By Sam Perduta / Special to The Recorder
Love were one of those sixties bands who had more influence on the world of music than actual commercial success, much like Buffalo Springfield or the Velvet Underground (The Jesus and Mary Chain, Fleet Foxes and Okkervil River claim Love impacted their music greatly).
Fronted by Arthur Lee, the first African-American frontman/guitarist in a rock n’ roll band (he was producing records while Jimi Hendrix was still on the “Chitlin’ Circuit”), Love were the kings of the Sunset Strip from 1965-68.
They discovered and signed The Doors to their record label, Elektra Records, and could count The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, and Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd as fans. Their 1967 album Forever Changes is a cult-classic and minor masterpiece, and stands out as one of the most unique records of the sixties.
Forever Changes is an album that grabs you from the start. The songs combine folky guitar strumming, West Coast psychedelia, existential lyricism, and Herb Alpert-esque brass sections, with great pop sensibility and harmonies.
The actual music is very uplifting – very reminiscent of other California bands of the time- but the lyrics are dark and brooding, and as introspective as anything Bob Dylan ever wrote. This is because Lee thought he was going to die while making the record, and wanted it to be his goodbye.
He belts out, “What Is Happening and How Have You Been/Got To Go But I’ll See You Again/And Oh, The Music Is So Loud/And then, I’ll Fade In To The Crowd”, and you know he truly feels like he’s about to leave the world forever.
The main theme of the lyrics are the dark side of the “peace and love generation”, and contain many existential themes, which can be found in songs like “The Red Telephone” and “The Daily Planet”. The lyrics are so well crafted that the subject matter creates an almost “anti-chemistry” with the backing music. The album has a feel and atmosphere all its own.
Love’s Forever Changes is a masterful album by a band that was at its breaking point, in more ways than one. Due to Lee’s growing paranoia, and rampant drug-use within the band, Love split in 1968. While the members continued to make music in other outfits and produced great work, Forever Changes remains their pinnacle, and is a must-listen for any serious fan of sixties rock, or music in general.
A two-disc collector’s edition of Love’s Forever Changes was released in April of 2008 and is available in music stores nationally.