Top positive review
top British newcomer group of 1968
on 28 August 2017
(The) Love Affair's five UK hits (peak chart positions given):
- 'Everlasting Love' (1968) #1 (for two weeks)
- 'Rainbow Valley' (1968) #5
- 'A Day Without Love' (1968) #6
- 'One Road' (1969) #16
- 'Bringing Back the Good Times' (1969) #9
The only bigger group in the British singles chart in 1968 than Love Affair (aka The Love Affair) were the Beatles, which was not too shabby for a new recording outfit fronted by an 18-year-old singer, the brilliant Steve Ellis. When he quit the group in late '69, Love Affair were, for all practical purposes, over.
This Repertoire disc presents the group's 1987 LP 'The Everlasting Love Affair' (ironic title, given their hardly lasting existence) in its entirety, while adding as 'bonus tracks' the group's two 1969 UK chart hits, the five B-sides of their hits, and the Italian-language version of 'A Day Without Love', for a generous running-time total of 76:32. The sound mastering is excellent (the LP is stereo, the bonus tracks are mono); and the 16-page accompanying booklet is bursting with colour and includes sleevenotes that recount the whole story of Love Affair and Steve Ellis.
There is little doubt that this compilation peaks with Trk 1, the absolutely dazzling 'Everlasting Love', a superbly constructed pop song given an orchestral arrangement that splits the difference between majestic and rip-roaring: a stunning record to have heard on the radio, especially with such commanding and convincing vocals as Steve Ellis' reigning over it. On its rapid rise to number one in the UK it knocked off the American original (by Nashville-based soul singer Robert Knight), which stalled at #40 (after having reached the Top Ten in many US markets). Everything about the Love Affair version is more dynamic, though when Robert Knight's original was re-released in Britain in 1974 it made the Top 20. (A better comparison might be with Carl Carlton's 1974 more uptempo version that got to #6 in the US.)
The four hit follow-ups, starting with 'Rainbow Valley' (another Robert Knight cover), are all good ones but clearly studio manufactured with orchestral sweetening. Love Affair toured extensively, so there was no question about their being a legitimate band, but they took a major blow to their prestige when it was revealed that session musicians played on their three 1968 hits to the exclusion of band members.
The rest of the album offers ample proof of the band's capabilities: just listen to them rock out on their covers of 'Tobacco Road' and 'Hush' (the latter done in Deep Purple style, probably too much so for comfort). '60 Minutes (Of Your Love)' has them in quasi Memphis R&B mode, and Steve Ellis again convinces on covers of the hit ballads 'First Cut Is the Deepest', 'Please Stay' and 'Handbags & Gladrags'. Their trio of intra-group-penned originals are a bit weird, but only the last one (admittedly throwaway filler) is unlistenable.
Love Affair's 'Everlasting Love', here in all its stereo glory, makes this compilation essential; and most of what follows is also well worth the acquisition.