Love Sensation by Loleatta Holloway, Gold Mind Records 1980
Love Sensation was initially released as a 12” single in 1980 on Gold Mind records, a small disco label run by Norman Harris, which was distributed through Salsoul. The track brings together a disco dream team: It’s Written and produced by Dan Hartman of ‘Relight My Fire’ fame, mixed by the godfather of the disco mix Tom Moulton and sung by the soul of disco herself, Loleatta Holloway. It’s what you might call a stellar lineup.
Loleatta Holloway was born in Chicago in 1946 and, as with so many of the finest vocalists of the era, came through the hit factory known as the Baptist church. Gospel runs through the woman’s veins, and she began her career as a backing vocalist with gospel group Albertina Walker and the Caravans. She started releasing as a solo artist in the early 70s, with a blend of funk and soul, but by the middle of the decade she’d found her true calling, unleashing that unearthly voice to devastating effect within the complimentary framework of emotionally charged disco. On Love Sensation she’s on fire, belting it out pneumatically and effortlessly gliding through the kind of range you’d usually find in an entire choir.
The song itself is so well written that it appears simply as a beautifully arranged sequence of hooks, one after another, again and again. The orchestration is warm and organic, with bass guitar, rhythm guitar, piano, strings and live drums all yoked together by the master of the mix himself, the mighty Tom Moulton. Few people have understood the dark art of mixing and arrangement as comprehensively as Mr Moulton, and he uses all of his wily ways to keep everything ticking over here. It’s constantly on the verge of exploding into a million pieces, but just when it threatens to go overboard, Tom’s there with his ample moustache, reining everything in like a horse whisperer breaking in a wild mustang. The overall effect is one of controlled hysteria.
In terms of legacy, Love Sensation is almost the disco equivalent of the amen break. Everyone and their auntie has had a pop, taken a bite, used and abused it. Probably most famous of all is 1989 Italian catastrophe ‘Ride on Time’ by Black Box (who didn’t properly clear the sample and ended up getting sued for their efforts) but Love Sensation has been all over hip hop and house records for decades now, and new funky deep tech latin whatever remix versions of it pop up endlessly.
Thirty two years on, the original 12” version of Love Sensation is still the best, and it serves as a perfect example of the power of disco in it’s original form: high octane, emotional soul music with extended, experimental arrangements reflecting an unblinking commitment towards making people dance.
By Joe Evans