The Lover Speaks once more! Cherry Red Group’s Cherry Pop label has just offered up a new, expanded and remastered reissue of the new wave duo’s gleaming slice of synth-pop. 1986’s eponymous debut for The Lover Speaks, a.k.a. vocalist-lyricist David Freeman and composer-arranger Joseph Hughes, might be best remembered today for including the original recording of “No More ‘I Love You’s,” a 1995 hit for Annie Lennox on both sides of the Atlantic. But Cherry Pop’s reissue makes the case for the entire original album thanks to its comprehensive presentation.
Freeman and Hughes, both formerly of “power punk” band The Flys, set off in a new direction when they formed The Lover Speaks. (A number of other endeavors came in between The Flys and The Lover Speaks, but for that whole story, you’ll have to read the copious liner notes in this new reissue!) The duo was inspired by Roland Barthes’ 1977 book A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments. The book, originally published in French, was built around fragments from a lover’s point of view, with topics including “Dependency,” “Embrace,” “Languor” and so on. Three songs featured lyrics directly quoted from Barthes (“Absent One,” “Of Tears” and “This Can’t Go On!”) while the author served as an inspiration for the other tracks, as well. In the excellent track-by-track recollections that accompany this set, Freeman states that “our idea was to produce a musical cartoon of his book – an exercise in camp with a bouffant hairdo.”
Producer Jimmy Iovine, by that point already established for his work with Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty, among others, secured The Lover Speaks a contract at Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss’ hit factory, A&M Records. Keyboardist Joseph Gilbert was brought on board, as well as a number of famed musicians including percussionists Bobbye Hall and Paulinho da Costa, guitarist Nils Lofgren and keyboardist Roy Bittan of Springsteen’s E Street Band, and a number of guest vocalists including June Miles-Kingston (The Mo-Dettes, Fun Boy Three, Everything But the Girl, The Communards). Another key musician heard on The Lover Speaks is Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics. The duo, as well as Gilbert, would open for Stewart and Annie Lennox on The Eurythmics’ 1986 Revenge Tour.
Despite lyrically accessible songs based around universal themes of love and a shimmering, of-its-time production by Iovine, The Lover Speaks failed to take off. “No More ‘I Love You’s,” recognized as the potential hit long before Lennox’s cover version, only reached as high as No. 58 on the U.K. singles chart. The next single, the uptempo “Tremble Dancing,” failed to dent the charts. “Every Lover’s Sign,” the album’s opening track and mission statement, was the third single. (Hughes calls it “my favorite track” here; Freeman opines that it was “the weakest song on the album.”) Thanks to Bruce Forest’s remix, it made it all the way to No. 6 across the Atlantic on the U.S. Club Play chart, but couldn’t cross over successfully to Pop.
Sans Gilbert, Freeman and Hughes pressed onwards with a cover of Clive Westlake’s “I Close My Eyes and Count to Ten,” Dusty Springfield’s U.K. Top 5 hit in 1968. (The powerful single only made No. 122 in the U.S., a victim of Dusty having changed labels from Philips to Atlantic. “I Close My Eyes” was her final U.S. release on Philips.) Produced by Dave Stewart, The Lover Speaks’ “I Close My Eyes” was a big, retro-modern, dramatic affair. It couldn’t find chart action, though, and before long, The Lover Speaks’ sophomore album was shelved.
The Lover Speaks: Expanded Edition, produced with customary attention to detail by Vinny Vero, adds eight bonus tracks to the original album’s ten songs. These bonus sides include all of the related singles and remixes, six of which are new to CD. Larry R. Watts has written the comprehensive essay which accompanies the artists’ track-by-track notes, and Andy Pearce has remastered. Complete lyrics and a full discography round out this essential package.
Cherry Pop’s expanded edition of The Lover Speaks is due on June 22 in the U.K. and June 30 stateside! You can pre-order at the links below!
- Every Lover’s Sign
- No More “I Love You”s
- Never to Forget You
- Face Me and Smile
- The Absent One
- Love Is: “I Gave You Everything”
- “This Can’t Go On!”
- Still Faking This Art of Love
- Tremble Dancing
- Of Tears
- Every Lover’s Sign (7-Inch Remix) (A&M AM-2884 (U.S.)/AM-361 (U.K.), 1986)
- I Close My Eyes and Count to Ten (A&M AM-378 (U.K.), 1987)
- Tremble Dancing (Extended Version) (A&M AMY-347 (U.K.), 1986)
- Every Lover’s Sign (New York Remix) (A&M AM-361 (U.K.), 1986)
- I Close My Eyes and Count to Ten (12-Inch Dance Mix) (A&M AMY-378 (U.K.), 1987)
- Every Lover’s Sign (Dub Mix) (A&M AM-2884 (U.S.)/AM-361 (U.K.), 1986)
- I Close My Eyes and Count to Ten (Reprise) (A&M AMY-378 (U.K.), 1987)
- Every Lover’s Sign (Dub Mix Edit) (A&M AM-361 (U.K.), 1986)