Sunday, August 30, 2020

"Love Is a House" by Force M.D.'s

Song#:  3242
Date:  08/29/1987
Debut:  97
Peak:  78
Weeks:  9
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  This vocal quartet broke through to the mainstream with their hit "Tender Love," which was featured on their second album Chillin'. The song was written and produced by the Jam & Lewis team and it became the group's second R&B Top 10 reaching #4 while getting to #2 AC and #10 Pop. A couple of follow-up singles made the R&B Top 30, but didn't reach the other charts. The group then set out to record their third album, Touch and Go. This first single was released from the LP and it became their first (and only) #1 at R&B. Like "Tender Love," the tune crossed over to the Pop and AC charts, but it didn't do as well topping out at #79 and #38, respectively. The title track would serve as the second single and get to #10 at R&B, but it failed to chart elsewhere. The LP would just barely do better than Chillin' hitting #12 R&B and #67 Pop (Chillin' got to #14 R&B/#69 Pop).

ReduxReview:  This song kind of irks me. The group really broke through with "Tender Love," which was written and produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. It was the only song Jam & Lewis did with them. By the time the Force M.D.'s were ready to do a new album, I'm guessing they wanted Jam & Lewis back on board, but that team was so in-demand at the time they probably couldn't do it. So if they couldn't get the real deal, it seemed the next best thing was to imitate them. Geoff Gurd and Martin Lascelles wrote this song (with Gina Foster) and produced it for the group and it came off like a weak sequel to Human League's "Human," which was a Jam & Lewis track. This song had similar chords, structure, sounds (that synth swoop), spoken work part, and arrangement as "Human" and other Jam & Lewis tracks. This was no homage to Jam & Lewis. It was blatant rip off, in my opinion. I think they changed it up enough to avoid copyright infringement, but there is no mistaking that this was meant to sound like a Jam & Lewis track. The ploy worked at R&B resulting in a #1 hit, but the mainstream didn't buy it. The song is actually not a bad one, but what grinds my gears is that the writers/producers set out to emulate the other team's work. It's one thing to set a song in a certain style or genre. Around this time many writers/producers were wanting to do their own versions of freestyle or new jack. That's fine. But to imitate the trademark sound and style of another artist (without being a type of tribute) is different. To top it off, the lead singer seems to be doing an impression of Smokey Robinson. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but in this case I think it was more like - we're going to imitate Jam & Lewis in order to get a hit and make money. Sad.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  After Chillin', the group's fortunes started to dwindle. Their fourth album for the Tommy Boy label, Step to Me, did not perform well and it seems the results left them off of the label's roster. A fifth album on an indie label failed to right the ship. Membership changes would take place over the years and oddly in a short span the group would have three members pass away including Antoine "T.C.D." Lundy, who sang lead on "Tender Love" and "Love Is a House." Still, the group soldiered on adding new members and released an album in 2000 titled The Reunion.


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