All right, show of hands — how many of you have ever wondered what an album of Rick Astley B-sides would sound like?
Well, whether you raised your hand or not, here’s your answer: Living in a Box’s second album, 1989’s Gatecrashing. Hooray, right?
All right, fine. But we’re still going to talk about this album — no matter how hard we have to try to come up with something interesting to say. Gatecrashing‘s cutout runs so deep that not even the All Music Guide bothered to review it (or upload the album artwork). I even cheated a little, and hit up some of my fellow Popdosers for their feedback. As you can see, cheaters never prosper:
Q: Do any of you have anything to say about Living in a Box?
Will: All I can say is that when your most memorable song on your debut is the one you’ve named yourself after, do you really need a second album?
David: Not really, except that I thought the song “Living in a Box” was okay.
John: Just that they were Living in a Box with the single, “Living in a Box,” from the album Living in a Box. A cardboard box.
Well, now that we’ve referenced Living in a Box’s sole hit single, “Living in a Box,” from their self-titled debut, I suppose we might as well go ahead and embed it here:
You remember it now, don’t you? I caught the last five seconds of this clip on MTV back in ’87, but I’m seeing the rest of it for the first time; matter of fact, that might go for hearing the song all the way through, too. But here’s what a Top 40 single got you in the ’80s — at least if you were signed to Chrysalis, where everyone was sleeping on piles of dirty Huey Lewis money: A second album, with a thick, glossy booklet; a guitar solo from Brian May (on “Blow the House Down” [download]); and production from Tom Lord-Alge and Dan Hartman. That’s about all it got you, but clearly, that was more than enough.
The most interesting thing about this perfectly anonymous-sounding album, really, is that neither Stock nor Aitken nor Waterman were involved in the writing or recording thereof. There isn’t a single standout track in the bunch, and some of them — like “Touch Sensitive” (download) and the squishy “Room in Your Heart” (download) — are downright bad.
Which is probably part of why, when the Huey Lewis money dried up, Living in a Box was one of the first acts to be pruned from the Chrysalis roster. The market for foppish bands with stupid names had peaked with the Blow Monkeys, so nobody stepped forward with an offer for a new contract, and [insert joke about band members living in actual boxes here]. The end.
…Well, the end except for the awesomely inessential “Razormaid Mix” of “Living in a Box” (download), kindly supplied by our very own John C. Hughes. Getting to the end and finding it should make you feel a little bit better about reading this post…I guess…right?