Released today in 1987: Love Like A Rocket

Mercury BOBG2

Mercury BOBG102

This, the second solo single from Bob Geldof, appeared just after the verdict from the UK’s weekly music press for his album Deep In The Heart of Nowhere was delivered. In preparation for delivering their mostly damning reviews, many started with some sort of a disclaimer, acknowledging his revered status following Band Aid (Smash Hits: “Sir Bob tells us that he very much wants to abandon being a professional saint and get back to being a pop star”; Music Week: “… with a best-selling book and single out, and with all that public esteem, interest is bound to be high”; Sounds: “an honourable man trying hard, very hard…”), but there’s also healthy notes of cynicism too: New Musical Express: “I could be appallingly crass and say you’re the most brilliant self-publicist pop has ever had”; Melody Maker: “And just in time for Christmas, too! Say what you will about him, but Bob’s sense of commercial exploitation has always been impeccable”; Record Mirror: “What is important is the bang-and-crash publicity this record will get, the selling of Bob’s saintliness and the smug ‘pat on the back’ satisfaction we all derive from that. Geldof is in no way to blame for any of this, but one wonders how the MD of his record company views the selling of this product.” (None mentions the album’s release date though – almost exactly two years to the day from the recording of Do They Know It’s Christmas?.) Here’s what they had to say:

  • The packaging
  • NME: “I could take the piss out of the grainy, moody, subtle-appeal Brian Aris cover.”

  • The lyrics
  • Sounds: “Bob addresses the world, and nothing less will do. This Is The World Calling, Words From Heaven, This Heartless Heart – it’s all written to be huge and timeless and impervious.”
    NME: “I can see you’ve made a bit of effort with the old lyrics, but that doesn’t help when the muzak is so obviously not happening.”
    Music Week: “The songs are all self-penned and, while lyrically they excel – sheer poetry in motion…”
    Melody Maker: “Geldof’s writing…is often comically portentous. August Was A Heavy Month is as groaningly hard-going as its title predicts, while the lyrics for Night Turns To Day reads like a bad translation from the original Latvian. “Must it always be that we of necessity acquire understanding/and with that knowledge we must gain/all the mental pain of comprehension.” Phew! Those words don’t exactly trip off the tongue.”
    Record Mirror: “The lyrics are banal, the rhymes strictly fourth-form.”
    Smash Hits: “…laboured, grandiose over-wordy “rock” songs, very passionate, very “clever”, but not actually very good.”
    No.1: “…Geldof fails, in an album of self-penned songs, to deliver anything of substance or appeal.”

  • Bob’s vocals
  • Record Mirror: “The problems lie with … Geldof’s voice … nowhere does Geldof’s vocal feel, plea or reach a sentiment with anything more than ham sincerity. He’s simply not a very good singer.”
    Sounds: “Bob sounds weary to his bones.”
    NME: “And you still can’t sing.”

  • The music
  • Sounds: “British rock tuned to an American radio, very black-and-white-guitars-and-drums.”
    NME: “I hear outtakes of Tom Petty, Dire Straits, Queen, David Bowie, even the Boomtown Rats.”
    Melody Maker: “In The Pouring Rain is a blant lift from Springsteen’s Hungry Heart, Words From Heaven sounds like something by Bonnie Tyler being vigorously rear-mounted by David Bowie… an orchestration whose overpowering stridency grimly disregards any potential notion of sensitivity for melodic or dramatic nuance.”
    Record Mirror: “… Bob playing Bruce Springsteen (In The Pouring Rain), Bob borrowing Dire Straits licks (August Was A Heavy Month), Bob touting urban rock n’ roll clichés (Love Like A Rocket and <When I Was Young) with all the conviction of a Las Vegas registry office.”
    Smash Hits: “… a sort of sophisticated sort of ‘Adult Orientated Rock’ thingie (rather like a very poetic Feargal Sharkey record)…”

  • Production values
  • NME: “You even admit in your typically, shuffling humble way that your producer Rupert Hine has made some ‘pretty ropey ideas sound good’. Ropey is the word, Bob.”
    Melody Maker: “…harshly over-lit by the spuriously grand musical settings, the sheer bombast and buffoonery of Rupert Hine’s production.”

  • The special guests
  • Music Week: “Credits read like a pop Who’s Who…”
    Sounds: “The record is stuffed with stars demurely listed at the foot of the sleeve…”
    No.1: “Dave Stewart has got a lot to answer for in restoring Bob’s confidence – for which he thanks Stewart on the sleeve. Despite the involvement of the Eurythmics, Midge Ure, Alison Moyet, Jools Holland and Eric Clapton, Geldof fails…”
    NME: “I could snigger as the whole with-a-little-help-from-my-friends ambience of Deep In The Heart Of Nowhere. Alfie Moyet, Midge and the Eurythmics, Eric Clapton… they’re all here…”

  • Songs released as singles
  • NME: “I heard your hit record This Is The World Calling and just knew you’d sat down with your producer and worked out a way to get ‘world’ in to the title.”
    Record Mirror: “For sheer stodginess, This Is The World Calling has been pretty unbeatable recently…I Cry Too is a bloated expression of the most public kind of intimacy: a confessional love song whose private emotions are writ large in capital letters across an italic arrangement of flatulent synthesizer fanfares, shrieking female voices, drums that sound like footsteps on your heart and keyboard crescendos that make your teeth ache…. Love Like A Rocket, a laboured coda to Ray Davies’ Waterloo Sunset is simply Elton John revamping the tired signatures of Rat Trap.”
    No.1: “Plaintive, agonized warblings spew forth monotonously bewailing lost love, lives and humanity and the depressing state of the world today, a la This Is The World Calling. The only let-up is the twee 70s knee-jerker (and possible forthcoming single) Love Like A Rocket.”

  • Bob in the world of pop
  • Sounds: “Geldof has never grasped the appeal of throwaway music. His heart is all rock (and roll) and he builds up songs like monuments.”
    NME: “All I’m going to say is that once again you fail to cut it as a POP STAR.”

  • In a nutshell
  • Sounds: “… just another piece of old rock.”
    NME: “You know as well as I do that Deep In The Heart Of Nowhere just won’t do.”
    Melody Maker: “… the listener is left with only one question: is that it? And I’m afraid it is.”
    Music Week: “…much of the LP somewhat lacks the dynamism of the man himself.”
    Record Mirror: “Deep In The Heart Of Nowhere is an unmitigated disaster.”
    Smash Hits: “… the sad thing is that he doesn’t write very good pop songs any more.”
    No.1: “Sadly, predictably bad.”

    Well, that told him, didn’t it?

    NEW SINGLES on sale from Jan. 26
    Kim WILDE Kids In America (RAK RAK327)
    FIVE STAR Stay Out Of My Life (Tent PB41131)
    Bob GELDOF Love Like A Rocket (Mercury BOBG102)
    The SMITHS Shoplifters Of The World Unite (Rough Trade RT195)
    Paul YOUNG Why Does A Man Have To Be Strong (CBS YOUNG3)


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