The Persuaders: “Thin Line Between Love And Hate” (Thin Line Between Love And Hate, 1971)

Something made this song pop into my head just after lunch today. I don’t know what exactly—I had just had a conversation about politics, so maybe that did it.

It had been a long time since I’d heard it (I say this in a lot of my posts, I just realized; this is the downside of having a huge music collection. Stuff gets neglected.). I didn’t remember it being quite this slow, or quite so… violent?

Parsing the lyrics, it seems that he’s been bad to his wife (I’m assuming they’ve tied the knot, though maybe not), and she’s been holding in her frustration for years. And then she… does something that puts him in the hospital? In that second verse, he is literally bandaged and in the hospital. Usually, in these songs, she leaves him after he comes home late too many times. In this one, she resorts to domestic violence.

It was good for #1 R&B, #15 Pop as it turns out. It was the only time the Persuaders topped either chart, though they remained popular through 1975 or so, when they fell to the back ranks and embarked on a long career phase where they became a touring act that’s still going under the Persuaders name today, albeit with a vastly different lineup than the one that recorded this.

A lot of vocal groups have followed this path. Their stories begin as early as the 1950s, doo-wopping on the corner, the distinctive mix of voices makes their career, they last a long time with a few lineup changes, and then at some point in the 70s, they lose their standing and become a registered trademark that performers use as an umbrella for nostalgia shows. The Persuaders formed in 1969 and had a shorter creatively fruitful run as a result, but it’s still an interesting phenomenon.