Oh, Who Wrote the Book of Love?

 

It’s not just a
monotonic question… influential band will be touring, too, in the wake of four
key reissues.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

One of the premiere first wave electronic groups, Book of
Love emerged out of the New York
City scene in the mid-‘80s in the wake of UK synthpop
stalwarts Yaz, Erasure and Depeche Mode. Signed to a label deal with Sire
Records by the legendary Seymour Stein, art-students-turned-musicians Ted
Ottaviano, Susan Ottaviano (oddly no relation), Jade Lee and Lauren Roselli
recorded just four albums, but their influence can heard today more powerfully
than ever, from the chart-storming dance pop of Ladyhawke and La Rouxto the
darker leanings of indie electro darlings Little Boots and Goldfrapp. Yet as these
albums – Book of Love, Lullaby, Candy Carol and Lovebubble – are
readied for a July 21 reissue on Collectors’ Choice Music’s Noble Rot label,
the reunited bandmates are preparing their first tour since 2001.

 
The reissues were annotated by Michael Paoletta, former editor and dance music
columnist at Billboard magazine, who observed: “Memorable melodies and
provocative lyrics reigned supreme. Book of Love’s songs were cathartic,
ebullient and life-affirming: solemn celebrations if you will.”

 
Between 1986 and 1993, the band delivered 12 singles culled from the four
studio albums about to be reissued. Songwriting duties were handled primarily
by Susan and Ted though Lauren contributed more to this process on Candy
Carol
and Lovebubble, while Jade’s writing chops were showcased on
the first and final albums.

 
Book of Love: Book of Love’s 1986 eponymous debut
album contained the hits “Boy,” “Book of Love,” “I Touch the Roses” and
“Modigliani (Lost in Your Eyes),” all chart-topping Billboard dance hits.
The album got them on the road with Depeche Mode twice at the height of that
group’s popularity. Seymour Stein signed the band to Sire Records upon hearing
the demo of the song “Boy,” which joins ten other demo tracks on a bonus album,
making the Book of Love reissue a 2-CD set. Other bonus tracks include
rare demos “I Touch Roses (Daniel Miller Mix),” “Boy (Dub Version)” and
“Modigliani (Instrumental Version).”

 
Lullaby: This 1988 release became the band’s
highest-charting album, thanks in large part to the two killer cuts that lead
off the record. The first was a beat-fortified remake of Mike Oldfield’s
classic “Tubular Bells (Theme From The Exorcist)” and “Pretty Boys,
Pretty Girls,” which was quite possibly the first song about AIDS ever to hit the
charts. The deluxe reissue includes the bonus extended mix of “Pretty Boys and
Pretty Girls,” “Tubular Bells/Pretty Boys Pretty Girls” (Regan’s house medley),
“Lullaby (Pleasant Dream Mix),” “Witchcraft (Extended Mix)” and “Enchantra.”
The album spent nine weeks on the Billboard 200 albums chart, peaking at
156 and crossing over from club dance floors to adventurous pop radio stations.

 
Candy Carol:
Highlighted by the tracks “Alice Everyday,” “Counting the Rosaries” and “Sunny
Day” (which was featured in the film The Silence of the Lambs), this
1991 album shifted into a more psychedelic direction and was rewarded with
another Billboard album chart entry; the single “Alice Everyday” missed Billboard‘s
Hot Dance Club Play chart by one point. “We were working on Candy Carol when Jonathan Demme was working on Silence,” says Lauren, “I played him
a rough mix and he felt he could use it in the film.” Bonus tracks include the
“Everyday Glo Mix” and the “Sam the Butcher Mix” of “Alice Everyday,” plus the
single remix of “Sunny Day” and the “Happiness and Love Mix” of “Counting the
Rosaries.”

 

 

  • Lovebubble:
    Book of Love’s final album in 1993 shows the members moving in different
    directions, making it an interesting, eclectic listen, full of cognitive
    dissonance. Included are “Boy Pop” (“Swinging Boy Bop Mix”), “Hunny Hunny (the
    band’s ABBA tribute in its “Sweet and Sticky MixPop Mix”) plus “Chatterbox”
    (“The Late Nite Chat Mix”). Lovebubble was the only Book of Love to
    feature vocal work by all four members. According to annotator Paoletta, the
    band “could decide to move creatively forward or back. So they went both ways.”
    “We were cordial while making Lovebubbble but the camaraderie was gone,”
    says Ted. “You can’t make magic with four cordial people.”

 
The group’s last proper tour was in 2001, in support of Candy Carol. If
all goes according to plan, Book of Love will take to the road in the coming
months including a hometown New York show.
 

“In the meantime,” writes Paoletta, “we will, collectively, continue to touch
roses.”

 

 

 

 

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