By JAY ROBERTS
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
HOUSE OF LORDS – HOUSE OF LORDS (1988)
As I was preparing to listen to this album, I was racking my brain to see if I could remember owning the self-titled debut album from House of Lords when it was originally released.
Sadly, the passage of time has left me with no clear-cut memory of that so at best, it is 50-50 whether or not I had previously owned the album. If I did, the album didn’t survive whatever collection purge I have done over the years.
But when I saw the album sitting in a cassette rack at my local record shop, I just felt a need to pick it up. The fact I’d written about two other House of Lords albums played a part in that buying decision but I remember a couple of tracks from the songs getting airplay on the radio and MTV back in the day.
Happily enough, those two remembered songs are the first two on the album. “Pleasure Palace” has a big instrumental overture to open up the song before a more intensely rocking soundtrack kicks in. Guitarist Lanny Cordola plays a mean guitar lick on this song and throughout the album and when you add in the deeper bold vocal sound from singer James Christian, it doesn’t surprise me that I have fond memories of this song.
And you can’t forget the song “I Wanna Be Loved”, which I believe was the big single/video release for the album. I liked the song back when it was originally released and hearing it now, it still retains a vibrant kind of vitality to it.
As for the rest of the album, even if I did own it, I can’t say that I remembered many of the songs off the top of my head. That gave me the opportunity to listen to the remaining eight songs as one of those new musical experiences that make rediscovering albums such a big thrill.
The last three songs on side one cover the spectrum of song styles for a hard rocking band of the 1980’s. While “Edge of Your Life” has a slow and stark tempo to the beginning of the track, it morphs into a solid rocker after the first verse.
There’s a cover of the Stan Bush song “Love Don’t Lie”. I don’t know which way the wind blows regarding the Bush fans over this cover but I actually kind of liked it. This surprised me a little.
I also loved the fiery rock style of “Lookin’ For Strange”. In fact, I came away incredibly impressed with how aggressively the band could rock out on this particular album without sacrificing the more melodic side of their musical nature.
That’s especially evident on the first song of Side Two. “Slip of the Tongue” takes no prisoners when it comes to that fast aggressive tempo. And the way Christian fires out the lyrics makes this just a flat out killer track. I’d venture to say that it might just be my overall favorite track on the album.
The band’s more grandiose style comes into play most effectively on the songs “Heart of the World” and “Under Blue Skies”. For “Heart of the World”, the epic scale is tempered by more of a driving rock tone. But with “Under Blue Skies”, the sense of the grand epic reigns throughout the song and the sentiments conveyed by the song’s lyrics are pretty interesting too.
The album closing out on hard rocking songs “Call My Name” and “Jealous Heart” leaves the listener amped up on adrenaline.
I know I was pretty jazzed up throughout listening to the album and I can’t really say I was disappointed by any of the album’s ten songs. While that may be coming 32 years too late to mean much to those concerned, the important part for me is the discovery of yet another House of Lords album that I am proud to have in my music collection.
NOTES OF INTEREST: Singer David Glen Eisley, who was the frontman for House of Lords keyboardist Gregg Giuffria’s GIUFFRIA band, co-wrote four of the songs on this album. One of those tracks, “Slip of the Tongue”, was written with Giuffria and Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen.
Though Kiss’s Gene Simmons is listed as the executive producer for this album, it was Andy Johns and Gregg Giuffria who co-produced the music itself.
I’ve seen House of Lords (in whatever grouping of lineups they had at the time) twice in concert. The first time was in 1991 in Boston. The second time was in New Bedford, MA, back in October of 2018. Both shows were pretty darn entertaining!