If you’ve listened to dance music in any capacity since about 2001 you’ve likely heard a version of Layo & Bushwacka’s “Love Story” vocal in a thousand and one tracks. That vocal is really catchy and instantly puts asses on the dancefloor, but you probably didn’t know the history of the track. If you’re curious, read on and learn a little something.
The primary female vocal was done by Julie McKnight for Kings of Tomorrow aka New York-based house producer Sandy Rivera. It was released in 2000 and was a Billboard Dance Chart #1.
The hook features Nina Simone’s “Rags & Old Iron” which you should instantly recognize in the first 2 verses. I never knew that Nina was singing “Rags old iron rags old iron, All he was buying was just rags and old iron…” until I started to dig into the tracks history. As it is you can’t tell what she’s really singing in “Love Story” because of the added effects.
The beat of the track follows the bassline from Devo’s “Mongoloid.”
All those bits and pieces came together for Layo & Bushwacka in 2002 and it was released to much fanfare on XL Recordings. The original vocal version is a progressive house track with Julie McKnight’s vocals as the centerpiece of their 4 on the floor plodder. Ironically the track was really successful but didn’t chart as well as Kings of Tomorrow’s original and topped out at #4 on the Billboard Dance Charts. Not that that really measures the tune’s actual success, but it is an interesting footnote.
Bushwacka even knocked out a trance-ish remix of his own track in the same year as the original release.
Stanton Warriors did a breaks version on yet another remix in 2002.
Finally a proper, authorized, house remix was done by Tim Deluxe for XL Recordings in 2003. Maybe it’s the drum&bass fan in me, but this seems more BPM appropriate to the vocal and closer to the original Kings of Tomorrow track.
And of course there were several
unauthorized drum&bass versions which were, allegedly, written by B-Key, Aquasky, and Fred V, respectively.
The B-Key version is the most well known and my personal favorite. I might have done things with this track as a mood music…ya know…things. Unfortunately the quality of the white label release was terrible, it sort of exists in this Love Story purgatory. If you have a copy and it sounds halfway decent then let me know, because I’d like to hear it.
**Update 10/28/16** B-Key confirmed on Facebook that a version of his bootleg received a legit release as the b-side to a Roni Size remix of another L&B track. That’s fascinating and I’m sure it sounds a million times better than the single-sided white label.
The Fred V version is available for free HERE. RIP
Aquasky’s meh version.
I’ve heard High Contrast did a boot too, but I couldn’t find a clip of it or much information beyond “so and so heard him play it this one time at that one place.” If it exists it’s likely buried in a pile of old ass dubplates that will never see the light of day.
Just yesterday Viper Recordings artist Smooth used the McKnight vocal in a freebie he’s titled “Timeless.” The track is a liquid funk jam, which really fits with the vocal and is well done. If it had the full “Love Story” vocal it’d be as good as the B-Key’s (alleged) bootleg.
Ministry of Sound released a mash-up of the original “Finally” and “Love Story” on one of their nameless compilations floating around the world. It’s not ground breaking and all it does it add a few more drum stabs and a saxophone solo (wtf?!).
There’s even a happy hardcore version of the track with chipmunk vocals, but who wants to hear that shit?
I doubt we’ve heard the end of the “Love Story” saga. If Layo and Bushwacka need to make a house or car payment we might see it re-released on a best-of-the-2000s compilation or maybe That’s What I Call Dance Music Vol. 93892342789.