If all I really wanted was to show the authenticity of my indie credentials, I’d just pick The German Album, or The House of Love as my favourite House of Love album. Purists would no doubt approve. But the purists were probably there at the beginning, when everyone was saying that The House of Love were going to be big, that the breakthrough was only a single away. Unlike the purists, I wasn’t there at the beginning. The Butterfly Album was my first House of Love album, by which time the purists had already moved on, and the feeling was that the band had blown it.
Not just the band, who blew it by going all out to wreck lives, careers and friendships with the help of all the drugs they could get their hands on, until the sensible course of action seemed to be to dump the guitarist - the guitarist who gave them that distinctive ringing guitar sound - out of the bus, mid-tour.
The label, too, who thought the path to fame and fortune was by turning them into the next U2. But Guy Chadwick is not Bono; Terry Bickers is not The Edge; the drummer is not the drummer.
Two singles from The Butterfly Album - Never and I Don’t Know Why I Love You - stalled one place outside the top 40. Shine On, one of the album’s re-recorded old tracks, made the top 20. Beatles and the Stones took a look at the Top 40 from just inside the doorway before slinking off.
It was about this time that I fell in love with everything the band had done, and waited expectantly for a new release. It came in the form of an album, Babe Rainbow, and a single, The Girl with the Loneliest Eyes, in advance of the album. I had money to spend, and a mind to show everyone what a free thinking musical iconoclast I was. Babe Rainbow, then, is one of a handful of albums from a time when I would wait, and wait, maybe read a review or two (but not be swayed by them, of course), buy the album as soon as I could, and pore over the artwork and liner notes while listening. Everything was new; everything was exciting.
Babe Rainbow kicks off with the Spencer Davis Group aping You Don’t Understand, and spends the next 40 minutes saying “look, we can still do the beautiful guitar thing, ok?” (Guy Chadwick, rather stupidly, at one point went as far as to claim that he’d played 90% of all the band’s guitar parts anyway). It features Andrea Heukamp’s spine-tingling backing vocals, the beautiful, shimmery Fade Away, shiny anthems all over the place, and the saddest chord change in rock music, as one review described The Girl with the Loneliest Eyes.
The album’s four singles spent a total of eight weeks in the charts. None of them broke the top 40. Guy Chadwick managed to push out one more album, Audience With The Mind, before what was left of the band called it a day.
After a long hiatus, to general delight and surprise, Chadwick and Bickers started working together again, and a (mostly) reformed House of Love released a comeback album, Days Run Away, in 2005. A sixth album, She Paints Words in Red, followed in 2013.