House of Love – Shine On (1990), I Don’t Know Why I Love You (1990)


houseoflove230x178By the time I heard of House of Love, they had just broken up. I was in a CD store in Brookline, MA back when I was living in Boston. There was music playing in the store, something wonderful that I’d never heard before. I asked the guy at the counter what it was. He told me it was House of Love. I don’t remember which album it was, maybe A Spy in the House of Love. The copy they were playing was for sale so I bought it. Then I hunted down the rest of the band’s CDs.

There are bands that you like for awhile but then get tired of and eventually stop listening to. House of Love isn’t one of these bands. If you like their music, you’ll always like their music. Over 15 years after I first heard them, I still marvel at how good they were (Are? More on this later). They’re one of my all-time favorite bands.

House of Love formed in London in 1986. The original lineup was:

  • Guy Chadwick (vocals, guitar)
  • Terry Bickers (guitar)
  • Andrea Heukamp (vocals, guitar)
  • Pete Evans (drums)
  • Christian Groothuizen (bass)

There were a number of lineup changes, most notably when Terry Bickers left the band due to a fallout with Guy Chadwick over drugs. The band’s albums are difficult to keep track of, as none of the albums had titles until 1991 (I know this sounds like Spinal Tap but I’m not making this up).

…I was very ambitious, but in a blind way, I have to say. Looking back, I wasn’t sussed enough. I didn’t grasp what had to be done. It was pretty blind. I just had a lot of energy, musical energy, but when it came down to the business of actually developing, consolidating and keeping close as a group, I completely —— up that side of things. And it’s a very, very hard business, and if you are going to be a big star, obviously you need loads of talent, but you’ve got to be very shrewd, or you’ve got to have great management.

Guy Chadwick, 2007 interview

House of Love saw some success in England, with albums and singles reaching the top 40 or just below top 40. The band has never had any success in the United States, where they remain largely unknown.

House of love split up in 1993. Singer Guy Chadwick released one solo album, Lazy, Soft, and Slow.

In 2005, surprising everyone, Chadwick and Bickers reunited for a House of Love album called Days Run Away and a tour of the UK and Ireland.

A new album, House of Love – Live At The BBC was recently released in the UK and is scheduled for American release on April 28, 2009. The CD contains material recorded at BBC Studios between 1991 and 1992.

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This week, we have two featured songs. The first, Shine On, appears on six different albums in different forms. including live. The versions of both songs are from the album known as Butterfly or Fontana.

Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Rattlesnakes (1984)

 

Lloyd ColeLloyd Cole flew under my radar. I’d heard of him, but I wasn’t all that familiar with his music until sometime last year when I bought a couple of his albums, 1984-1989, and Music in a Foreign Language. How’d I miss him? I mean, I currently have 15,122 songs on my hard drive, which works about to about 1,260 albums if you allow for 12 songs on an album. Dunno, I guess it’s just one of those things.

Lloyd is British and currently lives in Massachusetts. His band The Commotions released their first album, Rattlesnakes, in 1984. The video presented here is the title track from the album.

The Commotions released two more albums before disbanding in 1989.

“I made myself write songs because that’s what you had to do if you wanted to be like Marc (Bolan) or David Bowie. My primary motivation was, in retrospect, wanting to be famous, which is quite sad but probably fairly common. Then you get to the point where you have to get a different motivation to carry on. My only goal at first was to be on Top of the Pops and on the cover of the NME.”

Interview, The Guardian, 2004

After moving to New York, Lloyd embarked on a solo career, although he released an album with New York musicians (including Jill Sobule) in 2000 under the name of The Negatives. He contributed one of the memorable tracks on 1991’s Leonard Cohen tribute album I’m Your Fan, with a cover of Chelsea Hotel.

I e-mailed Cole’s management to ask if there was a mailing list notifying fans of upcoming gigs but my e-mail was met with stony silence.

Buy From Amazon.com.

Paul Kelly – Before Too Long (1986)

paul-kellyPaul Kelly has received much recognition in his native Australia—he was inducted into the the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame in 1997. He remains less well-known in the United States, where the current top 20 includes albums by Lady GaGa, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, and the rap “musicians” du jour.

Talk, the first album by Paul Kelly and the Dots, was released in 1981. Subsequent bands and projects include Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls, Paul Kelly and the Messengers, Paul Kelly (solo), Paul Kelly and the Stormwater Boys,
Uncle Bill, Professor Ratbaggy, Paul Kelly and the Boon Companions, and
Stardust Five. Paul co-wrote the hit song Treaty with Aboriginal rock band Yothu Yindi and wrote material for other musicians. He also recorded soundtracks for the films Lantana and One Night the Moon.

…Lyrics are important but the most beautiful lyrics in the world are going to be no good unless you’ve got a decent tune.

Paul Kelly, Dirty Linen Interview, 1992

I had the good fortune to interview Paul during the 1992 Adelaide Festival, after a performance of Funerals and Circuses, a play written by the late Aboriginal playwright Roger Bennett. Paul acted and sang in the play. Here’s a slightly expanded version of the interview, which originally ran in the October/November issue of Dirty Linen.

After I interviewed Paul, he was kind enough to arrange for me to pick up some of his CDs at Mushroom Records in Sydney. When I got back to Boston, where I was living at the time, I listened to the CDs and really enjoyed them. One Sunday, about two weeks after I’d returned from Australia, I decided to go to Tower Records to see if I could find any more of Paul’s music.

I walked into the CD section of the store and although their was a divider with his name on it, they were out of CDs. Back in those days, they were still selling cassette tapes, so I went into the cassette section of the store to see if they had any of Paul Kelly’s albums on cassette.

I saw this guy bending over to pick something off the floor that he must have dropped. All I could see was the top of his head facing me and I thought that from the top of this guy’s head, he looked like Paul Kelly. The guy stood up and my jaw dropped in disbelief—it was him! I’d just interviewed him two weeks earlier in Australia and I ran into him in a record store in Boston, on the other side of the planet. What were the odds of that?

Holy shit,” I said, “It really is a small world.” I asked him what he was doing in Boston and it turned out that he’d played a gig the night before and was still in town. Unfortunately, I hadn’t heard about the gig or I would have gone.

The video presented here is Before Too Long, which appears on the album Gossip.

Colin Hay – Are You Lookin’ at Me? (2007)

colin-hayYou may remember Colin Hay from his days with Men at Work, the pop music darlings of the 80’s. They saw meteoric success, massive overplay, and like a meteor, they crashed and burned.

But Colin never stopped making music. As he says in this song, “I was built to last.” Two appearances on the TV show Scrubs helped rekindle interest in his music.

Zach Braff used to come and see me play at Largo — before he was in Scrubs actually — and had a copy of my album for quite a few years. He then got the gig in Scrubs and said to me one night that he would try and get some of my songs placed in the music.

Colin Hay, Santa Barbara Independent interview

Colin’s wife, Cecilia Noël provides backup vocals on his songs and at his live shows (where she’s notable for her expressive dancing).  She also appears in this video.

Colin makes good music that, for the most part, doesn’t get the exposure that it deserves. The death of rock radio has made it hard for any rock act to get new music heard.

A new album is due out soon.