Love

 

Love logo

TrackAlbum
My Little Red BookLove
Signed D.C.Love
Seven And Seven IsDa Capo
The CastleDa Capo
Alone Again OrForever Changes
A House Is Not A MotelForever Changes
The Red TelephoneForever Changes
Maybe The People Would Be The Times
Or Between Clark And Hilldale
Forever Changes
AugustFour Sail
NothingFour Sail

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Contributor: David Tanner

Love photo 2

 

MEMORIES

For many weeks, as I walked past the window display of a town centre record shop, two Elektra label album covers caught my attention. One was Strange Days by The Doors, the other Forever Changes by Love. I never got round to buying Strange Days at the time (lack of cash), but I saved up and bought Forever Changes. It’s 1967 and it’s the second LP I ever buy.

1968, youth club. I swap my copy of Blue Cheer’s Summertime Blues for a copy of the Love single Your Mind And We Belong Together/Laughing Stock, probably the best swap ever.

1969, Spillers record shop Cardiff. I’m staring at the cover of the new Love album, Four Sail. I’ve gone in especially to purchase this album. I’ve heard a couple of tracks on John Peel. Hmm, only Arthur Lee looks familiar in the image of the band on the cover, though.

2002, Irish Centre, Leeds. The band have come on stage and stormed into the intro to Seven And Seven Is. Arthur charges onstage and starts singing, ending the song thrashing his guitar on his knees. He looks fabulous (nice shoes!), friends ask me if I’m ok as tears stream down my face. Four years later he’s dead.

 

Love photo 1

Love (l to r): “Snoopy” Pfisterer (drums), Ken Forssi (bass), Arthur Lee (guitar, vocals), Johnny Echols (lead guitar), Bryan MacLean (rhythm guitar, vocals)

Love were a Los Angeles band, Arthur Lee’s band. Formed with Johnny Echols, a childhood friend who lived a few doors down in west LA, and Bryan MacLean, an ex roadie for the Byrds. They had a troubled time during the band’s life and this is best appreciated by watching the excellent DVD Love Story with interviews with all the original members.

The first album, Love (1966), was one of Elektra’s first “rock” albums and was preceded by a single, Elektra EK-45603, their radical reworking of the Burt Bacharach song, My Little Red Book. A thumping bass and bashed tambourine lead into Arthur’s, frankly, sinister delivery of the lyrics: “I just got out my little red book, the minute that you said goodbye”.

The rest of the album is their take on garage rock with Byrdsian overtones and the highlight for me is Signed D.C., allegedly about the bands one time drummer Don Conka and his drug habits. It’s a soulful song featuring some tremendous harmonica and great vocals from Arthur Lee, though not really representative of the album as a whole.

 

Da Capo cover

Their second album Da Capo was also released in 1966, with the lineup expanding to include Tjay Cantrelli on saxophone and flute, Michael Stuart on drums and Snoopy, the original drummer, moving to harpsichord and organ. During this period the band lived communally in “The Castle” an old LA mansion in Hollywood, and most of Da Capo was written there. Arthur revisits the mansion and gives a guided tour on the Love Story DVD.

According to Arthur, Seven And Seven Is took over forty takes due to the difficulty of the drum part. It’s become a garage punk classic, with its driving rhythm and half spoken vocals, “Oop-ip-ip, Oop-ip-ip, Yeah” indeed, and then a nuclear bomb explodes.

The Castle will be, for many people, indelibly linked to the BBC Holiday show, who used it as its theme music for a number of years from 1969. I nearly fell off my chair when it first came out of the TV speaker, a Love track on BBC TV! Acoustic guitars and a harpsichord, what’s not to like?

 

Forever Changes cover image

Forever Changes was released in late 1967 to good reviews but tiny sales. It peaked at #154 on Billboard but reached #24 in the UK charts. It is only belatedly that it has been seen as the classic it is and it’s always been better appreciated in the UK. Some session musicians were brought in when the band were having “difficulties” though they sorted out their issues and recorded most of the album themselves. They were now down to a quintet with Snoopy and Cantrelli leaving after Da Capo.

So the bulk of my selections are, justifiably, from this album, packed full of classic tracks as it is. Bryan MacLean’s Alone Again Or sets the scene with quiet guitars playing the famous introduction, then the change. Strings! Trumpets! Not, as often rumoured, an afterthought, but planned from the start and worked on by Lee and David Angel, the arranger, for three weeks.

A House Is Not A Motel follows and has one of my favourite guitar solos ever when, towards the end, the drums change rhythm and Johnny Echols spits out a stunning solo that flickers and sparks then splutters to a close.

The Red Telephone
Sitting on a hillside
Watching all the people die
I’ll feel much better on the other side
I’ll thumb a ride

Now, I’ve never been very sure what Arthur Lee is on about in this song, its full of paranoia and strange images ending with Lee muttering on the fadeout “… all of God’s children gotta have their freedom”.

Maybe The People Would Be The Times Or Between Clark And Hilldale is my last selection from this album. A beautiful upbeat number with flamenco guitars and mariachi trumpets.

Bryan MacLean left the band soon after Forever Changes and Lee sacked the rest of the band and hired new, heavy rock oriented musicians for the next and last Elektra album, 1969’s Four Sail.

August, from this album, starts with the acoustic guitars we are used to but soon heads of into guitar histrionics before returning to calmer waters. It became a highlight of the band’s live sets of the time and of the latter day version of Love that I saw a couple of times.

Nothing is another favourite from this uneven album, with its pretty guitar figures and heartfelt vocals.

And here’s where Love and I parted company for many years. Both Out Here (1969) and False Start (1970) are lacking in anything up to the standard of the first four albums, not withstanding a cameo from Jimi Hendrix on the latter. Odd “lost” albums surface but the final official Love album Reel To Real appears in 1974. It’s just Arthur Lee and session musicians and includes Everybody’s Gotta Live, a fan favourite I’ve always disliked.

 

BONUS TRACKS

Your Mind And We Belong Together b/w Laughing Stock

A fantastic double A-side single from 1968 (Elektra EK-45633). At the time we all thought this was leading to an imminent Forever Changes follow-up. But no, these become the last tracks issued by this Love line up. Your Mind… has the best Johnny Echols guitar solo after A House Is Not A Motel, and Laughing Stock is 100% weirdness with its bizarre initial “Fred in bed and ride” lyrics before it crashes into the furious final section.

You’ll find both these great tracks on our Spotify playlist.

The next Love album I really enjoyed was the live Forever Changes set but none of these live versions replace the originals. It was just great to see and hear Arthur performing those songs after so many years. CDs and DVDs exist of these concerts and are highly recommended.

 

 

The official site of Arthur Lee

Arthur Lee (1945–2006)

Bryan MacLean official site

Bryan MacLean (1946–1998)

Ken Forssi (1943–1998)

Love fan site (including Discography)

Promo for “Love Story” documentary

Arthur Lee interviewed by Jools Holland on “Later” (2003)

Arthur Lee & band performing Alone Again Or on “Later With Jools Holland” (2003)

Love biography (iTunes)

David Tanner hails originally from South Wales and spent 40 years working as a librarian – the last 30 in Yorkshire – and is now happily retired in France. There are not many music genres he doesn’t like and he’s never stopped seeking out good music. Always another unknown band around the corner! He writes about music and random culture at Other Formats Are Available.

TopperPost #490

3 Comments

  1. Peter Viney
    Nov 23, 2015

    A timely reminder of Love and Forever Changes has come off the shelf today. The link to Jools Holland Show 2003 Alone Again Or at the bottom was new to me … don’t fail to click it! I’ve had it on replay. Then try You Set The Scene from the same show. Phew! My inevitable “What No?” is She Comes In Colors, which in the UK was their earliest Elektra single – the first two were issued on London in the UK as they hadn’t started their own imprint (then reissued on Elektra). It starts off sounding oddly like Family (with a gentler voice), which is why I liked it and I also had a girlfriend who favoured bright primary colours at the time, though I wondered where “England Town” was. They’re under-esteemed I think because Arthur Lee became convinced (as he wrote most) that they were “Arthur Lee and some guys” which wasn’t true, because the first three albums were the legacy. In fact their best known song, Alone Again Or, as David pointed out, was written by Bryan MacLean. Bummer in the Summer (B-side of Alone Again Or) has great attitude. I disliked “Four Sail” on release but haven’t heard it in years.

  2. Simon Jones
    Dec 8, 2015

    Excellent. I was lucky enough to catch Arthur live and this has created an excellent playlist for me. Many thanks.

  3. Dave Stephens
    Dec 29, 2015

    You’re spot on about those sleeves. Both “Strange Days” and “Forever Changes” have ones which are particularly striking even for a label that prided itself on great sleeves. Even better, the contents of both lived up to the sleeves. But it may be that it’s “Forever Changes” which lasted the course better. The Doors, of course, went on to international popular acclaim while the reputation of Love gradually grew, year on year. In my own case “Strange Days” was my first Doors LP and “Da Capo” was my first Love. I fell in love with the first side of “Da Capo” fairly rapidly even though the switch between garage and what the critics at the time referred to as “Johnny Mathis” style did take a few plays to get used to. “Changes” was always going to be a devil to follow up and “Four Sail” didn’t manage it. Whether that was due to the absence of Bryan MacLean, who knows, but Arthur never got close to his immediately preceding work. Nor did he do so with subsequent sets. But it’s still a pretty special oeuvre.

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