The group's "Something To Love" album explores the Love aspect of their name. They now plan two others with themes of Togetherness and Devotion.
SUCCESS came to L.T.D. last year in the shape of "Love Ballad" and the album "Love To The World", after quite a few years of waiting patiently in the wings — a time in which the group were hardly idle, since they've spent a good proportion of the eight-odd years that they've been together out working hard and consistently on the road. The Skip Scarborough-pened super soulful tune placed L.T.D. firmly into the upper reaches of both the national and r&b charts, although sadly it didn't actually cross over to the pop charts, despite the fact that it had all the necessary ingredients that could have made it one of the biggest crossover hits of '76. Well, for whatever reason, it didn't (and may we venture to suggest that it might have something to do with promotion) but with quite a few r&b folk, it established the group as a force to be reckoned with.
With their latest A&M album, "Something To Love", a hit single in "Back In Love Again" and a change of producers, the group seems set to capitalize on the success they enjoyed last year and we tracked four members of the group down during a recent whistle-stop day in New York following a performance with Teddy Pendergrass at the Westchester Premier Theatre.
Since their currently successful album (their biggest to day) was produced by Philadelphia's Bobby Martin (who has been more than a little responsible for some of The Manhattan' biggest records in the last couple of years), that seemed like a logical place to begin!
"Well, we hooked up with Bobby because it so happens that we both share the same management. At the time, he was looking for a contract with A&M as a producer anyway and we were frankly having a problem with the guys who produced our last album, Larry & Fonce Mizell."
The group further qualifies the statement. "The problem was a simple one: they were really taking their time to come up with a new product and we needed to have something out there in the streets and we just couldn't keep on waiting. So when it was suggested that we meet with Bobby, we said fine, OK!"
Although Mr. Martin confessed that he wasn't familiar with L.T.D. or their music prior to their meeting and had never really been involved in working with a self-contained unit (L.T.D. is most definitely that — with its eleven members versatile in being able to do many things musically), it seems that their initial contact and the resultant album proved highly satisfying for everyone involved, as well as giving the group a hit album.
"We were all knocked out by Bobby," the group confesses. "There was just a good spiritual match going on between us and then, we really appreciated the difference in the way the man works in the studio. He's more efficient and has much more concern for the artist and how much money and time are being spent on the job. He gets it done!
"And there's no hassle, he's really down and business like in the way he does his job.
"Now the Mizells, they're losers, they have a different way of doing things. But what's really most important to all of us about this album is that there's been a growth, we're reaching more people because the album is more commercial and yet it's still in the vein of the music we've been doing.
"In other words, we don't feel as if we've lost any fans with this album — we've just gained a few more," the team states modestly.
It seems that the success of "Love To The World" as an album prompted quite a number of people into believing it was the group's first album when in fact, there were two before that!
"You could say that 'Love Ballad' put us on the map! Sure, we still have a lot of people who come up to us after the shows and say, hey, they dug us but what's our name? We get used to it, so we just take in a big breath and tell 'em! But seriously, more people do seem to be aware of us now.
"Before, even when we were on the road with people like the Average White Band a couple of years back, nobody really knew too much about us. Nowadays it's changing just by virtue of the kind of big concert stadiums and halls we're playing.
"We're still put into that r&b bag, we haven't crossed over to any extent yet, but that will change with time."
The group feels that their current album continues to state the message in their music.
"Our music has always been love-orientated and we're always trying to say something in there. It's like on the last album we had "Get Your It Together" which was our way of saying get your sh-t together! Because people definitely need to do that to survive and although we do find that people don't listen to lyrics quite as much as they used to, they are still effective.
"It's like "Love Ballad". Several guys have confessed that it really influenced them — it even made a couple of people go out and get married!"
That in itself indicates that the power in the message is definitely there and on the new album L.T.D. point to "Age Of A Showdown" as a song that carries a strong message too.
"Well, now that one has definite religious overtones. It's talking about the situation we find ourselves in today. The way the world is, morally, socially, the problems we have to deal with and how it's up to us to straighten it out. And we're just saying that people have to be aware of what's happening out here so that things can get better because there's no doubt that that showdown is gonna come, and people have to be ready for it.
"And music is the best way we know for communicating to people about what's going on. It's how your music is presented and packaged that influences whether people really get to dig it and we feel a definite responsibility to influence people in a positive way, to make people happy.
"Or, as we say on the album, "Make Someone Smile". It's important to motivate people to do better and be happy."
At this point in time, the group have very definite ideas about the position they want to attain in the music world. "We want to get to that level where, when we perform, it's a special event. Like it was with The Beatles and like it is with groups like Chicago, who just clean up whenever they go out on the road.
"That means being a viable force instead of just having hit records and we all know it takes time and we're prepared for that. We just know it will happen eventually.
There's no doubt that L.T.D. definitely enjoy what they're doing and from all reports, they exude a great deal of energy and excitement on stage. A great deal of that energy has been captured on their latest album so it comes as no surprise to learn that L.T.D. will be working again with Bobby Martin on that.
"This album has been part of a trilogy — this is the 'love' album. The next one will be the 'togetherness' album and of course, the third one will be the 'devotion' album! It was our idea, you can say, a revelation! We're just about to start off into it and we expect to have it finished by around February, after which we're planning to hopefully get over to Europe.
"Before that, we've got to deal with our base, here in the States and continue to establish ourselves so that people will know our names!"
Meanwhile, a whole heap of people must be finding out what L.T.D. is all about since "Back In Love Again" charges to the top of the charts and with a disco version also making much headway, L.T.D. look perched to jump several leaps up the long ladder of success. And it couldn't happen to nicer guys either!
About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of SoulMusic.com and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create SoulMusic.com Records as a leading reissue label.