In the 1980s, the electronic dance-pop band Book of Love released the club favorites “Boy,” “I Touch Roses” and “You Make Me Feel So Good.” A co-ed quartet from New York City, the band signed with Seymour Stein’s Sire Records, home to Madonna, Talking Heads, the Ramones, the Pretenders, the Smiths and the Cure. In 1985, Book of Love’s fresh-out-of-art-school members made their first national tour, opening for another Sire act, Depeche Mode.
Despite the tours, dance hits and songs in the movies Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Silence of the Lambs, mainstream success eluded Book of Love. By the early 1990s, during grunge rock’s heavy, angry surge in popularity, melodic dance music was out of time.
“It was difficult for us during the ’90s,” Book of Love singer Susan Ottaviano remembered from her home in New York. “I don’t know if anyone wanted to hear melodic pop songs then. We lost the lust for it and went in different directions.”
In 1993, Ottaviano and her bandmates Ted Ottaviano (Susan and Ted Ottaviano are not related) Jade Lee and Lauren Roselli disbanded without animosity. “I’m proud that we did the best we could and that we were kind to each other,” Ottaviano said.
That amicable separation left the door open for Book of Love reunions. More importantly, the band’s fans didn’t forget the songs that saved their lives.
In January, by popular demand, Notefornote/Rhino Records released BOOK OF LOVE, The SIRE Years (1985-1993). The new retrospective follows the 2016 release of MMXVI – The 30th Anniversary Collection and the band’s accompanying 30th anniversary tour. The band’s recent albums and the touring were all made possible by fans’ enduring affection for the Book of Love catalog.
“The legacy we have is a cult following,” Ottaviano said. “Our fans are so devoted and the music has meant so much to them. And that’s a lot more rewarding than if a bunch of people come to our shows with their one song. It’s not a one-hit wonder tour.”
High points in Book of Love’s discography include “Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls.” A Billboard Hot 100 single, it was among the early songs to address the AIDS epidemic.
“Strangers in the night exchanging glances,” Ottaviano sings. “But sex is dangerous. I don’t take my chances. … In this day and age in a city full of fear.”
“Quite a few of our songs struck a chord for people who felt different, who were looking for something else in their lives,” Ottaviano said. “The songs rang true to them. We’re still meeting those people and it’s awesome. It really makes it worth it.”
Book of Love
One Eyed Jacks
Saturday, March 24