“Doctor Love” (Gold Mind) 1977
by Andrew Mason
Few know that during the creation of one of disco’s most popular anthems, a real doctor was involved. “I had a heart attack the night I did ‘Doctor Love,’ ” says Tom Moulton about mixing this dance classic.
First Choice began in the late ’60s as the Debonettes, a female vocal trio led by powerhouse singer Rochelle Fleming. Based in Philadelphia, they were discovered in 1972 by a DJ at WDAS who brought them to the attention of Norman Harris. Harris, deeply involved in the Philly music scene as an in-demand guitarist, in turn encouraged Stan Watson to sign them to his Philly Groove label, where the group, now renamed First Choice, put out two well-received but modestly selling albums, Armed and Extremely Dangerous and The Player. Philly Groove basically went into hibernation in 1974 when Arista Records took over their distribution, and when Harris formed his own label in 1976, one of his initial signings was First Choice. Harris’s new label, Gold Mind, would take advantage of his strong relationship with the Cayre brothers, owners of Salsoul, and use the distribution channels of the larger label.
“Doctor Love” was the fourth single released by the label, and the first mixed by Moulton. “Ken Cayre at Salsoul had played me an acetate,” says Moulton, “and I told him, ‘I want to mix that record.’ ” It quickly became the biggest hit of both the group and the new label. Released in early 1977, by summer it had exploded out of the clubs—where First Choice’s music had always been popular—and was making a strong showing on the airwaves.
“The timing on it varied,” remembers Moulton of the recording. “When Earl [Young] changes his hi-hat pattern, the tempo slows down. I was going out of my mind trying to make it work. Suddenly, as I was raising my arms for something, I felt electric shocks. Ooh boy. But I ignored it and kept working. Each piece of the mix I did, I had to varispeed the mul- titrack, manually. This way, the tempo gradually changed, but you couldn’t tell, because I was changing it so slowly.
“After we put it all together, I said, ‘Take me to the hospital.’ I went there, and my heart was out of rhythm. They had to shock me. The doctor said, ‘My God, how long ago did this happen?’ When I told him it had been three hours, the doctor called me all kinds of names and asked me, ‘What have you been doing that’s more important than your life?’ I said, ‘Finishing “Doctor Love.” ’ I saw him a year later for a checkup, and he remembered me. He said, ‘You know, you were right; you did the right thing.“Doctor Love” was worth it!’ ”
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