Before The Moments made “Love on a Two Way Street” a Billboard number one Soul Single in 1970, Lezli Valentine recorded it as the B-side to her single “The Cowards Way Out”. Although Sylvia Robinson and Bert Keyes are credited as songwriters for the tune, Lezli insist that she was a large contributor to the it also. According to Lezli, Bert came up with the melody after she and Sylvia came to him with the only lines Sylvia could recall from a dream, “love on a two-way street, lost on a lonely highway.” It was there at the office she and Sylvia both came up with the lyrics that she recorded in 1968. Lezli implied that the original lead sheets were altered to omit her name and that Joseph Robinson (Sylvia’s husband and co-owner of their record company) and other artist that were at the recording studio at the time knew this.
Lezli Valentine – 1968
The Moments recorded their rendition for their 1969 LP Not on the Outside, but on the Inside, Strong! as an album filler, however it was released as a single in 1970 and quickly became a chart topper. The Lost Generation also recorded a version for their fall 1970 album The Sly, Slick and the Wicked. Personally l prefer The Lost Generation’s arrangement slightly better because the tempo doesn’t drag as much as the first two recordings, the vocals seem clearer and adding horns to the track made for an overall brighter sound.
The Moments – 1969
Love on a Two Way Street – The Lost Generation
Jay Z’s 2009 Blueprint 3 cd contained what has become New York’ City’s unofficial anthem “Empire State of Mind” featuring Alicia Keys which sampled The Moments 1970 version of “Love on a Two Way Street”. Singer-songwriter/producer Angela Hunte and writing partner Jane’t “Jnay” Sewell-Ulepic submitted the song the original version of “NY State of Mind” to Roc Nation and initially got negative reviews. She was later but a few months later was convinced to send it to Jay Z himself. According to Angela, he rewrote the verses and recorded it the same night he first heard the track. Although Mary J. Blige was considered for the hook, Jay Z agreed with Angela’s first choice for the vocals and went with Keys due to her piano skills and the piano riff in the sample.
Empire State of Mind – Jay Z and Alicia Keys
In true Joy Denalane fashion, she the recorded a HipHop Soul cut “Where Do We Go” for her album Maureen. While Joy loops the same phrases as “Empire State of Mind”, she actually samples The Lost Generation’s version taking advantage of their horn arrangement. She added even more brass instrumentation and live percussion which made the sample stand out. The more I listen to her track the more I wonder why Jay Z choose The Moments record to sample and not The Lost Generation. The embellishments she added to the 1970’s recording, along with the horns already on the track make for a perfect high school or college marching band halftime or stand performance, which is an audience that would arguably be part of Jay Z’s demographic.
Where Do We Go – Joy Denalane
“Love on a Two Way Street” has been covered by quite a few artist. Everyone has takes on the classic from Brenda K. Starr‘s salsa version to the standard covers of , Gloria Estefan, and Boz Scaggs. Although Stacy Lattisaw‘s 1981 rendition is the only one that has had as much success as The Moments cover, the longevity of this piece is a testament to its timelessness.
Purchase Music Featured:
“Love On a Two Way Street” – The Moments
“Love On a Two Way Street” – The Lost Generation
“Where Do We Go” – Joy Denalane