American Top 40 PastBlast, 10/2/71: Persuaders, “Thin Line Between Love and Hate”

Once I started buying albums in earnest in the first few months of 84, it was probably only a matter of time before Learning to Crawl became a part of my collection. “Back on the Chain Gang” was one of my very favorites of 83, and I’d bought the 45; I suspect a Best of the Month nod in the April 84 issue of Stereo Review gave me the final nudge I needed to buy the album. It’s almost uniformly satisfying—James and I had a FB exchange this summer where he claimed only “Watching the Clothes” held it back from perfection, while I countered with “I Hurt You” as the weakest link. It was only implicit, but we were agreeing that the middle track of side two, “Thin Line Between Love and Hate,” was totes awesome.

“Thin Line” was the final single from Learning to Crawl, reaching #83 in July. I remember seeing a video for it a few times. I also think I was aware from credits/liner notes/other reading that: a) Paul Carrack was playing piano on it, and b) it was a cover of an early 70s R&B track.

But it may have been the better part of three decades, after getting hooked on weekly rebroadcasts, before I heard the original. It’s also by a quartet whose name had ten letters and started with a “P.” The Persuaders, formed in NYC, were on the R&B charts several times between 71 and 74 and hit AT40 twice. “Thin Line Between Love and Hate” went gold, hit #1 R&B, would reach #15 on the Hot 100 (it’s still on its way there on this show, stopping off at #24). It’s a different song when being told in the first person (to be honest, I think I find Hynde’s third-person account more effective). A little over two years later, the Persuaders would get to #39 with “Some Guys Have All the Luck,” also covered in 84, this time by Rod Stewart.

This video captures an appearance on Soul Train, complete with intro from Don Cornelius. It’s mighty fine. Unfortunately, all the original Persuaders have now passed; the last survivor died in early 2016.

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