Love and Rockets (1989)
Thoughts Before Listening
I vividly remember hearing this song as a teenager and thinking how low-key cool it was. It’s like they were trying super hard to sound like they weren’t trying at all. And I bought it. At the time I was listening to a lot of Depeche Mode and The Cure. I had no idea that prior to forming Love and Rockets, the core members were all in Bauhaus together. Bauhaus, for those unfamiliar, is widely regarded as a trailblazer in the “goth” rock genre.
It turns out that “So Alive” was plucked right from that goth rock genre that I loved so much. It struck a chord with me, but for some reason I never sought out the album (finding music was MUCH harder back then). Let’s find out if this album could have sat next to Violator and Disintegration on my CD shelf. To the headphones!
I have no memory of this band. I mean, I remember “So Alive”, but not a single thing about the band who sang it. Actually, until Scott brought up this song, I thought it was done by INXS. But this period of time was kind of a blur for me. Thirteen was an awkward age.
Other Songs of Note
The icing on the cake
“No Big Deal” – 6 points
Scott (3 points)
This is already a better start than the opener. Yes, this is better. It’s kind of a cool song. I’m not sure the digital glitchy noises were needed, and I love a well placed digital glitchy noise. The two vocals sound great together.
Weh-Ming (3 points)
A bit industrial. Oh wait! I have heard this song before! I have been humming this off and on for thirty years and I’ve never been able to figure out what it was! MUSICAL MYSTERY SOLVED. Man, feels good. Like an itch that I could finally scratch.
“Bound for Hell” – 5 points
Scott (4 points)
Well this is a departure. This is a song in two parts. The first is a quick couple of verses about spirituality and music. The rest of the song however is a retelling of a rockabilly nightmare trip to hell. It’s all verses, no chorus, and it’s a remarkably vivid tale – one almost gets the impression it was in fact someone’s dream.
Weh-Ming (1 point)
I like it, and I love the way it picks up. You know I’m a sucker for the old-timey sounding microphone. I wish it wasn’t quite as long as it was though.
What we would put on our personal mixtapes
“**** (Jungle Law)”
Weh-Ming (4 points)
Well, I don’t know what I was really expecting, but it wasn’t this. Interesting and I like it. It’s got some power and grit behind it. It all works. It set high hopes for the rest of the album, and I shall judge the rest of the album with this as the baseline.
This isn’t a killer start. It has no melody to speak of, and just kind of drones / trudges its way along. The guitar work is pretty good, but it’s not enough to save the song. Not for me.
“The Purest Blue“
Scott (2 points)
I absolutely love this intro. I’m intrigued to see where this goes. It doesn’t go far, but stays really odd and minimalist. If there was a loping trip-hop beat under it, I’d swear this was a Tricky song, six years before Maxinquaye dropped. I’m fully aware that this won’t be for everyone, but I like it.
Kind of a bluesy-jazzy song. The intro makes me think of film noir. Definitely an ambience piece. It was okay.
“Rock and Roll Babylon“
Weh-Ming (2 points)
Is this their tribute to The Beatles? It’s soft and easy to listen to.
I wanted to like this one. The music was pretty good, but I found the lyrical content a bit awkward and laboured. I’m sure it means more to anyone that has some context. I am not that person.
“The Teardrop Collector“
Scott (1 point)
A neat change of pace. Very chill and low key and dare I say… groovy?
This is a different sound than the rest of the album. Still surreal, but well done.
Well then. No, this album won’t sit next to my favourites of the era, but it did have some stuff on it that I enjoyed. I don’t see myself listening to the album again, but I can see a couple of the songs ending up on a playlist or two.
The single on this one doesn’t jump out at you from amongst the rest of the songs, the way some of our one hit wonders have. It’s like the songs around it, but all the good and interesting things on the other songs get put together perfectly on it, with a few little tricks that aren’t anywhere else on the album.
I had no expectations, so that may have helped. I like the overall sound of this album. It’s a cool bit of counter-culture. They sound more early 90’s than late 80’s, so I guess that means they were ahead of their time. They have kind of a goth sound, and some of the lyrics are super deep… or made with a Mad Libs generator.
Even the laziest devil
Sits on your youth and you cry
He watches your mistakes
Until the day you die
And then someone appears to assist you
This one puts a different doubt in your mind
I enjoyed it, and I recommend it, but there were only a few songs that really made me take notice. The rest were unoffensive.
Yeah But What Else
Down the Rabbit Hole (Additional listening inspired by this week’s review.)
Let’s get goth (or goth-adjacent)!
Bauhaus – “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” – The first goth rock song? Maybe. Just maybe. This was their debut single and it’s a weird one. It was also undeniably influential.
Depeche Mode – “Enjoy the Silence” – Does DM have songs that lean into the goth vibe more? Oh yes, they very much do. Do they have better songs? That is debatable.
The Cure – “Lovesong” – The Cure has a shocking number of great songs, and this one lives high among them.
Joy Division – “Love Will Tear Us Apart” – This is a song about lead singer Ian Curtis’s relationship woes and struggles with mental illness… that was released a month after he took his own life. Goth indeed.
This album was released in May 1989. You know what was released in July 1989? That’s right. Weird Al’s only major motion picture, “UHF”. So forgive me for not paying attention to this nobody band from wherever doing some song about being alive when there was actual cinematic history being made.
Did I think it was a perfect movie?
Did I think it was an amazing movie?
Not so much.
Did that stop me from buying the soundtrack, seeing it multiple times and memorizing it?
Not even a little.
There hasn’t been a Weird Al parody of Love and Rockets. But since Love and Rockets was named after the comic book by the same name, does that make them a parody act? No.
But did I enjoy the comics more than the album?
But have I ever read the comics?
But it’s an interesting fact, right?
Love and Rockets are a great band. I have all the Bauhaus albums.
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