Forever tagged ‘The band who didn’t play on their own records’, The Love Affair outsold all except The Beatles in 1968. Formed by the poptastically named 14-year-old drummer Maurice Bacon and fronted by Steve Ellis – one of ‘three Stevies’ of British soul alongside Marriott and Winwood – their heavy mod chops and gobby attitude were both honed on the club circuit.
The finely orchestrated, Spectoresque smashes Everlasting Love and Rainbow Valley only featured Ellis’s voice and session musicians, leading to the accusation the band were fakes.
This three-CD set begs the listener to differ, from the thundering groove of Hush and a harpsichord-drenched Handbags And Gladrags to an eerily atmospheric Walk On Gilded Splinters. The self-penned Could I Be Dreaming and Once Upon A Season are would-be psych classics on a par with The Zombies’ Odessey & Oracle.
The Love Affair’s transition to serious rock, however, was too imitative of Deep Purple and others to succeed. The arrival of vocalist Gus Yeadon and his Jethro Tull flute yielded long-winded, hippiefied flops.
The third CD of Steve Ellis solo material ranges from superb to so-so, but his voice never falters. Gimme Shelter was approached with trepidation by this reviewer but it’s more than respectable./o:p