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Book Of Love

If the 50s doo wop outfit The MONOTONES still didn’t know “Who wrote the Book Of Love”, then maybe they should consult BOOK OF LOVE’s front-girl Susan Ottaviano, unrelated Ted Ottaviano, Lauren Roselli (keyboards) – soon to be Lauren Johnson – and Jade Lee (keyboards, as they seemed to have answered that burning question when forming in 1983.
Based out of New York City, by way of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the quartet began as a long distance project between the two cities, with `Henna’ (from a various artists LP, `Id Rather Be In Philadelphia’) being their first official release on local Burn Potential Records. After finishing art school in Philly, Susan and Jade then joined Ted and Lauren in the Big Apple. They continued to record demos in Manhattan and soon word got out to the legendary Seymour Stein, who almost immediately signed the synth-pop second-wave new wave combo to Sire the following summer.
`Boy’ (b/w `Book Of Love’) and, in turn, `I Touch Roses’, sprinkled a bit of class into the US Dance Top 10, setting the scene for a small tour as support to DEPECHE MODE; and with their 1985 arrow pointing upward, they finally released their eponymous BOOK OF LOVE {*8} set, the following spring, replete with fresh dance hit, `Modigilani (Lost In Your Eyes)’.
Their biggest crossover hit to date (#90), `Pretty Boys And Pretty Girls’ was a dance-floor anthem that addressed the poignant and timely subject of AIDS, spending 11 weeks in the dance charts while ushering in their Top 200 sophomore effort, LULLABY (1988) {*7}. The album’s opener, a sanitised HI-NRG remake of MIKE OLDFIELD’s `Tubular Bells’, could well’ve wiped the green vomit from Linda Blair’s innocent “Exorcist” mouth, but it flowed so seamlessly into the aforementioned `Pretty Boys’, that the two were combined for a 14-minute club-friendly medley.
CANDY CAROL {*5}, issued early 1991, sold in excess of 60,000 units in its first week, but the lone single to chart, dance-wise, was `Alice Everyday’, and the overall 60s, pastiche styled themes and melodies seemed to rub against the musical landscape of the era. In the words of Lauren, it was “the beginning of the end of our story”.
But it seemed the quartet had at least one more trick in the book as the final chapter unveiled `Boy Pop’, an ode to gay men, which cruised into the Dance Top 5. To promote their accompanying fourth set, LOVEBUBBLE (1993) {*5}, the group played a handful of dates at select clubs and venues, but the album failed to garner chart momentum, and from Ted’s point of view the book had reached its zenith – “We could feel the tide changing. We could’ve continued on, but we basically felt we had done our thing by this point”.
Retrospectives and re-issues have since come on the market, notably I TOUCH ROSES: THE BEST OF BOOK OF LOVE (2001) {*8}, as well as the band’s full body of work in 2009 with bonus tracks. While each member was duly involved in other various projects, BOL were finding time to reunite for one-off shows, and as of 2013, they’ve publicly stated that a fresh fifth album is in the pipeline.
© MC Strong GRB // rev-up Cassie Gee/MCS Dec2014

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