The Glow of Love is simply the best album Chic never made.
Daryl Easlea 2010-10-12
For many people, Change’s six-track debut album, The Glow of Love, was the first time they encountered Luther Vandross’ gossamer vocals. His performance, so perfect and commanding on the title-track, Searching and, to a lesser extent, A Lover’s Holiday, was what finally gave the New York-based session singer the exposure he needed that led to his successful solo career.
Change was masterminded by Italian producers and writers Jacques Fred Petrus and Mario Malavasi. They initially approached Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of Chic to produce the debut album of their dance collective. Although the duo declined, The Glow of Love is one of the most notable, affectionately slavish copies of the Chic sound ever released.
Recorded in Change’s native Italy with vocals added by Vandross and Jocelyn Shaw/Brown in New York’s Power Station Studios, it is the sound of Studio 54 through a Euro-disco filter. A Lover’s Holiday – one of the standout dance tracks of 1980 – is probably the best of the then-contemporaneous Chic tributes, with its neat, interlocking guitar and bass figure, gang vocals and ex-Chic singer Vandross adding his magic to the chorus. A vivid, female-sung lyric about a disco, a party and making your own entertainment: with its superb bass breakdown three and a half minutes in, it still sounds like tremendous fun 30 years later.
Other standout tracks, Searching and The Glow of Love, provided a perfect showcase for Vandross. Searching is still divine, fading in as if it playing forever in some celestial loop, the tale of a stranger finding love in a strange town. It reached number 11 in the UK in 1980, while The Glow of Love, with its overly sentimental lyrics, established Vandross as the love man of choice for millions around the world.
The rest of the album is somewhat makeweight. It’s a Girl’s Affair is a simple celebration of going out on the town, Angel in My Pocket is forgettable, yet the pulsing beats of The End reveal Petrus and Malavasi’s hi-energy roots. Let’s be frank, that’s neither here nor there when you consider the strength of the three main tracks on The Glow of Love, some of the greatest disco ever captured on album.