Love Plus One

Album: Pelican West (1982)
Charted: 3 37
  • "Love Plus One" was the first of four UK Top 10 hits from Haircut 100's debut album, and their only song to crack the Hot 100 in America. Led by 20-year-old Nick Heyward, the group was a sensation in their homeland, winning over the British music press with an unusual blend of horns, percussion and completely nonsensical lyrics that brought about a feeling of tranquil joy. They were also utterly naïve and non-threatening, which was reflected in their anodyne outfits of sensible sweaters and trousers tucked into their socks.

    Heyward, their songwriter, used love as a theme for most of their songs, but being so young his reference points were undeveloped. The result can be heard on this track:

    Ring, ring, ring, ring
    When I call love
    Love plus one
  • There are very prominent marimbas in this song, which the group's producer, Bob Sargeant, came up with. Early on this section is followed by a soprano sax part played by band member Phil Smith. Later, the sax and the marimbas play together. With flourishes of steel drum and bongos, it's a very distinctive track.

    Nick Heyward credits Sergeant, known for his work with the English Beat, for finding this sound. "You can hear everything on 'Love Plus One,' but it's punchy," he said in a Songfacts interview. "Bob Sargeant was lovely to work with. We were young and we saw him as our George Martin. He was this person who organized everything properly. He knew how to make singles."
  • This song owes its American success to its video, which was directed by David Mallet. British bands, especially those with heartthrob lead singers like Haircut 100, often made videos to air across Europe, but in America videos were rarely seen until MTV launched in 1981. When they did, many of their videos came from Mallet, who used lots of striking imagery, like David Bowie as a clown in "Ashes To Ashes." For the "Love Plus One" video, Mallet went with a tribal motif set on an island of savages. Heyward appears in a loincloth swinging from a rope, and various beauties show up in equally skimpy dress. This stuff played very well on MTV, which aired it quite often at a time when their selection was lean.
  • When Haircut 100 set out to make their second album, they went minus one because Nick Heyward left the group, claiming they wanted to follow the same formula from their debut, Pelican West. Heyward started a solo career and the band released that second album, Paint and Paint, in 1984 with percussionist Marc Fox moving to lead vocals. It went nowhere, and the band split. Heyward fared better with his solo debut, but never came close to his Haircut 100 success. The band got back together for the 2004 VH1 series Bands Reunited, and have made sporadic appearances since.
  • A line in this song really tweaked some listeners:

    Where does it go from here?
    Is it down to the lake I fear?


    According to Heyward, Paul Weller took him to task for that one. He also told Melody Maker that there is a lot more to it. "In my mind I know exactly what that song means. When I sing, 'Is it down to the lake I fear?,' I know what place, what person and everything. But nobody else does."


    The group toured America but couldn't grow their audience there. "Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)," their first UK single, was released as the follow-up to "Love Plus One" in the US, but it stalled at #101, in large part because the video was set in a bowling alley, not a tropical island where beautiful women are boiled for comic effect. They are generally considered one-hit-wonders in the States.

Comments: 5

  • Edward Taylor from Dorset, UkSome time ago, Nick Heyward was interviewed on British TV and said that the "down to the lake I fear" line referred to the Falklands War (the South Atlantic was allegedly the "lake" in question). However, given that that conflict was in 1982 and I believe Love Plus One was recorded in 1981, I have my doubts about that!
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 26th 1982, Haircut 100 performed "Love Plus One" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    One month earlier on May 6th, 1982 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #89; and on August 1st it peaked at #37 (for 1 week) and spent 17 weeks on the Top 100...
    On the day of the sextet's appearance on 'Bandstand' the song was at #49 on the Top 100...
    This was their only record to make the Top 100 in the U.S.A.; but in their native England they had four Top 10 records between 1981 and 1982.
  • Kayla from Winnipeg, MbI love this song! It's super catchy, I love Nick's song writing! I just love Nick in general, seriously, how adorable was he??! He's still really good looking nowadays, too! The whole "Pelican West" album is amazing! <3
  • Dirk from Nashville, TnWhere does it go from here, indeed.... This song is crazy catchy. The sax is irresistable. The vocals draw you in. That voice-in-a-can that pops up before the refrain is one of those things you wait for when the song comes on. ...But honestly -- what in the world were these lads trying to communicate here? Down to the lake I fear? Nick, baby -- give us a noun or something to work with.
  • Alma from Laredo, TxI have always loved this song. Takes me back when you could turn on MTV and it be playing. i wish I could see the lyrics and continue to reminese.
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