American Top 40 PastBlast, 5/19/79: Alton McClain and Destiny, “It Must Be Love”

AT40’s switch to a four-hour show at the beginning of October 78 causes problems these days for the stations that rebroadcast shows from the 70s—naturally, almost all of them are allocating only three hours for the program. On those occasions when a countdown from the last fifteen months of the decade is offered, stations have a choice: play just the Top 30/32/33 (depending on the week), or go with an alternate show from an earlier year provided by Premiere. I’ve found maybe four or five stations nationally that will start an hour early to play the first hour of a four-hour show, but my schedule doesn’t always allow me to hear it (it’s a challenge this weekend). I understand why stations don’t want to make allowances for this variance, but it’s hard on the purists out there…

A significant downside to this matter of timing is some nice but now-obscure songs that struggled to make it the lower 30s never or rarely get heard as a part of the series.  Case in point: this week’s #38 tune from one-hit wonders Alton McClain and Destiny, “It Must Be Love,” a disco number whose groove reminds me a bit of Cheryl Lynn’s “Got to Be Real.” It spent just four weeks on the show and topped out at #32 on 6/9. That’s high enough to have made the second hour of the show, but unfortunately, that one was guest-hosted; it won’t ever be offered by Premiere. This means your one shot to hear “It Must Be Love” on a truncated three-hour show will be the next time they feature 6/2, as it leads off Hour #2 at #33.

A bit about McClain: she’s from Baltimore and moved to LA in the mid 70s to try to break into the music biz. She and the two women in Destiny recorded three albums for Polydor but had just the one hit (one of her group-mates, D’Marie Warren, was killed in an auto accident in early 85, a few years after they split). McClain married Skip Scarborough, the producer of their third album. (Scarborough co-wrote “Giving You the Best That I Got” with Anita Baker and one other person, “Lovely Day” with Bill Withers, and has solo credit for “Love Ballad,” a hit for both LTD and George Benson. Not bad.) She’s recorded a couple of gospel albums over the years, runs a foundation in the name of her late husband, and still performs occasionally. I found a two-part story, published this past February, on Electronic Urban Report (a link to Part 1 can be found if you click through), in case you’re interested in learning even more.

2 thoughts on “American Top 40 PastBlast, 5/19/79: Alton McClain and Destiny, “It Must Be Love””

  1. Please forgive the blatant self-promotion, but back in 2015, I wrote a 4 part series on the June 9, 1979 AT40 episode over on My Favorite Decade:

    Los Angeles DJ Bruce Philip Miller was the guest host that week and introduced the #32 song like this: “Well, here’s that new female vocal trio with their first chart single. Up a notch this week to number 32, here are Alton McClain and Destiny and “It Must Be Love.”

    You compare the tune to “Got to be Real” while I compare it to “Best of My Love” – and we are both right! Hard to believe I missed out on this one back in ’79 as it would have been squarely in my wheelhouse back then.

    Thanks for the “where are they now?” info.


    1. Blatantly self-promote all you wish!

      I know I listened to these May/June shows back in 79 but “It Must Be Love” made only a tiny impression at the time–I can’t imagine I was hearing it anywhere else, either.

      This afternoon I saw a couple of frequent commenters in the 70s thread at the AT40 Fun and Games site mention the similarities to both the Emotions and Cheryl Lynn songs–we’re not the only ones to notice…


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