As the new year chimes ring, the musicologists of Britain gather to ponder what the ‘sound of’ the coming year will be. The BBC even runs a ‘Sound Of’ poll every January – recent winners including Adele, Sam Smith and, um, 50 Cent. Anyway… the point being that if you were to wonder what the ‘sound of’ 1968 might be, you could do worse than checking out this next #1.
Everlasting Love, by The Love Affair (their 1st and only #1)
2 weeks, from 31st January – 14th February 1968
Because ‘Everlasting Love’ sounds very sixties – you could place it straight away – but it also sounds fresh and new, an update on what’s gone before. It’s soulful, with heavy hints of Motown, and a loveable garage feel to it. And it’s a record that blasts in at full speed…
We soar on drums, and horns, and then a very funky bass riff. Hearts go astray, Leaving hurt when they go… The singer has ended things too early with his love, and now he’s begging to be taken back. Open up your eyes, Then you’ll realise, Here I stand with my, Everlasting love… It’s the hit single equivalent of someone standing drunk under your window at 2am… Need you by my side, Girl to be my bride…
But whereas someone singing drunkenly under your window at 2am is rarely a pleasant experience, ‘Everlasting Love’ is a lot of fun. It’s a relentless disc, one that grabs you and brings you along with it, never once letting up. You could accuse it of being cheesy, and a little saccharine, but you can’t get a word in. So you give up and just enjoy the ride. It’s that kind of song. It’s basically one big chorus from start to finish.
The most interesting bits of the song are musical – the little fills in-between lines. The blasts of horn, the bass and the drum rolls, and the snatch of what sounds like a flute and a triangle (I’m probably very wrong about that) before the glorious fade-out. ‘Everlasting Love’ was originally recorded in a Motown style by Robert Knight, in the US. Listen to his version here – it’s good, but doesn’t have anywhere near as much Ooomph as the Love Affair version.
The Love Affair were yet another British soul group, following in the steps of Georgie Fame, The Foundations and The Small Faces. I listed the Small Faces last there as Love Affair’s lead singer, Steve Ellis, sounds a lot like Steve Marriot. The band later admitted that Ellis was the only member to actually feature on this recording – all the instruments were played by session musicians. Controversy! But, we are not here to judge how ‘real’ a record is. We are here to enjoy, and this is a very enjoyable record regardless of who played on it.
Love Affair had a few more Top 10s – this was their first big hit – before fading from view as the decade ended. Ellis left in 1969 and the rest split up in the early seventies. ‘Everlasting Love’ has made more of a lasting impression – it’s been a Top 40 hit, in a variety of versions, in the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s. Sadly, it seems that it couldn’t be revived in the 2010s…
So, after a bit of a false start from Georgie Fame and two infamous serial killers, 1968 is a go-go. I can’t quite explain it, but there’s something very forward-facing and modern sounding about this disc, something that says ‘Welcome to the late-sixties!’ And I’m here for it!