“The Glow Of Love” was a turning point in Luther Vandross’s ascension to superstar status. It wasn’t a pop hit, but its influence has been felt in clubland (beyond the fact that it was part of a triumvirate of songs that ruled Billboard‘s Dance/Disco list for over two months) and on Black radio for decades (even beyond the fact that Janet Jackson, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis borrowed a heaping serving of it for 2001’s #1 smash “All For You”.)
Disco may have been “dead” by the time “The Glow of Love” came out, but that didn’t mean that great music falling under the categorization of disco wasn’t still coming out regularly. Change’s two writer/producers (Jacques Fred Petrus and Mauro Malavasi), added their own Euro spice and cut it with a dose of American soul (heavily inspired by the sound of Chic) to create “The Glow Of Love”. The lush arrangements, popping rhythm guitar and butt-shaking bass are straight out of camp Nile and ‘Nard. Hell, even Luther was a veteran of the Chic camp, having provided vocals to songs on their first two albums.
As the story goes (read Craig Seymour’s excellent biography for more details), Luther, who already had recognition as a top-notch session singer, was recommended to vocalize “Glow”, but the price for his services originally proved too rich for Petrus and Malavasi. The producers gave another couple of singers a whirl, but couldn’t find anyone who was as perfect for the song as Luther. So they met his price, and came back with a classic.
The song’s line about treasuring “all that’s new and true and gay” must’ve held some resonance (ironic or otherwise) to the publicly closeted Vandross as well. I’m willing to bet that the writer/producers and Luther were all aware of the double meaning (and at the very least, wanted to offer a wink/nudge/nod to the audience that provided a sizable percentage of dance music consumers). Allegedly, upon completing “The Glow of Love”, Luther remarked to the producers that it was the best song he’d ever performed on. That’s a matter of opinion, of course, but Luther did love “The Glow Of Love” enough that he licensed it (and its follow up, “Searching”) from Change to appear on his 1989 greatest hits compilation The Best Of Luther Vandross, The Best Of Love. I will say that Luther has rarely sounded as buoyant as he does on “The Glow Of Love”, a song that perfectly captures the feeling of all being right with the world.