How Love and Rockets Shifted Into High Gear With ‘Express’
The Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven, the 1985 debut from Love and Rockets, showed a more diverse side of guitarist Daniel Ash, bassist David J. and drummer Kevin Haskins than had been on display in Bauhaus or Tones on Tail. They kept mixing psychedelia, pop and vintage glam on their second album, Express, which was released on Sept. 15, 1986.
From the opening notes of "It Could Be Sunshine," the band are tighter and more focused than on Seventh Dream. The song floats in and continues to build, finally being unleashed as they kick into high gear on the chorus. Chaotic guitars and David Bowie-inspired vocals shimmer atop the urgent rhythm. "Kundalini Express," the album's first single, follows and is a full-on T. Rex-inspired glam stomper, with a sexy, slithering guitar riff. The b-side included a cover of Pink Floyd's early classic "Lucifer Sam," showing off another of the band's influences.
"The first time we were really exposed to music, when we were of an age we could really appreciate it, and were like little sponges, was Bowie, T. Rex, the glam thing, but like the cream of the glam, as it were," explained David J. in a 2015 interview. "Roxy Music, and then also the electronic artists like Kraftwerk, and before them, Can."
"All in My Mind," the second single from the album, is a haunting beauty of a pop song. The strong melody and catchy chorus are miles away from any Goth connections to their previous life. It's very much a pure '60s-influenced pop song set in the mid-'80s, but unlike so many records of the era, the production here (by John Rivers) is more organic, and more sympathetic to the music instead of overshadowing it in too many gimmicks of the era.
Possibly inspired by the U.K. children's show The Flower Pot Men, "Yin & Yang and the Flowerpot Man" is another highlight. The acoustic guitar-driven rocker was the third single released from the album and remains one of the band's finest moments.
Express became a huge favorite on college radio in America, and cemented their reputation as one of the era's finest U.K. offerings.
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