Love And Rockets

Beggars Banquet Records, 1986

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


This is the only Love And Rockets album worth owning.  Produced by John A. Rivers and released in 1986, Express starts out with an almost oppressive gothic rock approach and then morphs into something that even Top 40 radio could play. It’s no wonder college kids ate this one up with relish; it is the kind of catchy alternative music that made the ‘80s so memorable. Daniel Ash, David J. and Kevin Haskins have every right to be proud of this record, though none of its singles charted nearly as high as their 1989 hit “So Alive” did.

If I may, I’d like to start off discussing the best songs on Express. The parading dreamscape of “Angels And Devils” left me with the strongest impression. It is one of the most fascinating instrumental pieces I have ever heard. Then there is “Yin And Yang (The Flowerpot Man),” a great high-speed masterpiece that is destined to land on an action film soundtrack one of these days. With its galloping beat, screeching guitars and synchronized vocals, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Where the hell did this come from?!” As the darkest song about sunshine ever recorded, “It Could Be Sunshine” is like two songs in one, though the second part is better than the first. Also a definite standout is “Kundalini Express,” which features some impressive, almost serpentine guitar work.  I guess it’s no surprise to learn that the Sanskrit word “Kundalini” means “coiling like a snake.”my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Though they aren’t quite as strong, the slower tunes on Express do help to lighten the mood of the album quite considerably. For starters, the instantly likable “All In My Mind” is represented twice, but I found the lifeless acoustic version largely unnecessary.  The fact that it is lumped together with two other mediocre ballads (“Love Me” and “An American Dream”) doesn’t help matters any. The one slow song that does work is “Holiday On The Moon.” It may have only been included as a bonus track initially, but Love And Rockets eventually found it to be a diamond in the rough and included it on their greatest hits collection, entitled Sorted.

Love And Rockets may have never experienced more than limited, secular success, but their second album, Express, deserves to be recognized as one of the best alternative albums ever released. It finds the trio at the peak of their creative powers and their distinctive heart/missile logo on the cover is one of the most instantly identifiable in rock music (I’ve always thought it would make a great tattoo). Putting a dot on the exclamation point is the addition of their previous hit remake “Ball Of Confusion,” a song that has lyrics that are even more relevant today than they were at any other point in our world’s history. That’s why it is so essential to listen to this oldie but goodie with a new set of ears. Your love of life -- and music -- depend on it.

Rating: A-

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© 2008 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Beggars Banquet Records, and is used for informational purposes only.