"Love Bites" probably falls into that "difficult second album" category of releases that have sent many bands on a one-way trip to oblivion. It's an easily forgotten album, being sandwiched between the pure energy of "Another Music" and the self-imploding, ecstasy adrenalin-rush of their final album "A Different Kind Of Tension". That's odd as the album contains their most successful single, "Ever Fallen in Love", which has deservedly moved into Classic Single Mansion.
The first thing you'll notice is the cover and lack of any design element. It's very, er...white. There's none of Malcolm Garretts' usual design flair seen on the bands singles and one album up to that point. If you're new to the band, have a search on the Internet for their sleeves and you'll see that they're beautiful pieces of artwork in themselves, from the cut-and-paste ideal of their controversial debut "Orgasm Addict", right through to their swansong "Are Everything".
It's remarkable to think that this album was released barely six months after their debut. In a time where you'll get an album every four years (if you're lucky) from your heroes, this is quite a feat. Still, everyone was doing it back in them there days. From pop-punk to pop in 24 weeks; brilliant!
"Real World" kicks the whole shebang off with Pete again wishing somebody would love him; "I'm in love with somebody/I wish somebody loved me too", a recurring theme we'd seen many times, "What Do I Get?", for example. The whole sound is, I hesitate to use the word `polished', less rough (?) maybe. Next-up is the aforementioned classic "Ever Fallen in Love". The rest of Side One (I'm old fashioned like that) is made up of the rather odd "Operators Manual" and "Just Lust", the b-side to the hit. Then we are treated to two absolute crackers in "Nostalgia" where Pete is telling us how he's surfing on a wave of nostalgia for an age yet to come and "Sixteen Again" which includes some of their best backing vocals ever; you just listen to the boys singing `and then'. Wonderful.
The rest of Love Bites (side two!) starts off with a great little instrumental written by Steve Garvey called walking distance. The other Steve had obviously had a bang on the head around this time as he contributed "Love Is Lies", an acoustic singer/songwriter type tune, which is so un-Diggle like to be untrue. That's not to say it's not a good track, it certainly is, just well, just not very Steve Diggle. Pete then treats us to "Nothing Left" and "ESP", two tracks which really show us the direction he'd take on "A Different Kind Of Tension" a year later. The albums closure is a band-written tour-de-force instrumental called "Late For the Train", it's no Trans Europe Express, but it's a really interesting piece, that would have baffled their contemporaries, I could never imagine The Clash or Gen X doing something similar. This is why, for me, the `Cocks are head and shoulders above the other bands around at the time.
This expanded release gives us an astonishing 34 extra tracks. These range from associated singles and b-sides from the period, the beautiful "Love You More", "Promises" and a raft of Peel sessions and demos, which are always interesting to hear.
I bought this album on release in 1978, I was 13 at the time, and no other record since has had the same impact, it's not my favourite album of all time or anything, but it does have a special place. I've bought this album a few times over the years in its different guises and have no hesitation of buying it again.
I once read that Paul McCartney bought all his kids copies of "Pet Sounds" to show them how beautiful music can be, he should've given them a copy of this too.
Love bites, you know.