As regular readers know I like being a cheery sort, bountifully dispensing ‘I love this’ and ‘I love that’, in industrial quantities and I don’t like it when I find absolutely no merit in a LP. But even if I do I can usually look back fondly on when I bought it and patronise my young self from a protective distance. That’s just how I roll, but I’m struggling here folks, really struggling.
Today’s prisoner hauled off my shelves and made to fight for its’ life is the self-titled debut LP by House of Lords, released on Gene Simmons’ record label. I can vaguely, vaguely remember buying this one cheap in Backstreets Records in Carmarthen (6 March 1990, my handy sticker tells me) and after 23 years all I can remember about my motives for buying it were the nice marble-effect cover* and a good review in Kerrang! You know that crushing moment in life when you realise your parents are just ordinary fallible mortals and not the gods you thought they were? this had a similar effect.
Why did I buy it though? it’s AOR for Crom’s sake ! Nothing good ever came of AOR, ever!!** Also, never mind the marble-effect cover flip the sucker over and feast your eyes on the band. There they stand, blinking in a blue haze wearing frilly blouses and collectively sporting the worst hair I can think of this side of D’Molls – did I not notice? Also, check out the song titles – Love Don’t Lie, Under Blue Skies, Call My Name, Hearts of The World – Come on 1537, pay attention!! Also naming a band after the UK’s unelected second chamber of governance – stuffed full of archbishops, the nobility and ennobled political cronies does seem like a very strange thing to do^, in fact I can’t think of a less rock and roll name.
To give myself some credit for open-mindedness, I do remember playing this LP a certain amount of times to see if I could make myself like it. I felt the same way again just now. To give the band their dues they’re competent and professional sounding to the core featuring Gregg Giuffria (of Angel fame) and a drummer who’d done time with Alice Cooper, but that’s it – that really is it. If the music isn’t pompous and laden with awful 80’s rock band synths (not in a good way like van Halen’s ‘Jump’), it’s a sexless rock swagger distilled from the corpses of various US bands. The sound, in particular the drum sound, is so trebley and awful, it is as if the songs have been given a non-stick sheen, guaranteed to repel any interest a listener may wish to lavish upon them. The songs come in two types, Heartfelt or Raunchy – Call my Name vs. Lookin’ For Strange, if you like; neither of which do what they should.
One enduring piece of mystery about this LP is that it was produced by the late Andy Johns, a man whose credits include Exile on Main Street, Led Zeppelin II, III and IV (as engineer) and as a producer Marquee Moon, Free Heartbreaker, Night Songs and the first two Humble Pie LPs. That’s a serious pedigree.
The best bit on the LP is a touch of Spanish-sounding flamenco guitar at the beginning of either ‘Call my Name’ or ‘Jealous Heart’ – I don’t know which, I’d lost interest by then and was probably only 8 AOR minutes away from losing total control of my bowels. That’s it – that’s the highlight. That’s me trying to be positive.
All in all It adds up to a waste of co-polymer of vinyl chloride acetate, folks!
*always been a sucker for marble-effect covers, ‘been a ruin for many a poor boy, and lord I know I’m one’ – as someone sang once, probably.
**apart from those 3 Pat Benetar tracks, More than a Feeling, Don’t Stop Believin’, those 3 Foreigner tracks, those 2 Toto tracks, Keep on Loving You and that Jimmy Barnes one I liked; but apart from that …
^having said that I did pick this LP tonight because the House of Lords (real, not musical) have just voted to allow the bill allowing same-sex marriages, which I heartily approve of (and not just out of spite!) to proceed to the next stage of legislation. True story.