Brooklyn-born and -bred, Arnie Joseph’s performing career stretched back nearly 20 years to the end of the doo-wop era, his voice lent to countless groups, though he had nary a recording session to his name. By the mid-1960s, Joseph had found his natural affinity for the drums and spent a few years working strictly as a drummer, including a stint with Leo (brother of Lloyd) Price’s band through the end of the decade. 1970 found him leading the Claim Jumpers, a ubiquitous club act in the outer boroughs, backing and opening for many a major artist. Joseph took the stage name Arnie Love and managed the rare feat of singing lead while playing drums. In 1973, Love packed up his kit and his falsetto and struck out on his own. Side-tracked chasing a woman Mobile, Alabama, he there hooked up with a heavy funk act called The Family, keeping his skills sharp while working a day job as a porter. Six years later, he returned to Brooklyn. Arnie Love was going solo, and he wanted the world to know it.
Through a mutual acquaintance, the worlds of Tap Records impresario Jeremiah Yisrael and Arnie Love finally collided. Though Love was suspicious of Yisrael’s lack of experience and skill, co-producer Gene Redd’s steady hand allayed his concerns. Three of Love’s originals were targeted: “Breakout,” “Heaven Really Knows,” and “Stop And Make Up Your Mind.” The three instrumental tracks were a mess of strings too high in the mix and slightly off key, but the sessions did capture a passionate vocal from Love. Jeremiah of course participated, but he was out of his league when it came to the intricacies of the studio. He nearly sabotaged the whole affair, leaving master tapes on a subway car, one stop away from forever lost—miraculously, an alert rider returned them to the studio. Yisrael took a more managerial role, shopping the material to various labels for widespread promotion and distribution. But Jeremiah’s forte was not yet found—he was too paranoid of some imagined scam to execute any deal. The decision was made to go it alone, and there was nothing Arnie Love could do about it.
Tap Records’ inaugural 12” single was issued in the fall of 1981—to universal indifference. The entire affair had been just a cut above “bootleg” before, and the platter’s taped-on track list continued in this trajectory. Promotion and distribution were out the window, and the “mini album,” like a baby crawling off a houseboat, had hit bottom before anyone even noticed. No one was fazed: more studio time was booked, and the party rolled on. The trio entered Associated Studios at the end of the year to cut “Invisible Wind,” “We’ve Had Enough,” and “Me Myself & I.” They ended up re-tracking the entire first 12”, making significant improvements. From its Rocky-esque early momentum, “Invisible Wind” is the clear standout, delivering an unrelenting five minutes of punchy, pleading horns, synth winds, and slap bass. “We’ve Had Enough” and “Breakout” are at odds lyrically, but Gene Redd erases all doubts with hurried—yet flawless—arrangements. Added to the Tap cadre were backing singers Roberta Rivers and Linda Green—the Lovettes—doubling up the refrains and ensuring eye candy for potential live dates. Those six cuts together would have made an astonishing debut album, but Jeremiah thought it best to break them up and issue one more 12”. A new Tap logo, doodled absentmindedly on a napkin during a phone call, was inserted at the top of this second effort. Yisrael even had “mini album” stickers printed up and slapped on the cover. The record bombed, but it hardly seemed to matter. Jeremiah and Gene were already on to the next project, leaving Arnie Love in the proverbial—and quite invisible—wind.
Arnie Love toiled in the studio well into 1983, endlessly recording “Love’s Quarrel” at Sorcerer Sound in a misguided attempt at perfection. Frustrated that, despite all their collective efforts, there wasn’t a single song of his available in any store or played on any station, Love pushed Jeremiah to seek a better outlet for his material. They met with Eric Matthews of Prelude, an apparently perfect home for Love’s idiosyncratic approach. The meeting went well but no contract was tendered. Days later, Love got a call directly from Matthews. He liked Arnie Love as an artist but wasn’t interested in any of the Tap material that Jeremiah brought to the table. Matthews wanted Arnie for his own label, Radar, but wouldn’t barter for his contract. He advised Arnie to simply change his performing name to Arnie’s Love and sign a new deal with his freshman label. The resulting lawsuit drove a wedge between Arnie and Jeremiah, guaranteeing that all the material recorded as Arnie Love would be iced, almost permanently. Love’s decision was somewhat vindicated, however, when the aptly titled “I’m Out Of Your Life” charted for Radar. Love’s lasting legacy is out there somewhere in the form of a child he sired with a secretary that Jeremiah had “given” him. Arnie Love saw his son bundled tightly in his mother’s arms on a New York street corner a week after the boy’s birth, and then never again.
- Arnie Love & The Lovelettes Breakout
- Arnie Love & The Lovelettes Stop And Make Up Your Mind
- Arnie Love & The Lovelettes Heaven Really Knows
- Arnie Love & The Lovelettes We Had Enough
- Arnie Love & The Lovelettes Me,Myself & I
- Arnie Love & The Lovelettes Invisible Wind
- Arnie Love & The Lovelettes Love's Quarrel