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kdion11
Old Love

USA
552 Posts

Posted - 20/04/2007 :  21:06:24  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
[quote]Originally posted by ThomasGalasso


Thanks for the welcome back.


From what I know of Arthur, and just my own guestimations I would say his greatest influence musically was not Jimi Hendrix at all. Its common knowledge that The Byrds were the initial influence for the self titled debut version of the group, but overall I would say Arthur was a teenager who idolized Chuck Berry, Johnny Mathis, Nat "King" Cole, and James Brown to name only a few.

KD: Hey Thomas. Based on the numerous times I talked to Arthur and saw him perform, he'd always pay homage to the following two people:
John Lennon and Charly "Yardbird" Parker !

Free the heroes !
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The sweet disorder
Fourth Love

United Kingdom
214 Posts

Posted - 20/04/2007 :  22:32:13  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Kdion and Thomas

Nice to have the both of you back.

In terms of influence I accept the comments that Arthur was influenced by Chuck Berry/James Brown/Johnny Mathis but Arthur always reminds me of John Lennon, bear with me on this!!! in that they were both conduits or sponges of what they were and what was around them. I always think the biggest influence on Arthur especially on Forever Changes was Bryan. I can imagine Arthur listening to Bryan playing the major seventh chords and then twisting them leftfield into his own songs. The same with Four Sail when he was probably listening to the power trios of the time and melding them into his songs. Jimi Hendrix is some of his later work and so on.

The question is whether in what incarnation Arthur was at a particular time. was the music any good? and the obvious answer is yes. There is a sense of missed opportunity about him and that those quicksilver songs of youth were just beyond him but what we are talking about is a major artist with a major body of work and at his very best he ranks alongs with the very best. I always thought that there was one fantastic song in him within his later years and sadly that seems to eluded him. I for one can live with what he left us though
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bob f.
Old Love

USA
1308 Posts

Posted - 21/04/2007 :  03:28:08  Show Profile  Visit bob f.'s Homepage  Reply with Quote
this is a stretch, but i want a re-issue of the House Of Blues 8-19-03 Concert on Castleblue lable. many of us have various audience audio recordings, but the video dvd from Castleblue is a must that must come out again. yes, i realize the financial aspect and such, but there it is to be.

...what the world needs now...
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jazmaan
Fifth Love

USA
315 Posts

Posted - 21/04/2007 :  08:01:48  Show Profile  Visit jazmaan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Yes Arthur was definitely a fan of Nat Cole and influenced by him. Just last night I was listening to some OTR (Old Time Radio) on my Ipod. When Frank Sinatra was just 25 years old he already had his own weekly radio show "Songs By Sinatra". Every week he'd record it in front of a live audience of screaming teenage girls. (I think many people have forgotten that young Frank inspired screaming female hysteria long before The Beatles or Elvis.)

On last night's show his guest was Nat Cole singing his new record "The Frim Fram Sauce." They joked around a bit and then Frank sang "I Found A New Baby" while Nat played jazz piano behind him.

I bring all that up to say that Nat was a big influence on young Frank Sinatra AND on young Arthur Lee!

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ThomasGalasso
Old Love

USA
712 Posts

Posted - 23/04/2007 :  03:07:53  Show Profile  Reply with Quote


The "Wig Album" was certainly a low point in Arthur's career, and in my opinion so was Reel to Real. RSO records was not that great of a label, in honestly Robert Stigwood somewhat helped to create this mess that is Top 40 Radio today.


RSO even used cheap materials. They didn't use vinyl for the record that is Reel to Real. They used plastic and some other really bad material as can be evidenced by how thin sounding the record is.


I feel the songs on Reel to Real were still a bit late even in the soul genre for those times. Arthur being influenced by John Lennon I am sure is something of a fact, and again during those times, who wouldn't be ?


-Thomas


The truth is, like many great artists there is only so much in the perverbial gas tank before one starts running on empty. From what I know of Arthur's personal life during those times, he had a lot going on which prevented music from being his main focus. It is truly sad, but even bad Arthur is still good, and at least interesting. The 1981 album is definetly somewhat of a poor answer to Rick James' Street Songs of that same year, but again I still listen.
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rocker
Old Love

USA
3606 Posts

Posted - 23/04/2007 :  16:44:05  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
You know maybe it looks like Arthur was destined to be like a shot roman candle. I'm not sure but I'd suggest that perhaps the answers could be with the close relationships he had and maybe lost that affected his work and life. Artists don't like to be "reined in" so to speak. I've always thought he needed someone like himself to stand up to him. Perhaps to challenge him and make him question things. I was glad to see Arthur involved in his material these past few years. It showed that he understood his legacy and work. I think only he knew if he was satisfied with his creative life as he lived it through the years.
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jimmyboy
Fourth Love

USA
234 Posts

Posted - 24/04/2007 :  03:55:29  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I agree with Thomas that "Reel to Reel" was PRETTY WEAK!!I was in the record business and when I heard that a new Love lp was coming out I was ready but man was a shock.Same with Vindicator. I know I am inviting harsh words but thats how I feel. I even saw the group at Winterland on the tour to promote "Reel..."They were bit better live but still quite sloppy. A then unknown Patty Smith introduced Arthur and "Love" with a big AM radio style introduction. Best tune on "Reel.." for me is "Which Witch is Which".As far as the House of Blues DVD goes I don't see why Arthur's estate would want to hold back such a prize. I'm sure the infamous New Guy whom is in fact the producer,would too but its probably out of his hands.Fortunately I found one at Amoeba in Hollywood about 6 months after the actual show which I was lucky enough to attend.I really think it was the PEAK of his performing career after he returned in 2002.His voice,his charm and wit and manner were magnificent,to say the least.
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ThomasGalasso
Old Love

USA
712 Posts

Posted - 25/04/2007 :  04:25:08  Show Profile  Reply with Quote


For me, anything post Out Here is a stretch for my own liking with maybe the exception of Vindicator. I like Vindicator a lot, or maybe its the idea of it that I really like. The garish album cover, the glossy elements that when it boils down to it, are meaningless.


The idea of an angrier, loopier, zanier, Arthur Lee on his own with this hard electric crunch are very appetizing, but the end result is a very standard, yet enjoyable electric blues/memphis shuffle type of a record.


I find Reel to Real to be the product of RSO's continued pollution of music with the whole disco thing. While I admire some of the musicianship on the record, and I really like "Which Witch Is Which", I have a deep disdain for the reprise of "Busted Feet" and "Singing Cowboy".


I must admit I do have a serious love for "You Said You Would" which has quickly become a drunken favorite of mine, as well as some friends. The cover of "Be Thankful For What You Got" is damn good, but its William DeVaughn's tune and sounds too much like the original.


All in all, it is an interesting footnote in the album history of Arthur Lee, but from what I know to be true, his bandmates during that time played some amazing live shows, but unfortunately Arthur's writing wasn't up to par, and the label he was on wasn't either (RSO).


-Thomas


I must contend, that I like Vindicator, but it is such a departure from what Lee was known for that it can be hard to like. Think of it this way : Lee made a career out of being drastically different from everyone else in music, and then all of a sudden to join the ranks of the mere music mortals, its disappointing.
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ruxprncd
Fifth Love

305 Posts

Posted - 25/04/2007 :  07:03:59  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
TG, I consider a lot of his singing on Vindicator to be superhuman / anything but mortal...but I understand what you mean. I think this illustrates the importance of the rest of the original band - especially Bryan, Johnny, Kenny, as well as Michael's drumming on FC. They were all very talented and integral to the diversity and uniqueness of those albums.
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ThomasGalasso
Old Love

USA
712 Posts

Posted - 25/04/2007 :  07:30:52  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

You are right.

The singing on Vindicator is beyond anything a mortal can do. I should not have used that term, I wanted to illistrate how composition wise, Arthur had left a territory that was much more compelx and cutting edge with the Elektra albums (including Four Sail), and had entered the arena of Top 40 radio with Vindicator.


Vindicator and Black Beauty represent much less sophisticated arrangements however, Arthur's vocals were beyond normal. His vocals on songs like "Midnight Sun" and "Sad Song" are incredible. The man was even then still ahead of his time.


Think of it as if Radiohead were to all of a sudden start doing three chord garage rock. Tons of their fans would be disappointed and perplexed.


With Arthur, he kind of did that and Vindicator from what I know was a fun experience for Lee and it even sounds like it judging from the song titles and the lyrics. What could be more fun than recording some Memphis shuffle style music almost like what you grew up with ?


-Thomas


As for Reel to Real, I just felt that by then Arthur's substance abuse was beyond out of control and began to take even more of a toll on his creativity and his energy level when it came to getting out of bed and thinking about making original music. It seemed as if he was listening to others and wanting to make some money. Which makes sense because artists like Sly Stone did it as well. Lord knows people like David Bowie did it as well, the difference being that Arthur seemed to let his bad habits take over so much that his output was even less than that of a washed up Bowie or Sly.
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rocker
Old Love

USA
3606 Posts

Posted - 25/04/2007 :  16:53:10  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Well here's a few questions. What did Arthur think of Vindicator and RTR? Was he pleased with his work? If not, ok, creative guys surely know when they're good and when they're not so good. On the other hand, it certainly looked as if Arthur went in a different musical direction that he wanted to try. (so did we want to go with him?) Well from the foregoing the jury notes that compared to what went before it didn't pass muster. Who knows? Maybe Arthur felt like he let everybody and himself down and then the vicious cycle erupted affecting his life. FC I'm sure brought tremendous pressure and artistic responsibility on him.
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ThomasGalasso
Old Love

USA
712 Posts

Posted - 25/04/2007 :  22:48:35  Show Profile  Reply with Quote


In regard to how Arthur may have felt about his later albums from maybe False Start through the "Wig Album", I have some theories and maybe a little insight.


From what I know of False Start, Arthur was experiencing a period in his life where he wanted to connect more with his African-American consciousness. He wanted to be a bit more militant and racially political with the times as evidenced by what could be considered the first "black rock" song with "Stand Out".

(Note if anyone is confused by "black rock" it is an unofficial sub genre that somewhat covers the sounds of Jimi Hendrix, Fishbone, Living Colour etc. it is something that has always raised a lot of debate as it is a very alienating way to look at the music)


False Start picks up on Arthur wanting to go acid rock and sound more like an African American as opposed to his more unique and ambigous sound. I personally feel while non of the songs are truly bad, they just are not that great either. It sounds like an album full of B-sides without any real hit. It doesn't tread on too much new ground.


As for Vindicator (which actually is at least part of the aborted 1971 Love album at CBS), I feel he had to have been happy with it. I understand from a friend, that he said he had more fun making that record than any other he recorded. Vindicator is continuing with the "black rock" thing and Arthur is reinventing himself as a garish, over-the-top, almost tongue in cheek Chuck Berry/Jimi Hendrix for the 1970's. I feel where Arthur may have dropped the ball with this one is the fact that he didn't tour to support the record.


There is an interesting story that talks a bit about Vindicator in Record Collector magazine, or maybe Classic Rock. Either way, the both issues have Freddie Mercury on the cover, and came out after Lee's passing. There are some words from guitarist Charles Karp. I don't feel there is much for Lee to feel any real creative disappointment with.


As far as Black Beauty goes, this is the beginning of the longest running Love lineup of any sort which includes guitarist Melvan Whittington, bassist Robert Rozelle, and drummer Joey Blocker. This group essentially could be considered a super group. Rozelle and Whittington had played previously with the likes of Little Richard and James Brown. I know Black Beauty was going to be on the Buffalo imprint which was owned by Michael Butler at the time and he put a lot of money into the second Arthur Lee solo album which was produced by Paul Rothchild.


(Another sidenote is that Buffalo records had come close to getting The Buffalo Springfield to reform however Neil Young wasn't so much into it.)


I fee like the songs on Black Beauty are amazing from a musicianship standpoint, but a lot of the writing is clearly trying to fit in with the times, so it is as if Arthur has officially decided to just try and make some money and while doing it he began lifting other chords and arrangements. An example would be the song "Midnight Sun" which is without question "Axis Bold as Love" just with different lyrics. Melvan Whittington was such a dynamic guitar player many thought that was Jimi Hendrix. Melvan is still an amazing guitarist by the way. I think Arthur was not dissatisfied as he had now reinvented himself yet again as a soul rocker with even more of a street edge.


As for Reel to Real. This is where I feel Arthur took the money RSO offered and ran. Again the same essential lineup as with Black Beauty, and they toured Europe and did songs from both albums. This should have been yet another Arthur Lee solo record in the opinions of many as it is arguably an interesting sidenote in the discography of Love, but at the same time it is way off base in terms of being lined up on a shelf next to the Elektra and even Blue Thumb recordings. RSO is part of the downfall for modern music in my opinion, and they were a wealthy company and paid Arthur well for this record. At this point in time, I do not believe Arthur was making art at all. I read somewhere in an interview where he somewhat regretted making Reel to Real, saying he was "lost".


-Thomas
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floweringtoilet
First Love

19 Posts

Posted - 04/05/2007 :  17:39:36  Show Profile  Visit floweringtoilet's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I find Reel To Real to be a very enjoyable record, although it has very little to do with previous incarnations of Love. As Thomas thoughtfully points out, starting with False Start there is an emerging "black" consciousness in Lee's work, and Reel To Real is his final, full on embrace of soul music. Now of course the record is far from perfect. It does seem that Lee was running out of songs (the album features 3 remakes and a cover!). But the band is very tight and funky, and Lee's vocals are both beautiful and soulful. There is a lot of evidence that Lee was pretty out of it around this time, but to me he sounds engaged with the material. The effort was there, which wasn't always the case with the later material.

I have to admit when I first heard the album many, many years ago I thought it was a complete waste of time--it just didn't sound like Love to me. But having gone back and listened to it again recently, I think it works on it's own terms--a kind of mix of 70s soul and heavy rock. The production is very slick and commercial, it sounds like something that could have been played on AM radio circa 1974. How you feel about the album will probably depend largely on what you think of AM radio circa 1974. Personally, I have no problem with Lee trying to connect to a wider audience or make a few bucks in the process.

Also, it is important to keep in mind that in 1974 Love was largely not regarded as the legendary band they are today. They were mostly thought of as a forgotten 60s band that didn't sell many records. It makes sense to me that Lee would want to try something in an entirely different bag under those circumstances. It's too bad it didn't work out better for him--he might have been better off dropping the Love name altogether at that point, especially considering how different the music was from what had come before.
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rocker
Old Love

USA
3606 Posts

Posted - 04/05/2007 :  22:14:44  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
You know one thing I find puzzling is that Arthur really didn't get around cutting records with other top name people back when like Hendrix, the Beatles, the Byrds, Eagles or those in the South or Detroit.....etc. We all know the "super-groups" at the time. Guess it wasn't Arthur's scene or there's more to it than that. Arguably, maybe it looked as if things had to go Arthur's way or the "highway"..i.e. that is he had to have full control.
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ZFarrar
Fourth Love

USA
161 Posts

Posted - 05/05/2007 :  20:53:16  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Vindicator was a Jimi Hendrix tribute album, it had no Crenshaw feel. Glasco, is an articulate but inaccurate revisionist. Love was equal part Lee & Mclean, at least the band that received the version of Love that became legendary. Bryan was a huge influence on Arthur, while AL may have idolized Little Richard, where do you find that musically?. You don't. Do yourself a favor, listen to some sample tracks fromt he new Bryan Mclean CD, a couple tracks sound like Love from Forever Changes. Why didn't Arthur record with other artists, it was the nature of his personality,which is a pity. Although the idea of him recording with the Eagles is laughable, talk about a band that had no soul or depth and ripped off Buffalo Springfield, Byrds, Burrito Brothers etc. that would be the Eagles.
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