“For five years, I crisscrossed the country (at my own expense, I want you to know) reviewing everything from Bob Dylan at Wembley (awful) to post-punk bands with silly names I've forgotten in venues without a single one of the emergency exits required by law (often rather good).”
John Peel, remembering his stint as a reviewer for The Observer.
In the midst of almost dying of boredom at Dylan and dicing with death on the toilet venue circuit, Peel saw The House of Love in 1988 and declared it one of the best gigs he’d seen.
I, too, was fortunate enough to see The House of Love in 88 and can confirm it as one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen; My Bloody Valentine played right after (or was it before? It was such a long time ago…and it was mighty loud, my brain’s still rattling) and were similarly amazing.
I very nearly didn’t get into that Doing It For The Kids gig at all, despite getting there several hours early. Being young, naïve and far more decorous than I could ever claim to be now, I declined to enter the scrum that formed when the doors finally opened. In desperation, I asked some strangers – admittedly, ones who I'd clocked had a scam running – who relieved me of five pounds in return for borrowing an AAA sticker.
“Come round the back entrance with us. Anyone ask, just say you’re the roadie for Felt,” one of them said (I think the two gentlemen involved in this scam were members of rock group Blow Up).
The bouncer didn’t ask, so I never got to say with calm authority, “Hands off, ruffian, I’m Felt’s roadie. Excuse me, I have a Fender to tune to ‘jangle’, a crate of beer to quaff, a curry to eat and several dozen keys to attach to a belt loop.” Seeing as I was a schoolboy at the time, I doubt whether I’d have got away with it.
Anyway, I saw The House Of Love twice more the next year. The first time, at Reading, they were sub-par…a couple of months after that, they were terrible. They’d lost all the pull, all the bewitching magic they’d had.
They’d signed to Fontana in 89, you see, at a time when any indie band that signed to a major lost control of their art and was forced to make 'product' that inevitably failed commercially and artistically. Terry Bickers, the architect of the spellbinding live show was gone, the majestic debut Shine On was sanitized and cleaned of its haunting, spectral quality and later re-released, confirming that it was the bland rock band version of The House Of Love (you know, the one that reared its head on the second Creation single Real Animal, the one that you'd hoped had gone away forever) that would stalk the lower reaches of the charts for a couple of years.
But time is a great healer and I’m prepared to forgive Chadwick for numerous crimes, including those against lyric writing – “I don't know why I love you/Your face is a foreign food” anyone? – and think about going to the Don’t Look Back gig where they’ll play their debut album in full.
By the time I decide to go, it’ll probably have sold out. For those of you who are interested in such things, details of the gig and the album reissue are in this press release:
The House Of Love have announced details of the re-issue of their seminal self-titled debut album on 3rd September 2007.
The band are also set to perform the first album in its entirety when they play London’s Koko on 13th September as part of the Don’t Look Back series of gigs.
They are additionally set to re-release a compilation of early singles and rare tracks on September 3rd. This record, also self-titled, was initially released in 1988 as an import only through Rough Trade Europe and collected together the A & B sides of the bands first 2 singles, Real Animal and Shine On, plus some previously un-released tracks. The re-issue will also feature the A & B sides of the band’s seminal single, Destroy The Heart, which didn’t appear on the original album.
The band’s debut long player was first released on Creation Records in 1988 following their much-acclaimed single, Christine. The 10-track album, featuring classic tracks such as Hope, Man To Child & Love In A Car was quickly hailed as one of the definitive independent releases of the late 1980’s.
Long out of print, the re-issue will come lavishly packaged in a card gatefold sleeve featuring the definitive original artwork plus extensive new sleeve notes.
The band re-formed in 2005 to release the warmly received long player, Days Run Away. This incarnation of the House of Love saw original members Guy Chadwick and Terry Bickers re-united for the first time in over a decade. This original line up, also featuring Pete Evans on drums, will perform at the Don’t Look Back show in September.
Starting in 2005, the Don’t Look Back series features bands playing seminal album works in their entirety and the past few years have seen The Stooges perform Fun House, Teenage Fanclub play Bandwagonesque and Ennio Morricone perform some of his most well known film scores.
Tickets for the show are priced at £17.50 and available via http://www.seetickets.com/ or http://www.wegottickets.com/ or through a 24hr CC line on 0870 264 3333.