This is a very sexual song where Diana Ross sings about the feeling after making love, and wishing it wouldn't end. Apparently, love hangovers are much more benign than traditional hangovers caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
This was the first disco hit for Motown Records. The label was slow to embrace the sound, which was coming out of places like Miami, New York and Sweden - not Detroit. Hal Davis, a producer at the label, thought it was time to try disco, so he put together this track, which changes from the relaxed, slow, cool opening to a rapid uptempo groove. The backing musicians included The Crusaders pianist Joe Sample, guitarist Art Wright (overdubbed later), bass player Henry Davis and drummer James Gadson. According to Davis, the session took place at 2 a.m., and he plied the musicians with shots of Remy Martin.
Diana Ross was not keen on recording a disco song, so producer Hal Davis went out of his way to set the right tone when she recorded her vocals. He scheduled the session at night, when Ross was most agreeable, and had engineer Russ Terrana set up flashing lights in the studio. Before sending her in, Davis had Ross relax with a drink of vodka (her libation of choice). When it came time to record, she kicked off her shoes and got into it, improvising and having a good time. At one point, Ross let out a laugh that made its way onto the record. The vocal was exactly what they were looking for.
Pamela Sawyer (lyrics) and Marilyn McLeod (music), who worked for Motown's publishing arm, Jobete, wrote this song. They also wrote "You Can't Turn Me Off (In The Middle Of Turning Me On)," which was a #12 hit for High Inergy in 1977.
The first single from the album was "I Thought It Took A Little Time (But Today I Fell In Love)," a ballad in the tradition of Ross' earlier hits like "Touch Me in the Morning
" and "Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)
." This was Berry Gordy's call, as he was still leery of disco. Others pegged "Love Hangover" as a hit though, including club DJs that started playing it. The 5th Dimension recorded the song and released it while "I Thought It Took A Little Time" was climbing the charts. This got Gordy's attention, and he quickly put out Ross' version of "Love Hangover" as a single.
On the Hot 100 chart dated April 3, 1976, both versions entered, with Ross at #78 and The 5th Dimension at #95. The same week, "I Thought It Took A Little Time" reached its peak of #47, going no higher as Motown pulled promotion for it to focus on "Love Hangover." With the label behind it, the Ross rendition climbed to #1 in May, spending two weeks at the top of the chart and reinventing Diana Ross as a disco diva. The competing version peaked at #80.
Ross' thoughts on the recording session are noted in the 2007 biography Diana by J. Randy Taraborrelli: "It was a spontaneous thing that we captured on record and if I had to go back in and do it again, I couldn't have. The music was me and I was the music. Things came out of my mouth that I didn't even expect."
Davis was scrambling for a hit at the end of 1975, the same year the Jackson 5 left Motown for Epic Records. "I needed a smash right away," he told Billboard magazine, "because the Jacksons had just left and everybody said, 'Well, it's over, Hal doesn't have the group, what's he going to do?"
When Davis heard the demo of "Love Hangover," he knew he'd found his hit and set up a recording session for that same night.
This was used in the 1977 movie Looking For Mr. Goodbar, starring Diane Keaton. It was also featured on Sex and the City in the 1999 episode "Was It Good For You," the MTV animated series Daria in the 2000 episode "The F Word," and the TV drama Pose in the 2018 episode "Mother of the Year."