An olive branch in the Language Of Love wars

Published July 04, 2014

A while ago on this very website I took a closer look at Björn and Benny's soundtrack work for the sexploitation films Language Of Love and The Seduction Of Inga - it wasn't always pretty but someone had to do it. And now I have some more information to share about 'Language Of Love', the song.

As you may recall, I surmised that despite the best efforts of Stig Anderson, 'Language Of Love' was in fact never released on record by artists outside Sweden. Well, a friend of mine, ABBA-and-related collector Frank Axelsson, was able to put me right. In his collection he had a cassette tape which a fellow ABBA fan had sent him about 25 years ago. The tape included a word-less "humming" version of 'Language Of Love', performed by a vocal group identified as The Olive Branch.

After a bit of googling I found that the track was indeed included on an album by The Olive Branch, issued as part of Decca Records' Phase 4 Stereo series of releases. Phase 4 Stereo started back in 1961, and the Olive Branch album, entitled Winds Of Change, was released about a decade later - in 1970 according to the label, in 1971 according to the sleeeve - by which time one gets the feeling that Phase 4 Stereo was used for easy listening releases in general, and perhaps not so much for showcasing stereo recordings as such. I wouldn't be surprised if The Olive Branch was nothing more than a number of session singers, assigned this group name for this particular album and never heard from again.

The Winds Of Change album was released in both the UK (Decca Phase 4 Stereo PFS 4223) and the US (London Phase 4 Stereo SP 44152),  with 'Language Of Love' appearing as track three on side two. But - uh-oh! - what's this? Neither the sleeve nor the label credits Björn, Benny and Jack Fishman with writing the song. Instead, the track is credited to "Loudermilk", those responsible obviously confusing the film tune with John D. Loudermilk's charming 1961 hit of the same name. These two takes on the subject are very different: whereas Jack Fishman opines that "when we talk of love, we don't need words," John D. Loudermilk seems to be of the opinion that, yes, there are in fact specific words to be used.

Could there be a better illustration of exactly how difficult it was for Swedish songwriters to have their music heard outside Scandinavia in the early Seventies? Not only did they have to fight to be taken seriously, but when they finally got one of their tunes recorded they had to suffer the indignity of not receiving proper credit for their work.

The actual recording does sound virtually identical to the humming version heard in the Language Of Love film, so I suspect it might be the same recording, albeit differently mixed. If this is correct, I guess it's The Olive Branch performing the version with lyrics as well, as heard over the opening credits. However, all the credits on the album cover - arranger, producer, sleeve designer, photographer - seem to indicate that the recording was made in England (the people involved were mainly active in the UK at the time), which contradicts Benny's recollection that the recordings heard in the film were made in the United States. Incidentally, the cover picture was taken by one Ethan Russell, while the album was designed by John Kosh: this team was also responsible for The Beatles' Let It Be album - I think they probably did a better job with the fab four than with The Olive Branch...

Finally, in my googling efforts I actually came across an mp3 file of the recording on The Olive Branch's album. It sounds very clear and un-crackly, as if it has been ripped from a CD. So far, however, I've been unable to track down a CD where this track appears. If you have better luck I'd love to hear from you, as I'm interested in the release history of this particular track.

Meanwhile: Enjoy!