Love It To Death’ is the album that nearly didn’t happen. After two flop albums no one was to eager to throw more money behind what they assumed, with some justification, would be a non-starter. Shep and the band, however, weren’t about to give up. Shep managed to convince Warner Brothers to pay for the recording of four new demos with a hot shot new producer he’d found from Canada called Bob Ezrin.
Shep and the band realised that to take the next step they needed a proper producer and after a little searching they decided on Jack Richardson of Nimbus 9 Productions in Toronto, renowned at the time for his work with Canadian act ‘The Guess Who’. Contact was made but Richardson simply wasn’t that interested. To shut them up he sent his new boy Ezrin down to check out the band and get rid of them. It didn’t work out that way. In September Ezrin flew down to New York to see the band at Max’s Kansas City and saw something in the band he thought had value. He returned to Toronto to convinced his boss they were worth recording. Richardson, still not convinced, said “if you think their so great YOU record them!” and shortly after Ezrin moved in with the band at their Pontiac base to start two months of writing and rehearsing for what would become ‘Love It To Death’.
By November Billboard reported the band were recording at RCA Studios in Chicago. In ‘Me, Alice’ Alice recalls they recorded four songs (he names ‘I’m Eighteen’, ‘Is It My Body’, ‘You Drive Me Nervous’ and ‘Sun Arise’) as demos to show Warners what they had. It does the trick and the band get the go-ahead to finish the album.
‘I’m Eighteen’, originally called ‘I Wish I was Eighteen Again’, was released as a single around the first week of February 1970 and had been slowly climbing the charts for a while before the full album was released. It evenually peaks at #22. The single was an edited version of the original bluesy jam the band had been playing for a few months. Bob Ezrin, who on first hearing the song had originally thought the song was called ‘I’m Edgy’, had cut the original down to three minutes and tightened up the arrangement to produce the bands first solid hit record.
The albums second single, ‘Caught In A Dream’, was released around the end of May judging by its ‘new entry’ status in the Billboard chart dated June 11th, and reached a high point of #94.
Love it To Death’ first appeared in the Billboard charts in the issue dated March 20th 1971 at #127, soundly thrashing the previous two albums on the strength of the single ‘I’m Eighteen’. It peaked at #35 in May.