) They were signed to Rough Trade Records when they moved to London in 1982. The album Love was released back in 1987, unbeliveably, some sixteen years ago now. Which featured two UK hit singles How Men Are reaching number twenty five in the charts and the well-known song Somewhere In My Heart reaching number three. Whilst the album itself climbed to number ten in the UK album chart list.
Their first album was Highland Hard Rain in 1983. The band toured Europe and America and later on in 1984/85 touring the world
1984 saw their second album 'Knife" then in 1987 'Love'
The album was a small one, with just nine songs, but most if not all ballads, whereas Somewhere in my heart would be the most well-known hit on the album, the others are well worth a listen to and easy to sing or croon along to!
Deep & Wide and Tall
The first of the many ballads of the album, starts off the love album, a song dedicated to 'my girl', a clearly romantic song, with simple but great catchy lyrics, most of the songs are slow and slushy!
How Men Are
Probably the second most popular hit after Somewhere in my heart, the song starts off 'It's called love…' once again powerful lyrics: why should it take the tears of a woman to see how men are? Very true and ultimately slushy! Overall a mellow song with great background music
Everybody Is A Number One
Bouncy intro to this song. That day will come whenever, everybody is a number one…. Jumpy and bouncy track and will definitely have you singing along to it!
More Than A Law
This is a very slow ballad, great intro to it 'we make love in the face of it all, feel the freedom and the purity' definitely some powerful, thought provoking lyrics.
Somewhere In My Heart
This one is on everyone's lips, as soon as you mention Aztec Camera, and reaching number three in the charts it isn't hard to understand why! A brilliant love song, that left its trail on the music world. Very very catchy and the lyrics, oh so potent… 'Somewhere in my heart there is a star that shines for you!'
Working In A Goldmine
This track strikes me a sad song 'our love's the sound of broken skies' listen carefully to the lyrics on this one, as the background music is faint, one of the slowest ballads on the album, ideal for lying in your lovers arms! Now who's been slushy!
One And One
Another jumpy, bouncy little number 'when I close my eyes to trouble, baby I see you' oh so catchy and you need to listen to it to appreciate the true power of the lyrics.
'I've been searching seems like so long for perfection in a world made wrong' a nice slushy little number, which foretells Paradise: a million miles away! As you close your eyes to this track, you feel you are taken a million miles away along with your lover.
Killermont Street
'Drink a drink to before and our memories spill…. A very slow ballad, where you need to listen to the lyrics as the music plays faintly in the background. As the album draws to a close, it finishes off on a slow sad song, but by then you and your lover have fallen asleep in each others arms!
Whispers: Thanks for reading!
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on 21 April 2007
I've had this album on vinyl for a long while and am finally upgrading it to CD because i miss listening to it... Highland Hardrain is a constant on my CD player and this album, although very different, is much better than the previous album, Knife, and well worth a listen. Give it a go if you've got any interest in Aztec Camera, although it's their more commercial side. Also try Highland Hardrain.
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on 14 September 2012
Oh dear. The whole idea of reissues, deluxe or otherwise, for great 80s music continues to be something of a bad joke.

Edsel, who have previous in this department it has to be said, have sadly made a right mess of this wonderful album from 1987. Reissuing the Aztec Camera catalogue is a noble idea, and a very welcome one, but despite the glossy hardback packaging there is very little to recommend any of the titles in the series.

Love was originally released on 9th November 1987 by WEA, 9 songs clocking in at a little over 37 minutes. CD1 of this new edition is identical, both in content and - to these ears - sound. It bears all the hallmarks of an 80s-mastered disc, much quieter than today's fashions dictate, and a very flat sound that only those who grew up with will be used to. While it's perhaps a blessing that the album hasn't been a victim of loudness for loudness' sake, it means the bonus material on the second CD really has to justify the price-tag for owners of the original.

Unfortunately, the second CD is where the biggest problem lies. The listed "Sax Mix" of Working In A Goldmine has been erroneously replaced by the same version of the song which is on the first disc. The "Breakdown Mix" of Deep & Wide & Tall sounds highly compressed, as though taken from an inferior source. Vinyl, quite probably, but any clicks have been removed. The 12" version of Somewhere In My Heart is really the only bonus track to sound bright, sharp and not crudely edited.

So, for the price of a brand new album, you get the same version of a very short CD released 25 years ago, plus barely 40 minutes of extra music including a repeated track by mistake and some mixes which sound rather murky.

Not good enough at all. What a shame.
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on 23 August 2013
I had originally purchased one of the Greatest Hits collections for the hits (obviously) and the nostalgia but fell in love with every track,so decided to put my toe in the water to see what their albums were like by buying "Love".
It is quite simply a joy. The songs are brilliantly written and arranged and I love Roddy Frame's vocals.From the opening track "Deep & Wide & Tall" to the finale "Killermont Street" I am just wallowing in pleasure every time I listen to this album. I don't know what took me so long.
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