The birth of our underground brand Factory 93 not only brought on an adrenaline rush reminiscent of the renegade warehouse era of raving—on which Insomniac was founded—but it also had us thinking back to all the people, places and parties that made this whole operation possible. And with that came a burning desire to crack open our collection and dust off the classic records we couldn’t live without. Through our From the Crate series, we’ll be breaking out both seminal and obscure cuts alike, imparting some knowledge in the process.
“Your Love” is an early Chicago house anthem—one you’ll instantly recognize from its woozy arpeggio intro—and an obvious inclusion as both one of the greatest and most rinsed tracks in dance and electronic history. Yet its provenance has been contested for going on 30 years(!). The song has transcended its point of origin into something way more universal, but how it got to be there isn’t the cleanest narrative.
As usual, the truth is a bit murky about who did what when or generally apocryphal (as go most house, disco, and techno stories from back in the day). It’s perhaps most commonly known as a record by the late, legendary Frankie Knuckles—at least that’s how I first encountered it and the way I see most working DJs refer to the track. But Jamie Principle, a lesser-known Chicago vocalist, wrote the song and released it first.
The story goes that in 1982, Principle (real name Byron Walton), then a young Chicago kid, had just “gotten out of a bad relationship.” As he explained in an interview last year, “I decided that I was going to stop being in relationships and focus on my music for a while. I met Lisa—the girl the song is about. At this time I had a regular job, so I would write stuff in all of my free time… It started as a poem, and then I switched it into a song that was written just for her.”
The original poem was voiced by an uncredited vocalist (Adrienne Jett, whose only other credit is Ron Hardy’s “Sensation,” another Chicago classic). Principle’s buddy Freddy Gomez engineered the recording and cut a tape of it on reel-to-reel.
Later, Gomez would introduce Principle to Frankie Knuckles, who was a big-time player in this proto/first-wave house period in Chicago at his club, the Warehouse. Originally from the South Bronx, Knuckles had spent much of the ‘70s gallivanting with some of the New York disco kings before moving to Chicago to spread the wealth of clubbing and discotheque knowledge he had gleaned in his hometown. He and Ron Hardy were the most influential people in Chicago at that time, so when Knuckles got a tape copy, he allegedly would rinse it out on his reel-to-reel.
Principle officially released a 12″ first in 1986. Knuckles released his version in 1987 on Trax Records. Principle received writing credit for “Your Love,” and they both got writing credit for the less well-known but equally good “Baby Wants to Ride” on the flip side. Principle did the vocals (uncredited) on the Knuckles version.
It seems like Principle’s contributions to this song are largely forgotten by history—probably because Knuckles became an international star and a household name. Knuckles was such a towering giant of the scene that one could assume other things were incorrectly attributed to him, as well. Hell, no one can even agree on who first came up with the term “house music.” “History is written by the winners,” as the cliché goes.
Principle was instrumental in coming up with the concept and lyrics to the track. Knuckles helped spread the track to make it one you hear in clubs around the world to this day. But perhaps we’re not giving enough credit to Freddy Gomez and Mark “Hot Rod” Trollen for carving out the sound of the track. More than anything, the production is what makes this song burrow into your head and stay there forever. Apart from some small differences, all the versions are basically the same; they all have that wonky, almost out-of-tune, arpeggiated lead and chunky-verging-on-lazy bassline, which is what really makes this a great weapon. (Want to know how they created those sounds? Check out this full deconstruction of “Your Love.”)
If that’s not enough, the song had a third life when it was re-released with an underused vocal by disco diva Candi Staton (“You’ve Got the Love”) that was thrown over “Your Love” as a successful mashup by the Source in 1989 (this lowly scribe’s favorite version, for what it’s worth).