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    Love( 1966 )
    My Little Red Book / Can't Explain / A Message to Pretty / My Flash on You / Softly to Me / No Matter What You Do / Emotions / You I'll Be Following / Gazing / Hey Joe / Signed D.C. / Colored Balls Falling / Mushroom Clouds / And More

    An early pre-love Arthur Lee composition titled 'My Diary' featured a then unknown Jimi Hendrix on guitar, and a friendship was formed between Jimi and Arthur. Getting his own band together, eventually christened Love, Arthur Lee and group signed to Elektra, the first Rock group to do so - Elektra later gave the world The Doors. Bryan MacLean introduced 'Hey Joe' to the Love camp ( a song also performed by The Byrds and The Leaves around the same time ) re-writing some of the words, before 'Hey Joe' became the property of Jimi Hendrix alone. It's these kind of events that occurred around Arthur Lee and Love that has seen the term 'influential' appear as often as it does. Hanging around their home-town of Los Angeles, Love proved a popular live attraction around the same kinds of places that earlier had embraced The Byrds. Bryan MacLean came to Love as a former Byrds roadie, which must have seemed a wonderful thing in a Love camp indebted to The Byrds - a debt audibly noticeable across a good half of this record. Love merge Folk, Rock and R&B - the harder edge to these songs coming from an Arthur Lee Rolling Stones fascination. Bryan MacLean brought a softer edge to the group and influenced the writing of Arthur Lee - although never was allowed more than one or two songs on any given Love album. Arthur Lee, coming from Los Angeles with it's whole session musician thing, with it's whole Beach Boys ( Brian Wilson ) thing especially... may have seen it as a weakness of his own that Love 'needed' songs from Bryan, songs that added to Love but perhaps threatened to take away from Arthur Lee - musician, writer and artiste. This debut work is by no means innovative or startling, but the mix of influences is put together well, and there is just something about the rhythm of the songs, and the energy on display.

    Reading the liner-notes - half of Love describe half the songs here as filler. Most of this 'filler' is on the second side of the record, the first half is pretty much flawless within what it's trying to achieve. 'My Little Red Book', a cover of a Bacharach / David song given a nervy and jerky treatment, is just good fun to listen to. Second song 'Can't Explain' opens with a burst of Byrds guitar, but the rhythm section are doing something a little more rhythm and blues and the vocal placed directly between Jagger and McGuinn. The sound of the first two Byrds albums is / was a much loved sound, and forgetting that Love copped the sound directly from The Byrds, is a joy to hear. Building on 'My Little Red Book', 'Can't Explain' works very well indeed. The harmonica opening 'A Message To Pretty' is gorgeous, the vocal is full of Roger McGuinn of The Byrds, but who really cares? The Byrds did two albums in that particular folk/rock style. Let's have another - you know, I don't mind! Does anybody really care about such things when the songs are as good as they are here? Bryan MacLean's 'Softly To Me' shares elements of the Jazz influences that permeated The Byrds 1966 album release 'Fifth Dimension'. The guitar creates a really interesting sound and the flow and rhythm of the song is natural, easy and enjoyable. 'My Flash On You', 'No Matter What You Do' and 'Emotions' are perfectly listenable, if not essential, songs. 'You I'll Be Following' repeats The Byrds / R&B mix even attempting to replicate Byrds harmonies, and doesn't do too badly, either. 'Hey Joe' is performed with much energy and verve, but Jimi Hendrix needless to say did it better. 'Signed DC' is one of the most serious songs here - full of lines such as "I pierced my skin again.... no one cares for me". The music is laid back and the vocal full of feeling. Spine chilling and beautifully disturbing stuff that demands to be listened to attentively. Not a one of the closing three songs is an essential masterpiece, yet all are fun to listen to. The guitars do more semi-byrds things, the lyrics are pretty undistinguished, yet something happens. I can't explain what happens - 'Mushroom Clouds' for instance features mellow and stretched vocal lines. The song is a piece of nothing, but it sounds nice!

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    Mike Harrison fughedaboudit455@yahoo.com
    A pretty strong debut album. There's too much recycling of familiar Byrdsounds, so it doesn't SOUND original. But you can tell that Lee and his cohorts were true freaks, because the lyrical content of the original tunes was almost the stuff of true daring at the time. Releasing a song like "Signed D.C." could only happen at Elektra Records circa 1966.

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    Da Capo 8 ( 1967 )
    My Stephanie Knows Who / Orange Skies / ! Que Vida ! / Seven & Seven Is / The Castle / She Comes In Colours / Revelation

    Can you ignore 'Revelation'? Well, it takes up an entire side of this album, a loose extended group jam with minimal appeal. According to Bryan MacLean, he had a bunch of songs that could have carried on the sound of the first half of this album, but that Arthur wouldn't entertain the prospect of using them, for fear of losing control over Love. It's a shame, because if side two was even half as good as side one, we'd have ourselves a bit of a classic here. 'Da Capo' loses points for side two, then. Loses points for the 'never want to hear again' 'Revelation', but my, what a first side! The first side is more than enough, in this case. 'Stephanie Knows Who' with stop start rhythms, fast guitars, trumpets, psychedelic guitars and feels.... It's more than enough. Love, still listening to The Byrds, do a song at least as enjoyable as anything from 'Younger Than Yesterday', for my money. "Yeah, yeah, COME ON, COME ON!" sings Arthur, and I find it difficult to resist. Yeah, it's true. Following 'Stephanie Knows Who' is the small matter of one of the most gorgeous songs I've heard in years. 'Orange Skies' was the Bryan MacLean song, and it's just so beautiful, wonderfully sung. Flute parts are perfect for the song, the lyric is romantic, the entire feel of the song..... "You make me happy, laughing glad and full of glee..." and the Flute continues to weave magic, and the vocals continue to cast a special spell indeed. '! Que Vida !' is so very Love with strange Latin inspired rhythms, and much melodic content to enjoy. The guitar and bass lock together well, and the vocal and lyric are more than good. So, that's alright then. 'Seven & Seven Is' became the biggest hit single Love ever enjoyed, a hard hitting guitar workout taken at two hundred miles an hour. Love weren't original? Well, perhaps not, not at the time of 'Da Capo', not startling original, even though they had sucessfully crafted their own sound. There are far less nods to The Byrds on this album, and besides, 'Seven & Seven Is' truly is glorious and a thrilling Rock song. Enjoy it for what it is - damn good.

    'The Castle' is oh so very special with tricksy rhythms and inventive vocal melodies - great bass runs. Love sound totally together all through this first half of 'Da Capo', sound like a very together group of musicians, which wasn't entirely the actual case - but they triumphed here. 'The Castle' just gets better and better as it goes along, and the transition into 'She Comes In Colours' confirms a band of rare stature. 'Whoa, whoa, whoa, WHOA! My love she comes in colours..." sings Arthur, the flute returns, the melodies are interesting and the rhythms interesting and the song so packed with melody - that yet another winner is placed onto 'Da Capo', an album without a single less than great song...... apart from 'Revelation'. Damn. Assuming side two was as good as side one, I might have given this album close to a rating of '10', maybe even an actual '10, but all this is speculation. 'Revelation' does actually have a few good sounding musical parts, but it's way too long and formless to withstand repeated listening at all. It doesn't ruin 'Da Capo' entirely though. Don't put this down because of one ( admittedly side long ) aberration. The songs one through to six really are wonderfully enjoyable pieces of Sixites pop/rock, and shouldn't be missed.

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    Mike Harrison fughedaboudit455@yahoo.com
    This album is light years ahead of the debut. Just think.....in a little over six months Love progressed to this. And with the added instrumentation, it enhances Lee's diversity. "Seven & Seven Is" is flat-out hilarious, and "She Comes In Colors" is just beautiful. MacLean's "Orange Skies" is a perfect compliment to Lee's manic demeanor and succeeds despite the simple boy-girl-love song subject matter.....I wish Lee had seen fit to include more of MacLean's material rather than "Revelation." Fortunately, there are two discs of unreleased MacLean material on Sundazed Records: one is entitled IFYOUBELIEVEIN, and it includes several late-1960's demos which hint at what Love's early albums might have sounded like if MacLean had been allowed to fully contribute his material.

    timothy nolan jtnolan50@hotmail.com
    nice work..i compleately agree with your thoughts on 'da capo'i have tickets for the 6/22 show at cafe du nord in san francisco... and iam very jacked to witness one of the great sleeper bands of it's era...all the best timothy

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    Forever Changes 9 ( 1968 )
    Alone Again Or / A House Is Not A Motel / Andmoreagain / The Daily Planet / Old Man / The Red Telephone / Maybe The People Would Be The Times Or Between Clark And Hilldale / Live And Let Live / The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This / Bummer In The Summer / You Set The Scene

    Arthur Lee had so little faith in his band he got a team of top L.A session musicians to record two songs proposed for 'Forever Changes', bypassing his group altogether. 'Moves' were made behind the scenes. The band got all shocked and put out and later became uneasily reconciled, but they made an effort. Arthur Lee decided that Love couldn't compete sonically with the likes of The Who or Jimi Hendrix. That they lacked a talented enough musician to go down that road at this particular moment in time. He knew Love couldn't compete on that level, so moved Love down a different road, bypassing his early adoration of The Byrds, bypassing electric guitar for acoustic guitar instead. He retained the rhythm and flow of the music of Love.

    An important part of the sound of 'Forever Changes' is the way the acoustic guitars combine with the string orchestrations. The string orchestrations stand out as integral parts of the songs themselves, rather than simple embellishments. As far as the lyrics are concerned, you'd be forgiven for dismissing them as simplistic mediations and/or the ravings of a drooling hippie - "All the snot has caked against my pants/it has turned to crystal" is a obviously a GREAT example. Arthur would often sing whatever came into his head during the writing process. That line stayed in and I don't blame him - it's a good line that stands out, even if it means absolutely nothing at all.

    Given this albums reputation, you have to wonder if any album with a song such as 'Bummer In The Summer' really was the greatest of all time? Another weak link in the chain is Bryan MacLean's 'Old Man', which I find hard to remember even whilst i'm listening to it. At least 'Bummer In The Summer' has a little jaunty quirky melody about it. Not bad, actually - just not great. Still, there are more than enough great pieces of work here to compensate. The electric guitar that appears through 'A House Is Not A Motel' is dramatic and exciting and really makes the song. Bryan MacLean's 'Alone Again Or' is an instant classic, and it's something of a mystery as to why Bryan himself was apparently unhappy with the way it turned out. The arrival of the string section, all Spanish and Mexican with trumpet to the fore is truly a fantastic thing. The lyric is evocative, and a perfect way to start an evening before going out for a night on the town. 'Andmoreagain' is a gorgeous feel with beautiful vocals and impeccable instrumentation. For all this songs apeing of The Beach Boys 'Pet Sounds', it's worth knowing that Hal Blaine ( Beach Boys legendary session drummer ) played the drums on this recording, not the regular Love drummer. This was one of the two songs ( the other being 'The Daily Planet' ) recorded with the pick of the L.A. session crowd. 

    The first four songs flow into one another seamlessly, compliment each other. 'The Daily Planet' is fast paced, with great drum work punctuating the songs happy progress. 'The Red Telephone' has well put together lyrics - although, was the use of the phrase "the other side" cribbed from The Doors? It hardly matters, it's a lovely song with yet more utterly effective string orchestration. 'Maybe The People....' simply shines with Love rhythms and Love melodies and speedy drums. Trumpet pops up, lyrics that sound great when sung - what more could you ask for? 'Live And Let Live' contains the famous "Snot" lyric, a simple acoustic strum although when the rhythm section kicks in, everything breathes deeply. 'The Good Humor Man' benefits from the presence of the orchestra and the vocal is deliriously beautiful, like stretching awake on a summers morn.

    The closing 'You Set The Scene' sounds better every time I hear it. Initially it makes little sense, and sounds underwhelming. This near seven minute song is full of subtle melodies and changes, full of quite loud actually orchestration through it's close - but it's a glorious, extended close. 'Forever Changes' is glorious, but not completely. There are a couple of weak points here, so my advice is don't expect the world. That way, you may just be bowled over and find yourself walking around with a huge smile on your face!

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    Mike Harrison fughedaboudit455@yahoo.com
    This album is an easy 9 & 1/2. It's not perfect, only because the album does sound dated. Also, I can't stand the lyrics and vocal for "Bummer in the Summer." But I can't get enough of the album....naturally because of Arthur Lee's, well, general weirdness. However, there's a real dichotomy with FOREVER CHANGES: the overall orchestrated sound of the album is somewhat cheerful, yet the lyrics, for what I can interpret, seem rather doomy. As a matter of fact, some of the lyrics ("A House is not a Motel", for one) just make me feel uncomfortable! It's as if there's some kind of impending doom just around the corner.....and the only relief for Arthur Lee is the sight of little girls in pigtails!

    Ratko Hribar stormbringer@email.hinet.hr
    Can't say that I've heard any of this stuff but the seventies hard rock band UFO made a cool cover of 'Alone Again Or' for their "Lights Out" album. I don't think they messed around with the arrangement much since their version has both brass and strings. Oh, and Schenker's guitar solo that they've added isn't bad at all, it fits in just fine (well, I say "added" cause I suppose it wasn't there in the original).

    KW Lee keewlee@hotmail.com
    is my favourite album of all time bar none. I would give it 12 out of 10 any time. It's the album I have listened to so many times that I sometimes feel tired of, yet still find some freshness whenever I listen to it again. I just can't live without this album. About Bryan McLean's discontent with "Alone Again Or", he hated the fact that his lead vocal was completely overshadowed by Arthur Lee's backing vocal at the mixing desk. It was said that McLean never forgave Lee's mistreatment and brutality until his tragic death in 1997.

    tim tkortwillowstone@yahoo.co.uk
    I first heard this alubum in 82 as a 16 year old Joy Division fan and was blown away. It is probably the most played album in my collection and gets highly divided opinions from first time listeners. My main reason for writing is to ask a question. Does anyone know who did the mariachi style horns on the album? Or have any idea of a good introduction to trumpet based mariachi music?

    GAZZA garyhess44@hotmail.com
    good review adrian . Its a very hard record to review really . The melodies are incredible but try remembering what a lot of them sound like later ! It has a strange quality that makes you want to keep playing it . The old side 1 in particular is one of my favourite song sequences ever ending with the superbly bonkers "red telephone". The session players were a good idea and the arrangements all work with the songs creating a 60s acid baroque with lyrics that alternate between disturbing and idyllic . Ive got no prob WITH "bummer in the summer " either . The albums the work of a unhinged musical genius , kind of a californian syd barrett if you like . Sometimes the electric guitar solos are too long and monotonous though ( allegedly neil young plays the solo on "live and let live" )but This is an authentic slice of 60s psychedelia - But For Lee (like many others) the trip became a nightmare .

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    Four Sail( 1969 )
    August / Your Friend And Mine / I'm With You / Good Times / Singing Cowboy / Dream / Robert Montgomery / Nothing / Talking In My Sleep / Always See Your Face

    Four Sail? Love were for sale, inbetween labels. A deal was struck, and Elektra got the pick of the many songs the new Love had recorded for a goodbye Elektra contract fulfilling affair. A brand new love had indeed emerged from the ashes of the recently disbanded Love, with one piece of guidance in particular from Arthur Lee to his new band-mates - "This is going to sound nothing like Forever Changes". He wrote these songs partly around the abilities of his new group members. We miss the writing contributions of Bryan MacLean, but gain a fantastic sounding lead guitar player. The harmonies are gone ( for the most part ) - yet Love Rock like almost never before. And yeah, the guitar parts here are genuinely impressive in places. The songs themselves are pretty consistent in quality, a good batch of songs here from Arthur Lee. 'August' opens the album and sounds like a return to the rockier moments from 'Da Capo' with a dash of Jimi Hendrix thrown in for good measure. The flow of 'Da Capo' era Love is here, a little nervous edgy anxiety and atmosphere. Oh, by the way. Before I continue, the sound quality here is pretty poor, especially compared to 'Forever Changes'. Love recorded 'Four Sail' in a makeshift studio. Quite why, i'm not sure, but the band were pretty together. 'August' is a great track, pounding and with many delightful and impressive guitar parts. Oh, and the drums! This guy can drum!! This particular Love line-up fell apart almost as soon as it began, by the way - which is a real shame - there is potential here.

    'Your Friend And Mine' is a quirky little thing, almost a country song. 'I'm With You' is glorious, brilliant and wonderful Love music, pure Love rhythms, one of the finest songs they ever did, right up there. Smooth vocals, cool atmosphere - I could listen to the song all day, really I could. And, 'Good Times' is great as well, Jazzy and utterly cool and listenable. 'Four Sail'? Damn fine, so far, all told.

    'Singing Cowboy' is distorted, mostly because of the mixing and recording quality, but the guitar parts shine, really flow. 'Dream' sounds like a 'Forever Changes' song, only without any orchestrations. It's a song as good as much of 'Forever Changes', and 'Four Sail' outsold 'Forever Changes' in the US. Something to think about. A 'brace' of guitar opens 'Robert Montgomery'. Arthur Lee always wanted Jimi Hendrix in Love. A couple of albums later, he got his wish, albeit only for one song. Anyway, hats off to new Love guitarist Jay Donnellan, who of course, Love being Love, was replaced for the albums immediately following this one, due to some sort of fall out with Arthur Lee. 'Robert Montgomery' has crap vocals, no structure. It's rambling and hardly together, but the guitar is genuinely great, flowing, technically impressive and full of 'twiddle'.

    There isn't a bad song here, 'Nothing' is mellow, 'Talking In My Sleep' a weird yet fully enjoyable blues influenced song and the closing 'Always See Your Face' an instant Arthur Lee classic. 'Four Sail'? This is a fucking great album. As good as 'Forever Changes'? Yeah, actually. The follow-up album featured songs rejected by Elektra for this album, so wasn't anywhere near as good. The album after that featured a totally different line-up. Love were Love, but seek this thing out. You won't regret doing so. <

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    Ronnie Allen ronnie.allen@worldnet.att.net
    read your review of four sail,good review except for your comment about" robert montgomery",crap vocal?do you sing?,i do and i consider it a great vocal,the mix could be better,but i still love the album,thanks man

    Mike Harrison fughedaboudit455@yahoo.com
    A lot of Love fans and critics don't seem to care for this album, but I really enjoy it. FOUR SAIL rates an 8, but no more, only because the hard-rock sound is somewhat generic at times. Love were definitely trying to find a new direction, which was a wise move, because they couldn't successfully repeat FOREVER CHANGES and remain inspired with that sound.....a sound that was passe by 1969, anyway. Guitarist Jay Donnellan was a welcome addition, providing a good, hard, edgy sound. I have to disagree with Adrian on Lee's vocals for "Robert Montgomery", though, because Lee sounds like he's panic-stricken, ready to fall off the edge of a cliff at any moment.....the vocal certainly got my attention!

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    this page last updated 11/03/08

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