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(Love is Like A) Heat Wave

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(Love is Like A) Heat Wave

"(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave"
Single by Martha and the Vandellas
from the album Heat Wave
B-side A Love Like Yours (Don't Come Knocking Everyday)
Released July 9, 1963
Format 7" single
Recorded Hitsville U.S.A. (Studio A); 1963
Genre Soul/pop
Length 2:47
Label Gordy
G 7022
Writer(s) Holland–Dozier–Holland
Producer Brian Holland
Lamont Dozier
Martha and the Vandellas singles chronology

"Come and Get These Memories"
"(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave"

"(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave" is a 1963 hit single penned by the Holland–Dozier–Holland songwriting team and made popular by Motown girl group Martha and the Vandellas. It was originally released in July 1963, on the Motown subsidiary label Gordy, peaking at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Billboard Hot R&B chart. It was later covered by rock vocalist Linda Ronstadt on her Platinum-selling 1975 album Prisoner in Disguise. Ronstadt's version of the song was also released as a single in September 1975, reaching #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. Although the song is most often referred to as "(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave", the title on the label of the original 1963 single was "Heat Wave".[1]


"(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave" was one of several songs written and produced by the Holland–Dozier–Holland songwriting and producing team. It was the second hit collaboration between Martha and the Vandellas and the team, with the first being "Come and Get These Memories". The lyrics of "(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave" feature the song's narrator singing about a guy who has her heart "burning with desire" and "going insane" over the feeling of his love, and questioning, "is this the way love's supposed to be?"

Produced and composed with a gospel backbeat, jazz overtones and, doo-wop call and responsive vocals, "(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave" was one of the first songs to exemplify the style of music later termed as the "Motown Sound". The single was a breakthrough hit, peaking at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and at #1 on the Billboard R&B Singles Chart.[2] It also garnered the group's only Grammy Award nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for 1964,[3] making The Vandellas the first Motown group ever to receive a Grammy Award Nomination.

Some versions of the song have a radio edit that cuts out the repetition of the ending of the instrumental portion of the song, which is in one key, featuring the repeated saxophone and electric piano portion


Covers and influence

The success of "(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave" helped popularize both Martha and the Vandellas and Holland-Dozier-Holland, while cementing Motown as a strong musical force. The song has since been covered by several acts, including Cilla Black, Lou Christie on his 1966 album Lightnin' Strikes; labelmates The Supremes, on their 1967 album The Supremes Sing Holland–Dozier–Holland; The Jam, on their 1979 album Setting Sons; The Who in their early concerts and on their second album A Quick One; Joan Osborne, in a version done for The Funk Brothers documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown; and Bruce Springsteen. The song was also covered by Whoopi Goldberg in the film Sister Act. It is also featured in the films Backdraft and More American Graffiti. It's been covered five times on American Idol, by Kimberley Locke, Jennifer Hudson, Vonzell Solomon, Lil Rounds, and recently Thia Megia. The song was also sampled by R&B singer Solange Knowles for her 2008 single "I Decided" and by the UK band Doves in their 2005 single "Black and White Town." Covered in August 2010 by Phil Collins for his album of soul covers, Going Back.

In a 2007 DVD entitled "The Lovin' Spoonful with John Sebastian - Do You Believe in Magic," songwriter John Sebastian explained how he sped up the three-chord intro from "(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave" to come up with the intro to his 1965 hit for The Lovin' Spoonful, "Do You Believe in Magic."

In 2011, Chiddy Bang sampled the song for the track "Heatwave" in their mixtape "Peanut Butter & Swelly".

The Martha and the Vandellas version was featured in the 1970 film The Boys in the Band, in a scene in which several of the characters perform an impromptu line dance to the recording.

Linda Ronstadt version

"Heat Wave"
Single by Linda Ronstadt
from the album Prisoner in Disguise
B-side Love Is a Rose
Released August 1975
Format 7" single
Recorded The Sound Factory, Los Angeles 1975
Genre Rock
Label Asylum
G 7022
Producer Peter Asher
Andrew Gold
Linda Ronstadt singles chronology

"When Will I Be Loved"/
"It Doesn't Matter Anymore"
"Heat Wave/
"Love Is a Rose"
"Tracks of My Tears"

Linda Ronstadt remade "Heat Wave" for her album Prisoner in Disguise which was recorded at the Sound Factory in Hollywood between February and June 1975 and released that October. Ronstadt's sideman Andrew Gold told Rolling Stone: "[her] band had been trying to get Linda to add it to her [live] set for quite awhile [sic] night at a Long Island club called My Father's Place we received six encores and we'd run of tunes. One of us yelled out 'Heat Wave in D' and we did it. [The band was] awfully sloppy but the crowd really liked it. So we kept the song in our set."

Michael Epstein the manager of My Father's Place states he was responsible for Ronstadt's singing "Heat Wave" at his club: when Ronstadt went backstage after advising the audience she and the band had no more material Epstein says he suggested Ronstadt perform "Heat Wave" writing down the lyrics and playing some chords on a guitar to help her band improvise.[2]

According to the Rolling Stone article the perfectionism of Ronstadt's producer [3]

Although Ronstadt had made her Top Ten breakthrough in 1975 with remakes of the 1960s hits "You're No Good" and "When Will I Be Loved", the lead single from Prisoner in Disguise was the original Neil Young composition "Love Is a Rose" with "Heat Wave" relegated to the B-side of the single which was released in August 1975. However pop radio disc jockeys preferred "Heat Wave" which rose to a #5 peak in November 1975, while "Love Is a Rose" received support from C&W radio reaching #5 on the C&W chart in Billboard magazine.

Chart performance

Chart (1975) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 5
U.S. Billboard Easy Listening 19
Canadian RPM Top Singles 12
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary 12

Phil Collins version

"(Love Is Like a) Heatwave"
B-side "Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer"
Released 6 September 2010
Format 7" single
Recorded Dinemec Studio, Geneva, 2009/2010
Genre Pop
Length 2:53
Label Atlantic
G 7022
Producer Phil Collins
Phil Collins singles chronology

"Don't Let Him Steal Your Heart Away"
"(Love Is Like a) Heatwave"
"Going Back"

In 2010, Phil Collins remade "Heat Wave" for his cover album, Going Back, with the track serving as lead single, the first Phil Collins' single release in over five years. Except for the Carole King/Gerry Goffin-penned title cut and that team's "Some of Your Lovin'" - both Dusty Springfield hits - and also Collins' take on Curtis Mayfield's "Talking About My Baby", Going Back comprised Collins' remakes of Motown classics with the session personnel featuring three members of The Funk Brothers, Bob Babbitt, Ray Monette, and Eddie Willis; Collins would say: "To be able to have three of the surviving Funk Brothers play on all the tracks was unbelievable. There was one moment when they were tracking 'Heat Wave' that I experienced a wave of happiness and wonder that this was actually happening to me!".[4]

On 31 July 2010, Atlantic Records unveiled the music video to support Collins' "Heat Wave"[5] with the singer shown performing the song with a large ensemble of musicians and backing vocalists who performed with him during several showcases promoting the album in the summer of 2010.

Track listing

  1. "(Love Is Like a) Heatwave" – 2:53
  2. "Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer" – 2:59


  • Phil Collins: Vocals, Drums, Percussion, Keyboards
  • Bob Babbitt: Bass
  • Eddie Willis: Guitar
  • Ray Monette: Guitar
  • Connie Jackson & Lynne Fiddmont: Backing Vocals
  • Phil Todd: Bari Sax Solo
  • John Aram : Trombone
  • Guy Barker & Tom Rees-Roberts: Trumpet
  • Graeme Blevin: Tenor Sax

Chart performance

Chart Peak
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[6] 52
Germany (Media Control AG)[7] 30
Netherlands (Mega Single Top 100)[8] 82
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[9] 16
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[10] 39
Japan Hot 100 (Billboard) 37
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[11] 28

See also


  • Discogs


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