Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tubular Bells by Book of Love

Book of Love was an interesting slice of mid to late 80s synthpopiana. In a time when the New Order and Depeche Mode influenced darker sound was becoming extremely prevalent, Book of Love popped up into the scene with a wistful, dreamy, ethereal romantic sound. At a time when male vocalists were dominating the synthpop scene, Book of Love put front-woman Susan Ottaviano on duty (although her vocal register is low enough that most male fans can probably sing along without too much trouble.)

I've always been a huge Book of Love fan... well, that is I was a fan of their first two albums. The eponymous 1985 freshman effort is truly one of the shining stars of the 80s synthpop scene; one of the best overall CDs ever released in the genre. The sophomore effort, Lullaby, is not as consistantly good, and has a bit more filler, although to make up for that gap, it has some of Book of Love's best individual songs, the title track "Lullaby" and the "Tubular Bells/Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls" medley (and "Witchcraft" and "With a Little Love" are good songs too. "Champagne Wishes" ain't bad either.)

Sadly, their third effort, Candy Carol was disappointing, with only three or four songs that are even worth mentioning at all (although since it came out in 1991, it's out of scope for this blog) and their fourth and final studio album, Lovebubble was even more disappointing. What started out as a great run kinda whimpered away.

That said, Book of Love did some great work. Never a pop chart topper in the US, they did, however, manage to make an impressive showing on the dance charts, and later mid-90s re-releases of some of their better songs actually performed even better on the charts then they did the first time.

Back in the 80s, I was also a big fan of the 12" single, so named because the vinyl releases came in 12" format, like an actual album (as opposed to the 7" smaller pressing, which played at a higher speed.) Now, I'm not necessarily a big fan of the vinyl format (especially now, since I don't even have a player to play my old 12"s anymore---although I do still have all those actual 12"s in my basement. Just in case.) Sadly, many of those remixes from that era never got digital re-releases, and the song I've chosen to highlight next, the decoupled so-called 7" version of "Tubular Bells" (a remake of Mike Oldfield's song, which was used as the theme for The Exorcist) is one such song. I have it on the "Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls" 12" single, but lacking a record player, if it weren't for youtube, I wouldn't even be able to hear this anymore. So, thanks a lot, youtube!

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