Love And Rockets

Love and Rockets, the band that rose phoenix-like from the ashes of Goth godfathers Bauhaus in 1985, has been unforgivably left out of the conversation. I am of the opinion that L & R were, without a doubt, major innovators in that 80’s game called pop, not unlike New Order, with whom they share many similarities.

After the dissolution of Bauhaus, guitarist Daniel Ash formed Tones On Tail. They were kind of like a test run for what was to become Love And Rockets and scored one massive underground hit in “Go!”, and released one album before calling it a day. Ash called up his old pals, Bauhaus bassist David J (who was working with the Jazz Butcher at the time) and Kevin Haskins (drummer for B-Haus, also David J’s brother) and formed L&R.

The first album, Seventh Dream Of Teenage Heaven, was a good debut, but you could tell that, like New Order, they were trying to shake off the ghosts of their former band. When they got it right they got it really right, with lush song-scapes as Saudade, If There’s A Heaven Above and Haunted When The Minutes Drag.

The ‘difficult’ second album turned out to be a breakthrough, but a lot of that album’s popularity was due to the massive club hit single and Temptations cover (!) Ball Of Confusion they released just prior to releasing Express. Ball Of Confusion aside, Express remains their masterpiece. They let their freak flag fly high for this one (songs with titles such as “Yin Yang and the Flowerpot Man”, Kundalini Express, “Life In Laralay” and the moody “Holiday On The Moon”—just as psychedelic as their titles would suggest), but thankfully their pop chops were fully intact by this point. Express remains a wonderful document of the 1980’s.

The third album, Earth Sun Moon, is their “progressive” album. First single ‘No New Tale To Tell’ is ripe with-GASP!-flute and acoustic guitars, but was a fairly major hit for the band. It still retains that psychedelic edge, especially Ash’s guitar squall, of the prior two albums but is more refined and rock oriented than those. Some, including Allmusic.com, rate this as their peak.

Their self-titled fourth, released in 1989, broke the band through to the mainstream thanks in large part to the T Rex aping single “So Alive”. Other than that one anomaly, the album was their darkest and most schizophrenic effort to date. The dark stuff, “****(Jungle Law)”, intermingles with the fun scuzz of “No Big Deal” and “Motorcycle”. It works, but just barely.

Like so many great ‘80’s bands Grunge, and the reemergence of disco (read: house music and electronica) confused these guys to a great degree. 5 years after their breakthrough they released the sub-par Hot Trip To Heaven, but by this time no one gave a shit. House and ambient electronica wasn’t their bag, baby, and their fan base left for greener, more hip, pastures.

1996’s Sweet FA was just awful, as was their swan song, ‘98’s mildly better Lift. A sad way to end a career.

If you’re curious about these guys I can tell you that you can’t go wrong with purchasing any one of the first three albums. After that you’re on your own and would be better off going back and repurchasing some of the Bauhaus remasters.

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