Friday, May 23, 2008


By Liz Lawson on May 20, 2008 1:12 PM
Categories: Film & TV, Music, News
On July 29, much to the relief of Haddaway, we will all finally know for sure what Love is. For the first time, Love Story, the feature length documentary about seminal Arthur Lee-fronted Los Angeles rock band Love, will be released on DVD in the States.
One of the first interracial pop bands in the United States, Love boasted musicians Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix as fans, but never found commercial success, due in part to the mentally and physically unstable lead singer Lee. It also likely had something to do with the fact that all of the band's members but Lee were heroin addicts, and that Lee refused to tour and consistently turned down festival appearances. The frontman eventually spent many of the last years of his life in prison for possession of firearms, before passing away in 2006 from acute myeloid leukemia.

Regardless of the bands personal strife, Love made some incredible music, and the band's third album, Forever Changes, stands today as one of the crowning achievements of rock music. (Look forward to a review of the Deluxe Edition in Paste's July issue!)

The documentary features interview time with Lee shortly before his death, as well as the other original members of the band, and footage of Love guitarist Bryan McLean, who died of a heart attack on Christmas day in 1998. Considering the colorful history that the members of the band have, Love Story should be well worth watching.


Love Documentary Coming to DVD, Late LPs Reissued
Last year, Pitchfork reported about Love Story, a documentary about the legendary psychedelic folk/pop band Love, as well as reissues of a couple Love albums that came after their 1967 classic Forever Changes. Now, the movie is coming to DVD, and those records are getting a wider reissue on a different label.

Start Productions will release Love Story on DVD July 29. The documentary delves into the legacies of Love and bandleader/frontman Arthur Lee, who died of leukemia in 2006. In addition to interview footage with Lee himself, the movie contains interviews with all of the original band's surviving members, Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie and Mani, the Doors' John Densmore, Elektra Records' Jac Holzman, and Lord Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, among others.

Love Story also features rare footage of Love and previously unreleased footage of late band member Bryan MacLean. The DVD includes an hour of bonus material, and Bobby Gillespie wrote the package's liner notes.
As for the reissues, they are of 1969 double album Out Here and 1970's False Start, both originally recorded for the Blue Thumb label and reissued last year in a limited edition box set called Love: The Blue Thumb Recordings. These new reissues come out June 10 on Collectors' Choice and give the albums separate, less limited releases.

Out Here and False Start are notable for a more electric sound than Forever Changes, due to the fact that Lee almost entirely reassembled Love's lineup following Forever Changes' release. False Start even kicks off with "The Everlasting First", a song co-written by Lee with Jimi Hendrix and featuring Hendrix on guitar.

Posted by Dave Maher in dvd, reissue on Fri: 05-16-08: 11:30 AM CDT

LOVE STORY 14 -Arthur Lee on Jimi Hendrix

Arthur Lee Revisits The Castle

Saturday, May 10, 2008



Our never-ending love for Arthur Lee

Enduring: many of Arthur Lee's songs on the 1967 album Forever Changes are still pertinent

By Eamon Sweeney
Saturday May 10 2008

There are only three albums in existence that I've bought more than once, namely, Loveless by My Bloody Valentine, The Velvet Underground & Nico and Forever Changes by Love.

Normally, the music industry's obsession with re-issues is little short of a scam to fleece fans, forcing them to buy the same album time and again, but the re-release of Forever Changes is a different matter.

On its original release in 1967, the album failed to make an impact, peaking at 154 in the Billboard charts. However, it has aged remarkably well and is regarded as one of the greatest albums ever made.

Bob Dylan once said that people are still living off the table scraps of the Sixties. Put on Forever Changes and you realise how right he is. Modern alternative musicians such as Belle & Sebastian and Calexico owe a massive creative debt to the world's first multi-racial psychedelic band.

It's impossible to reduce Forever Changes to a single soundbite such as "psycheldelia" or "rock". Mariachi horns, strings, intertwining guitars and folk and baroque elements fuse to produce one of the most singular set of songs recorded.

The album's subject matter and tone were completely out of synch with flower power and the summer of love. Love's frontman and main songwriter Arthur Lee said: "When I did that album, I thought I was going to die at that particular time, so they were my last words."

Lee wasn't just an eccentric musician -- he was a certified crackpot. Love's drummer Bryan McClean said that when he first met Lee, he was, "so strange and unusual that at first sight I couldn't determine his gender". Elektra Records boss Jac Holzman said: "Arthur is not of this world. He lives in a world of his own creation."

During the Watts race riots of 1965, Lee drove through the chaos every day to check that his mother was safe. She was light-skinned enough to be mistaken as white, while Arthur was involved in a scene and industry where he was a black man in a mainly white world.

In the same year that Forever Changes was released, Joan Didion published Slouching Towards Bethlehem, a collection of essays named after a line from Yeats' The Second Coming. Issues Didion explored include hippies, murder and the disintegration of self-respect and morality in modern America. Forever Changes could well be its soundtrack.

According to the author and journalist Jon Savage: "The songs on Forever Changes consistently hit the places where the political chaos of the time became indistinguishable from the psychic chaos."

One of the most striking and unsettling songs is The Red Telephone, a track that lifts its title from the nickname for the phone that the US President might use to call Moscow to declare nuclear war. "They're locking them up today," sings Lee. "They're throwing away the key. I don't know who it will be tomorrow -- you or me?"

Thankfully, Forever Changes isn't some kind of terrifying post-hippie burn-out album about paranoia. Listening to Forever Changes is an uplifting and beautiful experience. The final track, You Set the Scene, is one of the most heartening and positive songs ever recorded.

After writing his masterpiece, Lee rapidly sunk into a spiral. He was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment in 1996 for repeated drug and firearm possession charges. However, he served six years and even managed to tour in 2002 and play his first Irish show, in the Ambassador.

On his release, Lee said God frequently appeared to him in prison, always repeating the same statement: "Love on earth must be."

Bizarrely, Lee was honoured at Westminster in 2002 by a motion led by Labour MP Peter Bradley. Lee was greeted by the strange sight of MP Stephen Pound dropping to his knees, giving Lee a Wayne's World "We're not worthy" welcome.

In 2006, Arthur was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukaemia. Despite chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, he died on August 23, 2006. Since his death, young bands such as Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and the Dears have repeatedly cited Lee and Love as a major influence.

Forty years after its original release, Forever Changes sounds as fresh and startling as ever. The famous line on A House is Not a Motel, "The news today will be the movies of tomorrow", is as pertinent now as it was in the late Sixties.

Not all of the best records are instant classics. Indeed, in his book on Forever Changes, Andrew Hultkrans cautions: "Be forewarned: Forever Changes initially resists interpretation, even ordinary enjoyment, and requires many spins before it casts its odd spell; once it does, though, it will beguile, baffle and thrill you for your remaining days."

- Eamon Sweeney

Backstage Pass: A conversation with Love's Arthur Lee, Part II


Backstage Pass: A conversation with Love's Arthur Lee, Part II
Goldmine writers


Love was psychedelic rock. R&B. Folk and blues. The band was at the forefront of the Sunset Strip ’60s, and singer-composer Arthur Lee was driving the train. He was friends with Jimi Hendrix and formed an interracial band before the guitarist ever entertained the notion. Love’s Forever Changes album rearranged everything — horns and strings and zigzag vocals.

At the time of this interview in 1975, Arthur Lee had disappeared himself for some three years. He was now back with a reformed Love and an album called Reel To Real. It is not Da Capo, nor is it even close to Forever Changes, but it is Love, and sometimes that’s all you need.

Do you remember where the name Love came from?

Arthur Lee: It was immediately after I heard that someone ripped my name off, The Grass Roots. There was a guy who was established, or whoever did it, he must have been established. He had the name copyrighted and all that, man.

I trusted people. I didn’t think anybody was gonna steal my name. It wasn’t my name, actually. But anyway, I think the reason I called the group Love was because rather than to hate somebody for stealing something from you, man, maybe you should love them. It would be a different approach to the whole trip. You dig it?

So, that’s how I got the name Love. I was riding on the freeway, trying to think of another name. “Well, Grass Roots is gone, call it Love?”

How did you meet up with Elektra?

AL: Elektra met up with me, man. Jac Holzman came to Bido Lido’s. He came with Herb Cohen, Mickey Cohen’s nephew. That was my first manager. He came to Bido Lido’s, man, and tried to pull a fast one.

They thought I was 26 or 27, and I signed a contract. If you sign a contract and you’re not 21 — I don’t know how the law goes today, and I didn’t yesterday either. And I sure ain’t gonna be thinking about it tomorrow (laughs)! But if you’re not 21, or you don’t have your parent’s consent or so-called judge’s consent, then f**k it, man, the contract is nowhere. So, I knew that, I knew that, man. I went ahead, and did that album with those people. I just thought up a name, Grass Roots Publishing; I lost the Grass Roots name for the group so stuck it on as the publishing company. It says Grass Roots Productions. And what happened was they found out that I wasn’t 21 when I signed that contract, man, so anything that I signed, anything didn’t matter. You dig?

So, Herb Cohen forged my name. And I had a handwriting expert under an attorney here in L.A., Al Schlesinger. “Yeah, this is legit.” I don’t see why I’d lie; it’s not important, but that’s what went down. What it was, as I said in the beginning of this particular bit, was I just thought you couldn’t have 100 percent of your publishing. I was 19, 20. I didn’t know, man.

But anyway, I gave this guy half the publishing, man. I wanted it back after I was 21 naturally, so what I had to do was buy it back. I paid five grand, got my publishing back from a guy who never had the publishing in the first place. If I could ever find that piece of paper, I got a lawsuit, you know? I’m going out and sue that motherf**ker, man!

No, that’s stupid. But, whatever.


How long was Love together before you recorded the first album?

AL: Well, we were the Grass Roots, you know, like I told you, and then all was changed was just the name change, man. We were together about six months, eight months, something like that.

Was this all stuff that you had been playing in clubs?

AL: No. We were playing “Smokestack Lightning” and “Little Red Book” and things that other people wrote and did. But I hadn’t gotten into my own thing, so when I had a chance to do an album, of course, [I said] “First thing, I’m gonna do ‘Little Red Book’ and make sure it sells.” You know what I mean? And then I’ll throw all the rest of my shit on there, man, and maybe people will go for that, too. So, it was a chance, and it’s turned out pretty good as far as I’m concerned.

Were you surprised?

AL: Yeah. What I expected actually, man, was to retire after the first album. I went through so many changes with them dudes in the studio the first time around, man. I figured, “Yeah, I’ll go through these changes with these people, because I know this record is gonna do it for me. I’ll just kiss it goodbye and retire at 21 like I planned.” Well, I’m 29 now, and I ain’t retired, man. As a matter of fact, do you got a couple bucks at the moment (laughs)? Ten albums later, shit. Same old story. S-O-S, Same Old Shit.

There were 14 songs on the Love album, which was pretty remarkable at the time.

AL: There could have been 20, man, at least. It was the first album, man; I had written all these f**kin’ songs, gone around to all these f**kin’ record companies, and every time I got turned down or somethin’, every time I went through some so-called bummer, man, I try to write somethin’ good to overcome the bad feeling that I got. I wrote “Andmoreagain” like that for sure. Here I am, upstairs with a chick that I dig, and the next thing I know, Bryan’s f**king her downstairs (laughs). There’s “And more again” and more and more and more and more, again and again and again. F**k it; it’s cool.

So on the first album, you were just trying to put down all the different kinds of things you were going through and all the different music you had in your head? There are a lot of styles on there.

AL: Yeah, man, there are, there are. The musicians weren’t up to par in the studio, man. We played so much better live. I wanted to make sure I got my foot in the door, so I wrote all those songs, and we did those songs. But we didn’t do the songs that we were drawing all those f***ing people by as The Grass Roots, you dig?

Forever Changes is kind of a big jump from the second album.


AL: To you. I can understand how you can say that and other people. To me, I’ve never had a big jump. I’ve never jumped big at all. I’m not meaning that I haven’t done a big thing or anything, but I mean the way you said that…

There were more instruments, and I think the songwriting itself had progressed.

AL: I had to try it out. I was feeling my way. Like from the first album, if they dig that then maybe I’ll get a chance to do another album.

Then, maybe I’ll get a chance to do my thing. My thing was the Forever Changes album. That’s when I finally got a chance to do my thing, and I wasn’t worried about whether the public was gonna buy it or whatever.

Forever Changes took a while to record.

AL: Yeah, it did. It took longer because the guys... they got headstrong or something. Neil Young came in, and he was supposed to produce the Forever Changes album. He had all these studio guys down in there, and I’m spending all this bread. And then my group would come down and check these guys out; then they’d go out to the studio.

The bass player would tell the studio bass player what to play. And I’d say, “Well, what the f**k? If you knew what to play, how come you didn’t do it?” Because we went in the studio and tried to do that song, and those dudes were somewhere else, man. So, after seeing my money go down the drain, those motherf**kers, then they got it together enough to do at least what they did on Forever Changes — which I think is still mixed wrong. The engineer at the time, Bruce Botnick and I, we were really at a poor understanding of who he thought he was and I knew I was him anyways (laughs). I knew he was me anyway.

Why not just produce it yourself?

AL: I produced Vindicator myself. But why not produce it myself at that time? Because I still didn’t understand… I didn’t know how far I could go. I started off singing and playing the accordion and all that stuff; I didn’t know how far. When it got into things like business, the organizations like publishers and producers and all of that, I didn’t know. I didn’t know if I could do that or not. That’s why I didn’t produce; I did produce it, though!

Was the band doing much touring during this period?

AL: We weren’t doing anything, but we were up and down the West Coast. What they wanted us to do was go and eat shit. I just wasn’t going for it, because I had my $50 a month pad; I was eating every day. And I just didn’t see why I had to go out on the road and eat shit. You know? Like The Doors came along right after us, and they went out and ate shit, and Elektra did everything for them. A little shit goes a long way.

If they had set up some good tours for you, would you have gone out?

AL: I went out. I went out, man. We did the best we could.

I mean if they had taken care of you more. You just seem bitter about going out on the road.

AL: I wasn’t bitter, man. I wasn’t. I just didn’t feel like going that’s all. It was either I was so young, it was either my hair wasn’t long enough or I didn’t have the right kind of pants on. Now, that’s how stupid the trip was. No shit.

Did you think going on the road might help you sell more albums?

AL: I always thought that if something was good, it would get through anyway — whether you went out on the road or not. There’s a guy now, Barry White — how many times has he been out on the road?

Next thing you know, he’s playing at the Hollywood Bowl! Now, I don’t know how many people came or what, but I know that the dude ain’t no work-at-the-Whiskey-six-months-and-then-go-to-the-Troubadour. But he’s selling; he’s got the #1 record now, and he’s doing all this shit now. That’s why I thought it was gonna happen for me.

For the Four Sail album, you got an entirely new band.

AL: On Four Sail, it was spelled F-O-U-R, but it was really like a For Sale sign in front of a house. I needed some bread. So the group was for sale. No shit.

You were fed up with them?

AL: Well, Elektra, yeah. I had done the last thing for Elektra, and they didn’t do me no justice as far as the way I look at it, man. Maybe they would have if I had applied myself better than I did, but I didn’t, and they didn’t. So f**k it. For sale! Love’s for sale, who wants to buy?

(Bob) Krasnow came along, Blue Thumb Records. He bought it. That’s cool, you know. I wanna tell you something right now, man. I ain’t never been on a record company that I didn’t try to do my best. A lot of people can say that this guy goes from record company to record company just for the front bread or whatever and jacks them up. That is bullshit, man. Anything that I do, I want to make sure that I do it the best that I can. It may not sound good sometimes to you or even to me, but man, I try to do my best.




The more things change . . .

Wednesday, May 7, 2008 - 12:00 pm
Let’s talk greatest Los Angeles bands for a second. Depending how you’re wired, there are roughly a dozen candidates for the throne. If you tend to spend a small but significant minority of your time swallowing spoonfuls of liquid acid on Venice rooftops, the Doors, the Beach Boys, the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield/CSNY and maybe even Sublime make your shortlist. If you’ve rocked a green Mohawk and/or owned a Henry Rollins spoken-word record, you’d probably lean toward Black Flag, X, the Minutemen or the Germs. If your personal hairspray use has emitted enough CO2 to wreak serious havoc on the ozone layer, there’s Van Halen or Guns N’ Roses; if you’re inclined toward Latin music, Los Lobos looms, and if you’re into being wrong, there’s always the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Love accurately rendered everything that makes L.A. wonderful and everything that makes it warped.

Love accurately rendered everything that makes L.A. wonderful and everything that makes it warped.
Then there’s Love, the least commercially successful and arguably the greatest of the bunch, a band whose reputation rests largely on the strength of one perfect document: 1967’s Forever Changes, perhaps the most quintessentially Los Angeles record there is, a seamless summation of the town’s fun-house angles and myriad complexities. Unlike the aforementioned groups, whose masterpieces tended to be manifestations of particular Angeleno subcultures, Love’s picture of Los Angelesis very much a native vision. Frontman Arthur Lee divines dark prophecies that pull from the pulse of L.A.’s noirish underworld; its Hispanic heritage emerges in plangent pinpoint trumpet blasts from a Tijuana brass band. The sepia tones of the old Sunset Strip spring to life: California blonds in sundresses and flatironed hair, hippies in Day-Globeads and kaleidoscopic color, flailing in long-forgotten nightclubs, starkly contrasting with images of the riots in the streets and the flatfooted fury of the crewcut, pug-nosed Parker police force.

Love’s third effort contained multitudes precisely because the band’s geographically scattered and racially diverse composition mirrored the city of a million scenes. Lee and lead guitarist Johnny Echols grew up in South L.A., attended Dorsey High, developed a Booker T. & the MGs fixation and were well-known in the local club scene by the time they formed Love in their early 20s. Rhythm guitarist-vocalist Bryan MacLean, the author of “Alone Again Or” and “Old Man,” grew up in Beverly Hills, the son of an architect to the stars. He liked show tunes and counted Liza Minnelli as his first girlfriend (apparently, the two of them used to sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” together while sunning themselves poolside). Meanwhile, despite a Sarasota upbringing, Love bassist Ken Forssi had already played on the Surfaris’ “Wipe Out,” the seminal West Coast surf-guitar song. With such inherent tension built in, the only possible outcome was disaster, particularly considering the ravages of heroin addiction, Lee’s megalomaniacal genius and an ill-fated idea to cohabitate a hilltop Los Feliz mansion nicknamed “the Castle,” previously owned by Bela Lugosi.

Sure enough, the initial June ’67 sessions for Forever Changes infamously flamed out when the band’s disarray forced Elektra to recruit session men to record “Andmoreagain” and the Neil Young–arranged “The Daily Planet.” But when they regrouped that September, something changed. According to legend, stirred by the realization of their own expendability, Love played with a newfound sense of urgency and hunger. The quote most frequently cited about Forever Changes is that Lee thought he’d die immediately upon its completion; it’s difficult not to interpret it as an early requiem for the troubled singer-songwriter, who passed away last year from leukemia. Just 22 years old, Lee seemed spooked by revelation. On “A House Is Not a Motel,” he foresees “the news of today [being] the movies of tomorrow.” On “The Red Telephone,” he blithely croons about “sitting on a hillside watching all the people die,” before finishing with a flourish about getting locked up with the key thrown away, foreshadowing the legal struggles that would haunt his future.

But other than the winking homage to the strip of land adjacent to the Whisky a GoGo on “Maybe the People Would Be the Times or Between Clark and Hilldale,” Love veered away from any concrete evocation of Los Angeles. Instead, Forever Changes captures the way the city feels,the cadences of its sunny, stuttering locomotion, the halcyon sand-and-surf California of the imagination clashing with smog, stripped resources and stark realities. The undercurrent of fear and alienation sluicing through a city where the stakes seem so high and the odds so stacked. Its timelessness stems from the notion that as much as L.A. changes, it will always retain certain immutable qualities that Love’s music captures: the baroque excess evidenced in the airy strings that buoy Lee’s celestial wail, the furious fusion of styles and sounds, the laidback folk-rock melodies and the latent, orchestral anger.

That’s why Rhino can reissue Forever Changes for the second time this decade, with the only new material on this latest edition a few unreleased acoustic demos, a half-assed cover of “Wooly Bully” and a much-vaunted alternate mix practically indistinguishable from the original. It really doesn’t matter. What does is the accuracy with which Love rendered everything that makes this city wonderful and everything that makes it warped. So that even today, with their Los Angeles a faded memory, few greater joys exist than slipping Forever Changes into your CD player on a bright spring morning after a cold, clean rain, when Los Angeles glows with a gold and green tint.

Start at the intersection of Sunset and César Chávez, let the rich metal rain of “Alone Again Or” dazzle you, horns scattering in synchronicity with the Mariachi strains buzzing off of Olvera Street; angle past the band’s old stomping grounds in Los Feliz. Let the album loop through Beverly Hills, the platinum light flooding your car, careening past the salmon-colored walls of the Beverly Hills Hotel, only blocks away from MacLean’s childhood home. Ride this strange bullet out all the way to the beach, where if you’ve looped it just right and the traffic gods have smiled on you, you might just hear the fragile fatalism of “You Set the Scene” slap up against the roaring waves of Sunset Beach — with the tacit understanding that not everything changes.

The more things change . . .
Wednesday, May 7, 2008 - 12:00 pm
There are 4 comments posted for this article.

"if your into being wrong,theres always the red hot chili peppers" i laughed so hard i blew diet coke out my nose! great article i love LOVE.
Posted on Thursday, May 8, at 1:17 pm by Chloe

Whenever I really, really miss home (I'm now in Georgia), Forever Changes is just the godsend it has always been.
Posted on Friday, May 9, at 1:38 am by david c

Forever changes while no thing stays the same. Not in LA. But the ladies of the canyon might be feeling scorned by Feff Weiss' excellent rendering in precious memories of the halcyon and busy days of the Strip(how could he have left off the the Turtles?)via the best album of rock music our city ranged over-Loves' "Forever Changes". The Byrds,Doors but esp. The Buffalo Springfield might have known a hotflash or two of those ladies' scorn at being held lower than Arthur Lee's rambling but brilliant masterwork. Stills and Young with Bruce Palmers underrated bass also kept up with Love's LA myth-making in a prodigious laying down of "where-it's at" from the Sunset Strips own riot music "For What It's Worth" to the edgy personalities of the music's scene-"Mr. Soul" and, finally, to the memorializing of those wonderful LA women-"Bluebird" and "Rock and Roll Woman". I mean nowadays I "can't even sing" while driving in LA any more. But LA? with or without me it is still "Uno Mundo" all the same!
Posted on Friday, May 9, at 10:19 am by barnabus Zeus Palmatier

I'm glad to have read Jeff Weiss' article on LOVE, because it sums up my feelings pretty well. I grew up in LA in the 60s and I thought that they are the hottest band around. If only they had toured more, they would've been even more famous. Both Arthur Lee and Bryan Maclean were musical geniuses, and I never get tired of listening to them. They created some music that people can enjoy forever. How many bands can you say that of?
Posted on Friday, May 9, at 3:30 pm by Randy Martin