Eighteen years ago today this baby was born, our child number two and daughter number one, Eliza. Unlike her brother's traumatic entry to the world and subsequent difficulties, she was an easy birth (obviously that's easy for me to say, I wasn't the one doing the hard work at that exact moment) and she has been a joy to be around ever since. Reaching the point where both your children are eighteen or older is a good way to make you feel old but having a lively, witty, grounded and occasionally sarcastic eighteen year old around also keeps you feeling young. She has a week's worth of partying planned, from today through to Friday but today's the actual day so happy birthday Eliza.
Back in 1987 when I was seventeen The House Of Love released a single that became their calling card, the shimmering indie rock of Shine On. In the lyric Guy Chadwick (definitely not a teenager at the time, not even in his twenties I reckon) sings, 'I'm so young/ Just eighteen' before Terry Bickers' guitar soars into the stratosphere and the chorus kicks in, 'she/ she- she- she shine on'. So, keep shining Eliza, on and on.
I was seventeen when I first heard this song and eighteen when they released the single Christine and their debut album. These records are indelible imprints of my youth. In the way that things worked back then the band were indie sensations, darlings of the NME, Creation Records wonderkids and as a result hawked around the major labels by Alan McGee. They signed to Fontana for a typically large advance. The group's drug use was spiralling at the time and the first thing Fontana did was release a single without the band's consent (Never, a record I adore but which the general feeling was fell short of the songs that propelled them in the first place). Terry Bickers, guitar whizzkid, was increasingly uncomfortable with all aspects of chasing fame and fortune and life on a major label and his relationship with Chadwick broke down. Bickers' drug use and mental health deteriorated jus as they worked on an expensively recorded album for Fontana and a mammoth sixty date tour was about to start. I saw them play at Widnes Queen's Hall on 27th November 1989 and the tensions were evident from the floor of the venue. The following week Terry was kicked out of the tour bus at a service station near Bristol. A week later The House Of Love played Portsmouth Polytechnic with hastily recruited Simon Walker on guitar. This re- recorded version of Shine On was included on their Fontana album and released as a single in March 1990. The single hit the dizzying heights of number twenty and they made their only Top Of The Pops appearance, Bickers out of the group and on his way to forming Levitation. In a lot of ways this was the end for them, even though they crawled on for a few more years, increasingly desperate attempts at flogging singles in multiple formats and albums to recoup the advance Fontana threw at them. They never recaptured what briefly made them special in 1987- 8. Despite Guy Chadwick's ambition, some bands just aren't built to be big.