Review: Love/Hate – Before The Blackout
AorBlvd Records (Oct 2016)
Reviewer: Peter Scallan
Love/Hate were one of those bands that appeared in the early 90s and gathered critical acclaim for their albums. Despite the heavy MTV rotation they failed to translate the critical acclaim into sales and were subsequently dropped by Columbia. They did carry on and have done six albums in total, although I am only familiar with the first three albums, which I loved. This collection as the name indicates is material recorded before the debut album of Blackout in the Redroom. These are mainly demos recorded in 1986-87.
First up is ‘Date With Fate‘ which sounds nothing like Love/Hate especially with regards Jizzy Pearl’s vocals, which take on Ian Astbury goth feel! In fact The Cult comparison also holds for the song sounding like it could be on Love and is not the most inspiring start to an album. ‘Extreme‘ opens up sounding even more like The Cult although the Jizzy voice I knew and loved starts to emerge. Next up is one of the songs that made it on to the second album Wasted in America. We are treated to an insight into how this song started as ‘Tranquiliser‘ emerges in a goth rock version. I loved this song on Wasted in America and it really rocks in its final version. ‘I’ve Got To Dream‘ falls back into the goth rock mode and for me sounds like it could be any one of a number of 80s UK bands such as The Sisters of Mercy – although not as good! In fact, its woeful! The subsequent song ‘Good Ship Dolly Rock‘ is still gothic but from this songs you can see the emergence of the sound that eventually got signed. Laden with keyboards, yeah that’s right – keyboards, it plods along a little uninspired. ‘Reincarnated‘ returns to the familiar Cult sound of the earlier songs and that UK 80s goth vocal style. Thankfully, it lasts less than three minutes.
‘Skid Row Gypsy‘ is the start of the material which is more recognisably Love/Hate. It’s a slow moving number with a mix of acoustic and electric guitars and Jizzy starting to sound like Jizzy! However, in the next number ‘Recognised‘, Jizzy sounds like he is impersonating Dick Van Dyke in places with his dodgy cockney accent. It also steps back to a more gothic sound but is relatively interesting, dance-style track with the funky bass and drums. Next we do get to here the real early Love/Hate with ‘Soul House‘ which is a bluesy rocker with Jizzy raising the stakes with the vocals at last. The emergence continues with ‘The Outside‘ with the funky bass and heavy guitar, although it does have some keyboards. In fact the keyboards make it sound a little Judas Priest a la Turbo. ‘Gypsy Love‘ sounds like it could have been a demo for Blackout in the Redroom although a little tame compared with the Ferociousness of that album. The next song ‘My Girl‘ has some great keyboards but the song sounds like it was written as a single and is pretty cool – in fact it sounds a little like Loverboy and consequently nothing like Love/Hate. We then are treated to the embryonic classic Love/Hate sound in ‘Love Burns‘. Musically and lyrically this is classic Love/Hate and starts and rocks along on a funky rhythm before changing into a driving chorus rhythm. We then have ‘Angel‘ which a demo of the track She’s An Angel from the Blackout album. Apart from the intro the song structurally is similar to that which eventually appeared on the album. The closing song is a classic Love/Hate number namely ‘Why Do You Think They Call It Dope?‘ With keyboards! Again it sticks structurally to the arrangement from the Blackout album and I quite like the keyboard parts. It isn’t quite as ferocious as the album version but good none the less.
What do I think of this album then, do I hear you say? Well there is some really interesting stuff on here mixed with some real duffers. But in its defence, these kinds of albums are not trying to go platinum but trying to provide a historical perspective on a given artist’s development. In that respect it fills the brief perfectly and therefore will appeal to real hard core Love/Hate fans. However, if you buy expecting a Blackout-style prequel, you will be sorely disappointed!