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.
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