Neither version of “Love Hangover” has anything very much to do with a hangover. The song, written for Diana Ross and then covered by The Associates, is in that cynical, wonderful tradition of soul songwriting where every metaphor – a moon landing, a jury trial, a police chase, a rainstorm – pointed straight at love. You can imagine one songwriter batting the title to another with a “Now, use that if you can” grin – how after all to match the bleary hammerings of the morning after with the thin, clean flutings of Miss Ross? Do divas even get hangovers?
Sure enough Diana’s version is a sun-through-windows reverie, a cloudy champagne buzz, and you doubt she is waking alone. Three or so minutes (or hours) of bubble and swoon in, Alka-Selzer is served on a silver tray and the song skips into the very lightest kind of sugar-spun funk. It’s tingly and infectious, it makes you want some of what she’s got (which is the idea) – it’s magnificent, mais ce n’est pas l’hangover.
But the Associates, oh! The Associates – their tumbling version is as far from the paralysed thunk of a drink-sore head as you can get, but only because it’s woken still doused and inflamed. Billy MacKenzie flips the original guitar-line into a hysteric’s giggle-riff and scats his way through the song accordingly – which would reduce it to babble, except Rankine keeps the music so tight and tightly wound. The whole is flushed, teetering, filled with a chaotic passion, perpetually bursting. Listen to Ross and you come out warmed – listen to MacKenzie and you come up purged. Neither has very much to do with a hangover – both have a great deal to do with love.