In 1978, Nicolette Larson was just a background singer looking to get her shot at stardom. She go it from Warner Bros Records and took a big leap forward with her debut album and her first single, Lotta Love. Written by her former boss and lover, Neil Young, Nicolette took the track to #8 in early 1979 as well as hitting the top of the Adult Contemporary chart. Neil wrote it and told Nicolette that she could have it to record. But Neil ended up recording first for his 1978 LP, Comes A Time.
The two versions are a terrific example in contrasts, from the production down to the style of singing. Neil’s recording is sparse and brooding, full of despair. He sings, “gonna take a lotta love” as if he’s already given up. Nicolette’s version is lushly produced starting with a late 70s pre-requisite sax solo (provided by Memphis Horns’ Andrew Love) that’s firm with soft edges, backed by a spry Philly-soul style drum beat. She sings, “gonna take a lotta love“, with hope and promise, as if she’s figured out a way to make it work. She’s baring her soul to her lover and you can picture her holding someone’s hand and she sings, even though she’s singing to someone she hasn’t even met yet. I remember hearing a story on American Top 40 of how she recorded this song on roller skates. No wonder she’s sounds so upbeat. Could’ve been the sprightly flute solo too.
Despite this success of this single and the many accolades that were showered upon her, Nicolette managed only one more Top 40 hit, Let Me Go, Love in 1980. But she never stopped working singing duets and backing vocals for the Doobie Brothers, Linda Ronstadt, Christopher Cross, even Van Halen. It almost seemed like she preferred that role to the spotlight. Maybe her voice was at it’s best when it was blended with someone else’s, like Neil’s on his American Stars N Bars LP. Regardless she ha a brief shining moment on the pop chart in 1979 which resonates on soft rock stations today. In fact chances are, if you’re in a CVS right now, you might be grabbing for some Pepto Bismal as you hear gonna take a lotta luhhh -uh-uh-uhve to make things work out right.