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The House Of Love

+ {Guy Chadwick}

Tendering a domain between the C-86 movement and the psych-to-rave STONE ROSES/Madchester scene, outsiders The HOUSE OF LOVE initially attracted an alternative, college-rock fanbase close to their home in Camberwell, London. For several innocuous years between 1986 and 1994, mainman Guy Chadwick and Co delivered the kind of post-JESUS AND MARY CHAIN dream-pop (`Christine’ and `Shine On’ haunting musical portraits) that fascinated, not only NME-type readers, but a whole nation.
Borne out of The Kingdoms and Belfast’s COLENSO PARADE alumni, respective leaders Guy Chadwick (vocals/guitar) and Terry Bickers (guitar), were almost immediately joined by Andrea Heukamp (guitar/vocals), Chris Groothuizen (bass) and Pete Evans (drums). A well-worked demo tape duly caught the attention of Creation Record’s Alan McGee, who was only too happy to sign the act on the strength of one song in particular: `Shine On’. Released as their debut single in May ’87, the sublime and powerful song was well received, although it didn’t make the charts until 1990 when it dented the Top 20 in its re-vamped form. John Peel, in modus operandi, was a great fan of the record and played it to death out over the course of the year.
Its follow-up, `Real Animal’, was rather underwhelming in comparison, although a sample single (from the band’s Pat Collier-produced soon-to-be debut album), `Christine’, picked up where `Shine On’ left off; all glistening guitar and darkly mysterious vocals. Sick of touring, excess to requirements Heukamp had effectively bailed prior to its release, leaving the band to record their eponymous debut as a 4-piece.
The eponymous THE HOUSE OF LOVE (1988) {*8} succeeded in living up to the band’s early promise, a hypnotic VELVET UNDERGROUND-meets-BYRDS-meets-ONLY ONES hybrid that went down with The STONE ROSES’ debut as one of the key releases of the latter half of the decade. Touted as the future of British guitar-pop music by the press, the wistful band matched melody with mood on the likes of `Love In A Car’, `Man To Child’ and `Road’ – but what, no room for their first two 45s? Or for that matter, their final single for Creation: `Destroy The Heart’.
Snapped up by the resurgent Polygram-affiliated Fontana label, a prolonged period of delays and problems ensued as the record company released the `Never’ single against the band’s wishes in 1989; the recording of their follow-up album went seriously awry. Meanwhile, another single `I Don’t Know Why I Love You’, also lingered just outside the Top 40, although the year ended with Bickers departing on less than amicable terms to form his own act, LEVITATION.
With Simon Walker (from the DAVE HOWARD SINGERS) filling Bickers berth on a promotional tour, a second eponymous set, THE HOUSE OF LOVE {*8} – known as “the butterfly album” due to its sleeve art – eventually emerged early in 1990 to a varied critical reception. Recorded when Bickers was still at the helm, and with multiple producers (namely Dave Meegan, Paul Staveley O’Duffy, Stephen Hague and Tim Palmer), the record registered a Top 10 placing, while showcasing another minor Top 40 hit in `Beatles And The Stones’; plus the aforementioned 45s. Edgy and at times fragile with a hint of romanticism, other picks of the pack were `Hannah’, `32nd Floor’ and `In A Room’.
A further round of touring followed and later that year, Andrea returned to the fold, although this proved to be a temporary fill-in measure. It was to be another full year before any new material surfaced, `The Girl With The Loneliest Eyes’ eventually being released in the autumn. The record was a classic Chadwick composition and despite garnering critical favour again, it languished in the lower reaches of the charts. On completion of the band’s third album, BABE RAINBOW (1992) {*7}, Walker parted company, while various personnel guested on the album, including producer Warne Livesey (guitar, keyboards), Carole Kenyon (vocals) and Pandit Desh (tablas). Despite Chadwick’s pained deliberation in the studio, the album failed to receive resounding critical acclaim, and following a similarly underwhelming attempt to revive the band’s earlier sound through minor hit singles, `You Don’t Understand’ and `Crush Me’, it looked like The HOUSE OF LOVE were a spent force.
Ex-WOODENTOPS guitarist Simon Mawby played for the band in the latter half of ‘92, while guests Andrea Heukamp and the HIGH LLAMAS’ Sean O’Hagan augmented the remaining trio for fourth set, AUDIENCE WITH THE MIND (1993) {*4}. Without a single to compensate its all-too-brief Top 40 chart-run, both Groothuizen and Evans got their two-penn’orth in via `Erosion’ (plus `Hollow’) and `Sweet Anatomy’ respectively.
When Evans retired from music for a bit, The HOUSE OF LOVE were put to bed. Guy C eventually resurfaced in 1997, talking to the press about the drink and drug abuse, in-fighting and poor decisions that had marked the downfall of his band, shouldering the lion’s share of the blame. Having inked a new deal with Setanta Records, CHADWICK issued the mellow `This Strength’ single that November, a flop that was also spawned from parent album, LAZY, SOFT & SLOW (1998) {*6}. A further single that might’ve sounded a bit Smokey in nature, but was actually a freshly-penned piece by Guy, `You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me’, hit the buffers, while the ROBIN GUTHRIE-produced set did little to re-ignite the man’s career. BOWIE’s `Fall In Love With Me’ was a nice touch, but overall the set was a bit of a commercial failure. The HOUSE OF LOVE had covered a handful of track as B-sides: `I Can’t Stand It’ (The VELVET UNDERGROUND), `Pink Frost’ (The CHILLS), `It’s All Too Much’ (The BEATLES)< `Strange Brew’ (CREAM) and `Rock Your Baby’ (George McCrae).
Yes, it was only a matter of time before Chadwick and Bickers would be tempted back by agent Mick Griffiths into re-forming The HOUSE OF LOVE. Evans and Groothuizen, too, were invited into the fold in 2003, but only Evans took up the option. The relatively unknown Matt Jury was duly selected as their new bass player, as the quartet were going down a storm, both in Britain, Ireland and Sweden. Delivered for the independent Art & Industry Records, comeback album DAYS RUN AWAY (2005) {*7} showed just how much they’d missed the talent and cool of Bickers. Sadly, it missed out on a chart spot, although main single `Love You Too Much’ reached No.73. Taking the swinging psych-60s or C-86 as their template, Chadwick’s best-in-show were `Kinda Love’, `Gotta Be That Way’ and the delicious title track.
Fast forward several years and HOUSE OF LOVE pushed the boat out again on SHE PAINTS WORDS IN RED (2013) {*7}. Released by the long-standing Cherry Red independent, the album peeled away the layers of guitar-rock to basically sway and shimmer by way of a mellow melody. Opening salvo, `A Baby Got Back Its Feet’, was pulled out for a single, a confident and autumnal number matched by the title track, `Lost In The Blues’ and The CHILLS-like `Never Again’.
© MC Strong 1994-2003/GRD / rev-up MCS Jul2013

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