Reissue CDs Weekly: The House of Love, The Clarke & Ware Experiment, Interpol, T. Rex, The Smashing Pumpkins | New music reviews, news & interviews
Reissue CDs Weekly: The House of Love, The Clarke & Ware Experiment, Interpol, T. Rex, The Smashing Pumpkins
Eighties’ indie should-have-beens, synth-pop titans, NYC cool, a Bolan bonanza and too much Mellon Collie
After The Jesus & Mary Chain, The House of Love were Creation Records’ next most-likely sons. Their melodies had an epic sweep, they had a top-notch songwriter in Guy Chadwick and, with Terry Bickers, a fabulous guitarist. Yet, after signing to a major label their potential was never achieved despite regularly packing major venues. Their first, eponymous, album – reissued here, 24 years on – is their finest hour. All that said, as the liner notes reveal, Creation were more convinced stablemates The Weather Prophets were more likely to happen.
While it’s great that The House of Love can reach a new audience, this is a perplexing package. As is the current way, a single album becomes yet another multi-disc set – three here. Everything The House of Love released on Creation occupies two discs along with a few live tracks (the album is on the first), with the third collecting demos and alternate versions. The extras dilute the power of the album, overwhelming its impact. There are brief written introductions from Creation boss Alan McGee and Chadwick dated to 2007 which are presumably recyled. Instead of a contextualising essay, the liner notes are a Q&A with Chadwick and bassist Chris Groothuizen, printed in a wince-inducingly tiny font that’s borderline unreadable. This tribute to a great band and album is not as coherent or deluxe as it ought to be.
Heard now, The House of Love sound as though they ought to have been instantly massive. Chadwick’s lyrics and vocals had an otherworldly detachment which recalled a downer-suffused Ian McCulloch. A fantastic combination. The grand songs shared U2's emotional swell. They weren’t shy about tipping nods to the musical greats of the past. It’s a fair bet Coldplay consciously have The House of Love in their make up. But, as Chadwick makes clear in the interview here, signing with major-label Fontana “was such a mistake”. A nose-to-the-grindstone conquering of America on the back of Fontana’s success with Tears For Fears and Def Leppard was never going to happen. Not built for the pressure, The House of Love were soon history.
The Clarke & Ware Experiment: House of Illustrious
It might not be quite up there with The Travelling Wilburys in the wizened rock relic stakes, but for devotees of synth pop a collaboration between Heaven 17's Martyn Ware and Depeche Mode co-founder Vince Clarke after a decade apart is big news indeed. And you will have to be a big devotee to purchase and listen to all of this limited edition, £79.95, 10-CD set lavishly packaged by designer Malcolm Garrett which consists of two old albums – 1999's Pretentious and 2001's Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle – and eight new releases. The mood is predominantly hypnotic and ambient with samples of dialogue about space exploration briefly spicing things up, but don't panic, it is all deliciously accessible. Clarke clearly still has pop sensibility coursing through his boffin veins. Occasionally the repetitive systems music approach makes it feel as if the duo has simply wedged the record button on and popped out for sandwiches, but who cares when the result is this seductive? Only available through the Clarke & Ware website.
Share this article
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
more New music
An eye-opening look at the Cape Verde’s fusion of West African and Brazilian musical styles
A sense of communion at the North Atlantic festival where rain never stops play
Young band's posthumous release is a fitting epitaph
30 years on, the electro-pop duo still joyously push the show to new places
Further bleak and beautiful ambient-classical-drone textures
The Great Cornish poet set to music
Sensational performance from Lauren Laverne's Wonder Woman
George Thompson's debut is a clever and considered communion of cultures
Another outing for the essential album by Britain’s very own New York Dolls
Subtly original showcasing of saxophone multiphonics
Canadian electronic duo take no prisoners with their third album
Anglo-French duo’s debut is a psychedelic guitar pop masterpiece