Guy Chadwick had threatened to make a loud rock record, and by the middle of the opening "You Don't Understand" (which sounds a great deal like the Spencer Davis Group's "I'm a Man"), he had everyone duped. However, the gilded fragility of the following "Crush Me" and "Cruel" throw the listener for a loop, retreating to what made the House of Love the House of Love: well-crafted songs that seem out of time. They don't really sound wholly retro, modern, or futuristic -- though there is something rather classicist about them. That's just one reason why Babe Rainbow went nowhere on the British charts, let alone dying a dustbin death in the States. Singles like "Feel" and "The Girl With the Loneliest Eyes" were simply too subtle to find a home on as many turntables as Nirvana or Pearl Jam at the time, and in the U.K. the flashy Brit-pop scene was just beginning to tighten its vice. In all seriousness, Babe Rainbow should be regarded as much as the band's prior albums. It's nearly as solid as both. It might not have the hazy glow of the debut or the slightly cinematic edge of the punchier follow-up, but the emotional range and level of songwriting still remains. Most who disregard Babe Rainbow will point to the complete absence of guitarist Terry Bickers, which leads to one question. Did they really listen to this? And there's always something romantic about viewing a band's first record as their best and casting off the remainder as bunk, so that's another reason why this apparently loses points. What's more boring than a band's third record, especially when they're no longer on a stylish indie label? That's all malarkey; forget who the band's personnel is, forget how many records they made prior to this, and forget which label released it. Take the record at face value and see if it's not almost everything a guitar pop record should be. Babe Rainbow might not be a classic, but three dollar used-bin stuffers don't get much better.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman