#foreverchanges #love #arthurlee




People familiar with Jim Morrison and the Doors should have some idea who Arthur Lee is. When The Doors first started out as a band, their goal was to be as big as Love. It’s safe to say that they accomplished that goal. But many will wonder what was so special about Arthur Lee and Love. Why were they so important to The Doors.


Part of the allure is that like The Doors, they arose out of the L.A. scene rather than the fabled San Francisco scene. They were the hotshot band in the mid 60s that headlined all the clubs. Since much of their music is seriously underappreciated, it is likely that most people have never heard their music. That is really a shame, too. Love made some great music in this era. Most people with some familiarity might know their song Seven & Seven Is from their second album. That song makes a lot of those “Nuggets” type collections.


For me, the high point of their musical output was the brilliant Forever Changes album released in late 1967. I first discovered this album back in the mid 80s. I had read the famed Jim Morrison biography No One Here Gets Out Alive so I was familiar with the name Love but I didn’t know that much about their music. You can imagine my delight when I saw a copy of the the record Forever Changes in a record store. I seized it immediately.


I was instantly smitten with this record when I got it home and played it for the first time. There is a lush, orchestrated sound right from the start. It is interesting because, as noted in the liner notes of the expanded CD version, this was actually the bands most stripped down and acoustic based album. It has always been one of those albums that I always come back. I will sometimes forget about it for awhile. Then for some reason, I’ll think to pop it in the player again. There is still magic in this disc.  


The sheer beauty of this album is hard to define. Arthur Lee is a good guitarist and vocalist. Bryan Maclean is the other guitarist and vocalist. Between the two of them, you have the lion’s share of the songwriting duties. Now neither Lee nor Maclean is a great vocalist. Arthur Lee is a good guitarist but he isn’t as good as many other guitarists from the era. The songs just resonate with a strangeness and subtle prettiness.


The CD version includes seven additional tracks to go with the original album. This includes a couple alternate takes and some songs not released on the original album. It is a great album made better with extra bonus material. The album opens up with a song called Alone Again Or. Most of the songs have odd titles but that does not diminish their value. It’s a sweet song although I have yet to decipher all the lyrics or figure out exactly what they are singing about. This song features the classic line I think people are the greatest fun. That is really the case with much of this album, though.


It should also be noted that the band was falling into disarray at the time of the recordings. That is why the band went for such a stripped down sound. The producer Bruce Botnick noted that he was prepared to just use Lee and Maclean and use studio musicians if necessary. There were famed session guys like drummer Hal Blaine used on some tracks.


The first six songs which consist of side one on the original record combine to form a beautiful soundscape. While there is no actual concept, they just come together and form a stirringly beautiful set. A House Is Not a Hotel follows Alone Again Or. This is also a sweet song with nice acoustic guitar work. They don’t use the session horn players on this one so it has an even more stripped down sound.


Andmoreagain keeps with the acoustic accent. Botnick employed a string section to help add a lush quality to the sound. The use of a symphony orchestra or components of an orchestra had already been successfully executed by the Beatles among others. The Daily Planet has more of a rock edge similar to a group like Buffalo Springfield. Neil Young was supposed to be involved in this recording but his BS obligations pulled him away. Old man goes back to a more gentle tone although the lyrics are somewhat haunting. It is love song but has reflections on advice given from “that old man”. The Red Telephone refers to the crisis hotline between the American president and Soviet leader. There is a menacing tone to this song. There is the chant of  “wonder who it will be tomorrow, you or me?” He also issues his own ultimatum “If you want to count me, count me out.


A lot of the songs on the second side have weird titles like Maybe The People Would Be The Times Or Between Clark and Hilldale or The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This. Maybe the people is a good time rocker all about having fun. Live and let Live opens with my of my favorite bizarre lines: “Oh the snot has caked against my pants. The second side is not nearly as good as the first but it is still good psychedelic music.


The addition of alternate takes and bonus tracks round out the disc nicely. There are alternates on Alone Again Or and You Set the Scene. They also include a version of earlier single called Laughing Stock. This music will be appealing to the hardcore fans of the band. It’s a shame that Love didn’t attained the level of fame they deserved. There were many problems at the time and even in the ongoing reunions, there are problems that exist with various members. I believe a couple of the original members are already deceased and Arthur Lee did a gig in prison due to a weapons violation. But Forever Changes still stands in my mind as one of the greatest gems of that era.




Author's Notes/Comments: 

one of my all time favorite albums

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