The Miracles scored their biggest hit with the percolating disco smash "Love Machine." The infectious, high-energy track had dance floors packed back in late 1975 and much of '76. In the song's lyrics, a lover compares himself to a robot or computer who can be programmed to meet all the needs and desires of his mate.
The track was produced by Freddie Perren, a former member of The Corporation - the Motown songwriting/production team responsible for The Jackson 5's early hits. And it was written by Miracles lead singer Billy Griffin and group-mate Warren "Pete" Moore. Griffin replaced Smokey Robinson when he left The Miracles in 1972 to pursue a career as a solo artist. The Baltimore native was only 20 when he became The Miracles new frontman. Griffin's smooth falsetto fits nicely on the upbeat groove, and Miracle Bobby Rogers' playful growls are irresistible. During his tenure with The Miracles, Griffin also sang lead on the Top 10 R&B hits "Do It Baby" and "Don't Cha Love It." A talented and prolific songwriter, Griffin has penned songs for well-known musical acts such as Aretha Franklin, Fergie, The O'Jays, Freda Payne and The Emotions.
The groove for "Love Machine" grew out of an impromptu jam session, according to noted studio bassist Scott Edwards, who laid down the bottom on the track. In our interview with Edwards
, he discussed the recording of "Love Machine" and how they came up with the groove for the song: "A lot of the hits were basically the musicians jamming," said Edwards. "The same thing happened with another tune for Freddie [Perren], The Miracles 'Love Machine.' Same thing. We were just jamming, and Freddie said, 'Do the changes to these chords.' So that's the way a lot of stuff was made."
Some of the other big hits that Edwards played bass on include "You Are the Sunshine of My Life
" (Stevie Wonder), "I Will Survive
" (Gloria Gaynor), "Bad Girls
" (Donna Summer), "Shake Your Groove Thing
" (Peaches & Herb)," "Rhinestone Cowboy
" (Glen Campbell) and "Sara Smile
" (Hall & Oates).
This was the first single off the album City of Angels
, which was the fourth studio album The Miracles recorded without Smokey Robinson. The seven-minute song was cut into two parts; the first part ("Love Machine (Pt. 1)") was released as a single in October of 1975. The track shot to the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 and went to #5 on the Hot Soul Singles chart; it peaked at #3 on the UK Singles chart. The song went on to sell 4.5 million copies worldwide, making it the biggest-selling single of the group's career. It was also The Miracles' longest-running hit, staying on the charts for more than six months. Additionally, "Love Machine" was only the second time that a song by The Miracles reached the top spot on the Hot 100. Their other song to do it was "Tears Of A Clown
," released in 1970.
City of Angels also performed well on the charts. It climbed to #33 in the US and went platinum, with more than a million copies sold. It was an ambitious concept album conceived by Billy Griffin and Pete Moore; the two co-wrote all the tracks on the album. They have said that the album is about life in Los Angeles. It tells the story of a guy who follows his estranged girlfriend to LA, where she hopes to find fame and fortune. However, in an interesting twist of fate, he's the one who becomes the big star. In an interview shortly after the album's release, Moore said that "Love Machine" is about the story's protagonist who describes himself as a "Love Machine" after he becomes a superstar. City of Angels was co-produced by Perren and Moore.
This song has been covered by Wham! and Thelma Houston, and it was featured in the films Planes (2013), Donnie Brasco (1997), The New Guy (2002) and Heavyweights (1995). The track was also used for a couple of Denny's commercials.
The song was engineered and mixed by Kevin Beamish, who has also done engineering and production work for renowned musical acts such as REO Speedwagon, Jefferson Starship and Kenny Chesney.
In the season six Friends episode "The One Where Paul's The Man," Paul (Bruce Willis) sings this to himself in a bedroom mirror unaware that Ross is hiding under a bed nearby. The song was included on the show's 2004 soundtrack EP, Friends: The One With All The Party Music.
It was also used in these TV shows:
Malcolm In The Middle ("Malcolm Defends Reese" – 2005)
Futurama ("I Dated A Robot" – 2001)
Everybody Loves Raymond ("Debra's Workout" – 1999)
Full House ("Just One Of The Guys" – 1988; "The Seven-Month Itch: Part 2" – 1988)
Bosom Buddies ("All You Need Is Love" – 1981)