Book Of Love / I Touch Roses: The Best Of Book Of Love

I Touch Roses: The Best OfBook of Love was, from 1984 to 1993, a popular synth pop and dance music band, alongside Sire Records labelmates Depeche Mode and Erasure. Led by vocalist Susan Ottaviano, the band also included Ted Ottaviano (no relation to Susan), Lauren Roselli and Jade Lee.

Their biggest success came on the US dance charts, placing seven singles in the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart between 1985 and 1993. The group’s largest exposure on pop radio was with the song “Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls.” The song, from its album Lullaby, was originally the second half of a medley with the group’s house-music version of Mike Oldfield‘s “Tubular Bells,” a 1973 instrumental that served as the eerie theme music of the classic horror film The Exorcist. Edited down to single length, “Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls” became Book of Love’s only Hot 100 entry, peaking at number 90 in 1988.

In February, 2001 — sixteen years after its first dance chart entry — Book of Love had its first number-one hit on the US dance chart when “Boy,” a track originally from its debut album, was remixed and re-released as the lead single from their greatest hits collection, I Touch Roses: The Best of Book of Love. Another newly remixed track, “I Touch Roses” followed shortly thereafter, and in additional support of the greatest hits collection, a small, half-dozen venue tour visited cities spanning coast to coast.

The Analysis:

I Touch Roses—-Perhaps, for me, one of the premier triumphs for the synthpop band. This has all of the required synth melodies and hooks and I still question why this band was never huge outside of the Gay clubs and the Dance Floor. This has a remarkable progressive synth beat and a synth line that is so damn contagious you will have this in your head for days. The vocal is magical…leading you to lose yourself in the underlying joyful feel of the song. I was a late comer to this band, but they still live wonderfully in my mind’s eye and my heart that really loves great synth pop.

Boy—-Although I have countless remixes of this song, for me it never really stacked up very well among the other songs that this band managed to produced. This is a track that is full of Girl Power style lyrics and fun synth lines, but lacks some of the magical pop melodies that made up many of the classics from this band. For me, the best versions of this song are the ones without most of the lyrics…concentrating instead on the heavy bass and the wonderful synth piano that drives the song. This is not bad by any means, i just think there is so much better.

Modigliani [Lost In Your Eyes]/Single Mix—-Truly one of the premier singles from this group and the one that first caught my ear and helped me to become a fan. This is full of classic 80’s style synth sounds and a fun gang style vocal that just allows you to have fun. The synth grooves are perfect for a Friday night dance party where you drink too much and lose yourself in the atmosphere of great music. There is a nice underlying melancholy that runs through the song…but the bass line overcomes any longing that you might have…instead just inspiring you to dance your loneliness away.

Alice Everyday—-This is fun, but the silliness of the lyrics almost undermines the attitude of the song. The bass comes at you hard and heavy..the song is much faster paced than most of the bands incarnations. The song has a remarkable throwback feel to the 60’s girl pop sound..that initself make this incredible. This is fun and is not to be taken seriously..I guess that is where the fun comes in. This is brilliant.

Hunny Hunny [Radio Remix]—-This is another magical track that is heavy in the 60’s girl pop sound of the 60’s. This is so damn pleasant that it would for perfectly in the current beach Pop movement that is going on in the underground of alternative music these days. this is laden with synths and effects that never take away from the pop purity of the sound…I love this happy-go-lucky sound…it causes a rare smile and a contentment that is hard for me to find these days…thank god for great pop music!

Getting Faster—-Wow….this is fantastic. Driven by a huge bass synth line, the vocal is a bit deeper and falls in line with the bas so well that you feel like you are wrapped up in a huge blanket of sound. this is literally wondewrful…why this band was not huge during the synth movement is beyond me..perhaps the label was directing all of it’s energy behind Erasure and Depeche Mode..I feel bad for them because this is quality stuff that should be heard by the masses. This is so delicious it again brings a huge smile and energy to my being. Just what I needed.

Pretty Boys And Pretty Girls [Single Mix]—-This lacks a bit of the ingenuity of many of the bands singles..this sounds too common place to really make a difference on the Dance Chart. Not to say that this is a throw away track…this has a pretty damn infectious synth line and the lyrics are asexual enough to really play well in both Gay and Straight Dance clubs with little trouble. This is nice, but lacks a bit in originality.

You Make Me Feel So Good [Single Mix]—-This is another classic Book Of Love single….combining all of the masterful elements that drove the band to the cult status that they enjoy. The synth line is so 80’s and driven by that magical toy piano sound that you find yourself playing an imaginary keyboard as the song unfolds in your ears. The vocal is full of seductive lines that are delivered with a sweet unadulterated sexiness that makes me smile even more. I have not listened to this in a long time…and I apologize for that. This is wonderful….GUSH!!!!

Sunny Day [2000 Version]—-Given an updated feel, this only serves as a disappointment for me…this lacks a lot of the energy and the synth driven melancholy of the original. This is really different for me…it really leaves me with an unsettled feeling that leaves me more empty than fufilled…and without the bright female vocal it loses all of its appeal…..sorry.

Chatterbox Pt. II —-This is fantastic…full of inane spoken word vocals that remind you of acid trips in the 80’s, this is an almost acid house driven track that leaves you with a remarkable euphoric feeling. This lacks the sharp synth driven sounds of the bands earlier recordings…later in the band’s career, they became much more ambient…none the less, this is a fun and inane song that is nice to revisit just for the silliness and relaxed nature of the whole damn thing.

Tubular Bells—-This is the bands incarnation of the Mike Oldfield classic that really almost began the synth movement back in the late 70’s….this again really tells the history of the band as they emerged as a more trance/acid based band. The heavy bass is very nice and the resemblance to the original is nicely represented but lacks the raw and initial feel of the original. I don’t hate this, I was just expecting so much more when a band even attempted to cover this landmark recording.

Counting The Rosaries—-This has a nice escalating sound…starting out really sedate, but growing into a huge song that I am sure pissed off Catholics around the world. This is layered with synth lines from all directions and a swirling vocal that leaves you with an euphoric feel that is almost impossible to excape….it is this subtle delivery that I love so much about this band. This is almost genius!!!

Lullaby—-Wow….this is delicious. Laden with a swirling sound that takes over you entire being, the vocals are almost indescipherable…but the mood is full of infection and euphoria. I get so happy listening to this band that it almost becomes dangerous. I love every element of this song…the synth lines are throwbacks to the pure 80’s sound, while still sounding fresh and relevant. why Ace Of Base and not this band…if I were them, I would be really pissed off at my label!!!

Try—-This is nice…delivered with lots of classic synth tones and some classic Erasure styled sounds ….but still leaves me uninspired and empty. I try and try to wrap myself around this song but it still evades me. I love the strong piano line, but I still get ni inspiration from this.

Boy [Peter Rauhofer Remix]—-This remix is magnificent….taking the simple synth lines and turning them into a huge swirling sound that lights my soul on fire. This is marvelous…i never tire of this version of this song…making the original version almost obsolete…this remix gives the song about another 50 BPM’s and travels from head phone to headphone…making the song even sexier and dirty. I love this…Rauhofer is incredible!!!

It’s In Your Eyes—-This is pretty magnificent…taking the original song and turning it into this dirty funk synth track that would play very well mixed with the original…I love this although it goes on a bit too long for me. This is still a classic sounding synth track from some of te masters of the genre…pay attention people…these are giants!!!!

****1/2 out of 5


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