Chapter 5 – DOYAWANNA???????

Cover art from Love Affair's second album, "DOYAWANNA".
Cover art from Love Affair’s
second album, “DOYAWANNA”

For its second album, Love Affair started looking harder at outside material. One writer, Dan Daley, had written “I Can’t Let Go” on the band’s first LP. He submitted a powerful song called “Still In Saigon” to the band for consideration. Manager Otto and Richard thought that the song was great. As the band began working on the song they were notified that Charlie Daniels had gotten an exclusive on the song; it became a hit for him as well. Losing that song began a series of missed opportunities and errors that would jinx the second album and rattle the foundation of the band. In addition to being under pressure to write and record another dozen songs on such short notice, Love Affair was also told that the man who remixed the first album was Radio Record’s choice for producer of the new one. His name was Steve Wittmack and when he flew to Cleveland in January 1981, the band knew that the relationship would be “an uncomfortable fit,” as Richard put it. “He seemed to be more concerned with trying to make the band more sophisticated, as opposed to how the song sounded. With the band it was never about our musicianship or perfection, but about our unabashed confidence in how we played,” explains Richard.

Love Affair on TV show early 1981
Love Affair on TV show early 1981

And confidence was something Wittmack seemed hell-bent on destroying. To make matters worse, Atlantic Records (parent company and distributor of Radio Records) seemed to be at odds with the Florida-based label on the direction of the record. One wanted the band to be more pop and one wanted the band more hard-edged. As the group headed down to Florida to International Sound Studios, they intended to just do the best they could and “make lemonade out of lemons.” It wouldn’t be that easy though… Love Affair felt that even though they had some conflicts to resolve when they began recording, the material they had written really was somewhat more sophisticated and professional than their debut effort. So, they really expected to make the best of a sticky situation. Producer Wittmack was not really as sympathetic or driven as Peter Schekeryk and the band got the feeling that he was just doing a job. He also tried to alter the way the band’s signature harmonies were stacked and that really bled their unique formula of its life-force. Richard explains: “When the album was finished and people from Radio Records and Atlantic Records were in the studio saying ‘this song is a hit’ and ‘this one will be a classic’, Otto walked over to me and whispered, ‘if this album is a hit, then I don’t know anything about music…’ he was right and we left Florida feeling really uneasy.”

Love Affair live TV show circa 1982
Love Affair live TV show circa 1982

Next up in the Let’s-Mess-With-A-Good-Thing-Sweepstakes was the label wanting to change the name of the band. Manager Otto Neuber flatly refused – even when they explained they got feedback while promoting the first album that people thought the band was a disco band or something. The label countered that they would then like to just use the initials L.A. on the cover of the new album and put the full name on the back cover. Since the band’s fan club already had been referring to them as L.A., the group tentatively agreed. However, when the test pressing of the LP came and their full name only appeared in small print on the back cover, a band meeting was called. “Otto called us all together and explained that our record contract states that we had final approval on the album, but that exercising that right might mean that they could kill the album or not release it at all. We decided that it was in our best interest to let it go as it was,” Richard recalls.

Love Affair promo picture
Love Affair – summer 1980

When DOYAWANNA was released in May 1981, Love Affair kicked off its release with a concert simulcast from The Cleveland Agora and broadcast on WMMS. The afternoon of the show, legendary Cleveland disc jockey Kid Leo had Richard on the air for an interview. Little did Richard know he was going to be ambushed by Leo who wanted to know why the band was trying to disassociate itself from the city that made them popular. Somehow, WMMS felt that by changing the name on the cover to L.A. that the group was trying to get their identity from that city rather than Cleveland.” I was stunned,” says Richard. Needless to say, DOYAWANNA flopped in terms of singles and album sales. Strangely enough, the overall popularity of the band as a live act continued to grow. The songs from DOYAWANNA went over great live and their touring base was broadened with two LP’s under their belts. And because the act had one more album to record under their Radio Records contract, they took their hits in stride and figured they’d soldier on. So they did…