I LOVE The House of Love folks. There was a lot of great music from the other side of the pond during the late eighties/early nineties, especially from the label Creation Records. House of Love got off to an unbelievable start in 1986 and released two extraordinary studio albums and a string of stunning singles from 1987-1990. Then just that quickly it was over in 1993 after only two more albums and one B-sides collection.
My first exposure to The House of Love was the video for “Christine” on MTV’s 120 Minutes in 1988. That Sunday night program was responsible for introducing me to so much phenomenal music in the late eighties and early nineties and I was riveted to the TV seconds into that video. Lead singer Guy Chadwick’s smooth, almost baritone vocal delivery was matched by work on the guitar from Terry Bickers and Chadwick that brilliantly shimmered, all combining to create a deeply hypnotic state of blissful pop. I was a huge fan of much of the Britpop that was being created at this time; House of Love were right toward the top of that list. I think the very next day after watching that video I was either at ZIA Records or Tower Records to grab the 1988 CD that featured “Christine”. Unbeknownst to me at the time the band had already lost one key member, German guitarist and singer Andrea Heukamp. A German only compilation had already been released in 1987 that featured the band’s first two singles, “Shine On” and “Real Animal”, plus the B-sides associated with those singles. “Christine” was the last song recorded by The House of Love with Heukamp as a full-time member.
I went nuts over the band two years later when the band’s second studio album was released. Like the two previously mentioned albums this disc did not have an official title so all three have the names The House of Love. The German compilation is commonly referred to as The German Album while the 1990 offering is also called The Butterfly Album due to the album cover or Fontana since the band had moved from Creation Records to Fontana by this time. As much as I enjoyed the album with “Christine” The Butterfly Album blew my mind and still does to this day. The disc leads off with the dynamite “Hannah” that possesses one of the most gentle and subtle intros then EXPLODES before calming down again. That song leads right into a remix of “Shine On”, one of the original band’s 1987 singles. This remix was the band’s biggest U.K. hit, topping out at #20. “Never” was another great song but as good as those three songs are, as well as the rest of the album, they all pale in comparison to “I Don’t Know Why I Love You”. One of my all-time favorite songs, “I Don’t Know Why I Love You” to me represents what the perfect pop song should sound like. It really is that good and 26 years later it is still a track I can play over and over and over and it never gets old.
I had one opportunity to see The House of Love live when they opened for Peter Murphy on the Deep tour. That was a fantastic evening. The only problem was the weather, the rains came in and cut the set from House of Love short. If you were there you will remember what a great night that was. The band opened with “Hannah” and I still remember since I was right up front by the moat seeing all the light fixtures swaying in the wind and eventually the rain started. The band still managed to get a few songs in before being ushered off the stage. I was bummed because the rain lasted long enough to where the band could not come out to finish things since Mesa Amphitheatre had a curfew. Peter Murphy came out and played a spectacular show. I just wish I could have seen more House of Love but what little I witnessed live was awesome.
Guy Chadwick and Terry Bickers reformed The House of Love in 2003 and the band has released two studio albums since then. I did buy 2013’s She Paints Words in Red which wasn’t bad but naturally I was longing for the type of work created from 1987-1990. I hope they stick around though, I would jump at the chance to see them in concert again.
Since I was raving about “Hannah” live, here is a clip from that same tour. What wonderful memories!
Album Inspiration: The House of Love (The Butterfly Album)