Review Summary: Labeled by some as a “One-Hit Wonder”, House Of Pain prove that there is more to them than ‘Jump Around’. But just in case you disagree, their worldwide smash is included twice here.
In 1990, Erik Schrody (better known as Everlast) was an up-and-coming Irish-American rapper that was fortunate enough to have Ice T executive produce his debut album ‘Forever Everlasting’. Unfortunately, that release bombed. In response, the raspy-voiced performer decided to forget about that failure – and hope everyone else forgot as well – by making his next album under the House Of Pain moniker. In doing this, he brought in DJ Lethal (who later was to be a member of Limp Bizkit) and high school friend Danny Boy O’Connor. Wow… What a difference a repackaging can make!
Of course, it also helped immensely that House Of Pain’s debut single would be such a huge crossover hit that took the world by storm. Still being played at sporting events, on television and in films to this day, ‘Jump Around’ was hugely influenced by production from DJ Muggs; the man responsible for masterminding Cypress Hill’s debut album. From the annoyingly contagious siren-like screech that weaves in and out of the song, to the excellent combination of old-school and dancey music that backs up Everlast’s assured vocal delivery, everything clicks perfectly in this sublime and infectious piece. While the lyrics are not mind-boggling, their simplicity and ability to be recited by all and sundry resonate with a mainstream audience.
Further reference to Cypress Hill is made on ‘Put Your Head Out’, a cut which contains an effective verse from the distinct and nasally B-Real. Unfortunately, a not too dissimilar cameo from Son Doobie (of Funkdoobiest) on ‘House and the Rising Son’ fails to reap the same rewards, ultimately resulting in one of the album’s least successful tracks.
Of course, there is another vocalist in House Of Pain… Or is there? Well, sort of, since Danny Boy only performs on 5 of the 14 proper tracks here. In pretty much every one of these cases though, he is definitely a positive with his clear and smooth vocals providing an impressive flow. On 2nd single ‘Shamrocks and Shenanigans’, his upbeat and energetic delivery gives the cut real life and combines well in an opposites attract kind of way with Everlast’s raspier style. While later, on another album highlight, ‘Put On Your Sh!t Kickers’, the 2 rappers use dueling vocals to excellent effect.
House Of Pain do not exactly set new trends from a lyrical standpoint as they too often fall back on the topic of boasting about themselves. However, they sufficiently fill their lines with one thing or another to hook listener’s in. 3rd single ‘Top O The Morning To Ya’ is a great example as it highlights two separate methods… Firstly, there is lacing the lyrics with humor, such as with “You see I’m Irish, but I’m not a leprechaun. You wanna fight, then step up and we’ll get it on”. And then there are anthemic components such as “Extra extra read all about it, how could you doubt it, now scream and shout it. The House Of Pain, soon will reign, over the hip-hop scene, in white gold & green.”
Unfortunately, House Of Pain bite off more than they can chew. In making the album 55 minutes long, it ultimately results in far too much filler as the album progresses. Even when songs are not all that bad, the feeling of deja vu begins to creep in with many of the tracks containing similar horn or scream-like backing music. In addition to ‘Put On Your Sh!t Kickers’, the only real track worth mentioning on the album’s second half is ‘Guess Who’s Back’, due to its light and playful mood providing some much-needed variety. Oh and of course there is the customary dancier remix of the hit single ‘Jump Around’ to close things out!
In truth, the labeling of House Of Pain as a “one-hit wonder” is a little unfair. While the charts and mainstream populous will indeed back up such an assertion, there is more than enough elsewhere on the group’s self-titled debut album to suggest that they were a rather talented outfit. They may not be to everyone’s liking – predominantly due to Everlast’s distinctive vocals – and there is admittedly a lot of filler included here, but there is also a more than sufficient amount of highlights to make up for it all. Definitely enough to make you… “Jump Around… Jump Up, jump up & get down”.
Recommended Tracks: Jump Around, Shamrocks and Shenanigans, Put On Your Sh!t Kickers & Top O’ The Morning To Ya.