Book Of Love: Book Of Love US CD 
- Modigliani (Lost In Your Eyes)
- You Make Me Feel So Good
- Still Angry
- White Lies
- Lost Souls
- Late Show
- I Touch Roses
- Yellow Sky
- Happy Day
- Die Matrosen
- Book Of Love
- Modigliani (Lost In Your Eyes) (I Dream Of Jeanne Mix)
- Modigliani (Requiem Mass)
- You Make Me Feel So Good (Flutter Mix)
- I Touch Roses (Long Stemmed Version)
- Boy (Extended Mix)
Most of the time, my role amongst my friends about 35-30 years back was to be the canary in the coal mine or Johnny Appleseed of new music to the larger tribe. It’s nothing that I aspired to; it just happened that way. I was always paying close attention to the various musical tributaries and thusly was usually first to trumpet this or that band to the circle of friends at large. But I can vividly remember one instance where a friend passed knowledge of a band onto me for a change. My old friend Dan was working at a mall that had a video jukebox, so it was there, during work that he first told me about the Philadelphia-based synthpop band Book Of Love.
He had seen the clip for their second single “I Touch Roses” on play while at work, so he thought I’d be interested. I checked the name, and the first time I saw the 12″ single of “I Touch Roses” at Murmur Records, I bought the copy. It was a pretty good song, considering what was happening musically at mid-decade! I liked the slightly flat, dusky vocals of Susan Ottaviano. She provided a likable ingenue within the context of sapphic leanings of the tune. The rhythm programming was pretty interesting and I liked the sampled guitar hook quite a bit. I kept my nose to the ground and the next year when their album was released, I was on top of it.
The first Book Of Love CD was filled with a dozen songs which made it plainly clear that this was a bad with its own vibe. The songs all featured strong, simple melodies, which gave their winsome tunes a childlike air of nursery rhymes. It could have been a recipe for a disaster of the most cloying kind were is not for the fact that the band were obviously not putting on airs. The honesty of their approach to the songs was what put them across effectively, not affectedly.
A song like their third single “You Make Me Feel So Good” is so guilelessly straightforward, how could anybody dislike it? Even when Susan Ottaviano sings:
“I wish I was
On the waves
In the sea
White caps break
On my wet dream
Why don’t you
Come and play
On white sheets
We’ll float away”
The winsome melodica, played by Ted Ottaviano [no relation] undercuts even the merest hint of lasciviousness. The net effect purely playful and surprisingly innocent. Even the attempt at dourness on “Still Angry” is undercut by the group’s inability to give into negativity or even minor chords. Only a grump could find fault with this band. Sure, they’re twee, but honestly so.
The one tune here that managed to break free from the tubular bells and glockenspiel that colored this music, its reliance on synths not withstanding, was the reasonably intense “Lost Souls.” Here was the one song on this album where minor keys could be heard amid the sunshine and lollypops. Maybe it was Mark Kamins mixing this single track that made the difference, but the track managed to build quite a head of steam; showing this band actually did have the ability to reach a level of intensity that much of this music failed to demonstrate.
If “Lost Souls” was the dark cloud on the album, the silver lining was definitely the sumptuous song “Modigliani [Lost In Your Eyes].” Here was a song that only inveterate art-school students could have written! Who else would form a synthpop band – in Philadelphia, no less? The recitations in Italian only pushed this one way over the top into the shining acme of American synthpop. America usually played second fiddle on the synthpop scene, but at a time when The Human League had their album written and produced by Jam + Lewis, a track like this gave one hope that all was not lost.
In an early bid for value for money, the CD was rounded outby five 12″ versions; all four of their 12″ A-sides were accounted for here along with a 2nd remix [“Modigliani [Requiem Mass]”] for extra good measure. I rode the Book of Love bus to the bitter end [meaning their ill-fated 4th album “Lovebubble”]. I saw the band on their Lullabye and Candy Carol tours and understood their getting out of the game when the fangs of the 90s bit deep into the neck of innocence and synthesizers. In a world where hip hop and grunge ruled the charts, there was no longer any place for dreamers like Book Of Love.
– 30 –