Forever No. 1: Captain and Tennille’s ‘Love Will Keep Us Together’

Forever No. 1 is a brand new Billboard sequence that pays particular tribute to the just lately deceased artists who achieved the best honor our charts have to supply -- a Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 single -- by taking an prolonged look again on the chart-topping songs that made them a part of this unique membership. Here, we honor the late Daryl "The Captain" Dragon by diving again into his and Toni Tennille's first No. 1 hit as Captain and Tennille, with the Neil Sedaka cowl "Love Will Keep Us Together." 

For a couple of years within the mid-'70s, Captain & Tennille had been about as highly effective a power as existed on the Billboard Hot 100. Over an 18-month span from mid-1975 to late-1976, the duo notched a powerful 5 prime 5 hits on the chart, together with a canopy of The Miracles' "Shop Around" and the endearingly foolish ballad "Muskrat Love." Only one tune from that bunch topped the itemizing, nevertheless: "Love Will Keep Us Together," arguably the duo's signature tune, and positively one of many defining pop hits of its period. 

Captain & Tennille had shaped years earlier when Daryl Dragon and Toni Tennille met in 1972 on the set of the ecology-themed musical Mother Earth, which Tennille was co-writing, and of which Dragon joined the manufacturing as a reside keyboardist. Dragon subsequently really helpful Tennille as a substitute keyboardist to the Beach Boys, with whom he had beforehand toured for a number of years -- and whose Mike Love had dubbed him "Captain Keyboard," in the end inspiring his eventual nickname and persona as "The Captain," together with a particular captain's hat in public appearances. Tennille was accepted, and when her "Beach Girl" tour of obligation was completed, she and Dragon started a artistic partnership as Captain & Tennille, and had been signed to Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss' legendary label A&M Records. 

With A&M, the duo recorded a debut album, however had been nonetheless brief one upbeat tune -- till label A&R man Kip Cohen performed them a tune from '60s hitmaker Neil Sedaka's 1973 album The Tra-La Days Are Over, a jaunty ode to romantic dedication entitled "Love Will Keep Us Together." Sedaka's '70s comeback was already starting abroad, the place a number of cuts from Tra-La would change into U.Okay. prime 40 hits, and would begin in earnest stateside in 1975, starting along with his pop smash "Laughter in the Rain." But on the time, "Together" was only a little-known deep reduce on an album that did not see U.S. launch, by an artist who hadn't scored a Hot 100 hit since 1966. Nonetheless, in accordance with Fred Bronson's entry for "Love" in his compendium The Billboard Book of No. 1 Hits, the duo knew as quickly as Cohen performed the monitor that it was precisely the tune their album was lacking. 

Released because the title monitor to their May 1975 debut, Captain & Tennille's model of "Love Will Keep Us Together" added some funky keyboards to the unique association, made the beat a bit of extra inflexible, and undid Sedaka's dramatic tempo change on the bridge. It additionally modified the pronouns the place crucial ("Whenever some sweet-talking woman comes alongside...") from Sedaka and co-writer Howard Greenfield's lyric -- which was originally inspired by the songwriting duo's longtime partnership, and considerably paradoxically, their inevitable artistic cut up following a sequence of business misfires -- to suit as a conventional love tune from singer Tennille's perspective.

But the quilt's biggest adjustment got here an addition to the tune's outro. Following an surprising key change, Tennille provides a hat tip to the tune's co-composer, singing "Sedaka is again!" -- a reference to the daring title of his 1974 reside album, beforehand the one document on which any model of "Love Will Keep Us Together" was obtainable in America. By the discharge of the Captain & Tennille model, the outro had already confirmed prophetic: "Laughter within the Rain" hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 in February of 1975, a peak Sedaka would match once more earlier than 12 months's finish along with his Elton John-assisted "Bad Blood."

Even with these two No. 1s of his personal that 12 months, Captain & Tennille's model of "Love Will Keep Us Together" would rapidly go on to change into the largest Sedaka-written chartbuster of 1975. Debuting at No. 98 on the Hot 100 chart dated April 19, 1975, the tune would certain to the highest of the tally, hitting No. 1 in June, 10 weeks later. It spent 4 weeks at No. 1 -- the longest-reigning chart-topper of that 12 months -- and completed as the No. 1 tune of 1975 on Billboard's year-end chart. So pervasive was the tune's success that the duo even recorded a Spanish-language remake of the hit, titled "Por Amor Viviremos," which ended up charting on the Hot 100 concurrently with "Love," ultimately peaking at No. 49 that September. 

It's an applicable No. 1 tune for 1975, because it's arduous to think about a tune extra emblematic of the place pop music was on the time. The decade's soft-rock increase, largely shepherded in by huge early-'70s success of The Carpenters -- whose female-singer, male-musician/producer dynamic Captain & Tennille feared being accused of ripping off -- had met with a latent early-'60s pop revivalism, seen within the mid-decade comebacks of Sedaka, the Beach Boys and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, in addition to the large success of the 1962-set 1973 teen comedy American Graffiti. "Love Will Keep Us Together" discovered itself within the candy spot between them, with a bit of of Billy Preston and Stevie Wonder's era-marking keyboard wizardry within the tune's growling keys and ARP synth solo combined in, too. Altogether, it sounds just like the very peak of '70s pop-rock, in near the ultimate second earlier than disco and punk got here round to rewrite the foundations for the style in direction of the last decade's finish. 

The success of "Love Will Keep Us Together" can be a testomony to its mix of Sedaka and Greenfield's peerless songcraft with Captain & Tennille's expertise as performers. The composition pulls out an entire arsenal of traditional pop tips, from the tune's title showing first because the verse's opening line after which not once more till the very finish of the refrain, to the bridge introducing minor-key doubt to the lyric earlier than a brand new triumphant chorus affirms the tune's thesis, to the impossibly Motown "Stop!" originally of the refrain. Meanwhile, you won't even understand till you watch reside efficiency video of the tune -- like this excellent rendition from '70s musical selection sequence Midnight Special -- simply what number of rattling pianos and synths are going without delay on this factor; each Dragon and Tennille are taking part in two separate riffs on two separate keyboards on the similar time. The intense layering makes the tune putting, however doesn't completely overwhelm the melody, as a result of Tennille's hearty, nearly husky vocal is so sturdy and commanding, as she actually directs the listener all through the tune ("Think of me, babe, every time...," "Look in my coronary heart and let love...") 

"Love Will Keep Us Together" kick-started Captain & Tennille's formidable run within the Hot 100's prime tier, adopted by top-five peaks for the Tennille-penned ballad "The Way I Want to Touch You" (No. four, Nov. 1975), the equally Sedaka-written "Lonely Nights (Angel Face)" (No. three, March 1976) and the aforementioned "Shop Around" (No. four, July 1976) and "Muskrat Love" (No. four, Nov. 1976). Those hits had been unfold throughout 1975's Love Will Keep Us Together LP and 1976's Song of Joy, the duo's two albums to succeed in the highest 10 of the Billboard 200 album chart (peaking at Nos. 2 and 9, respectively). So resounding was Captain and Tennille's success as a recording act that they had been ultimately given their very own self-titled TV selection present, which ran for one profitable season, earlier than the pair determined to return focus to their music. 

Meanwhile, "Love Will Keep Us Together" would reside on effectively after its preliminary launch, successful the 1976 Grammy for document of the 12 months, and provoking future covers from artists as various as Wilson Pickett, Flea, Mae West and Nickelback. Even "Love Will Tear Us Apart," the enduring 1980 single from post-punk paragons Joy Division, was mentioned to have had its fatalistic title designed as an ironic response to the Captain and Tennille AM radio commonplace. What's extra, the tune would come to hold additional that means for the real-life couple, who had been wed in November of 1975 and stayed married for the subsequent 4 many years, although they might ultimately divorce in 2014. (TMZ's headline for his or her article asserting the cut up, after all: "Love WON'T Keep Us Together.")

About the Author