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Buffalo
Fourth Love

Canada
132 Posts

Posted - 02/08/2010 :  19:40:43  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
By: Cody Sokolski
Forever Changes: Arthur Lee & The Book Of Love
By John Einarson
(Jawbone Press)

Arthur Lee was a singular talent. And truthfully, painful as it is to acknowledge, most of his brilliance shone over the first four Love albums on Elektra Records.

Back in the prehistoric days of rock journalism, I believe that it was in Paul Williams Crawdaddy Magazine that Lee’s voice was described as a black man trying to sound like a white man (Jagger, I believe was the inference) trying to sound like a black man. Whether or not the description was fair or even right, it does give one a sense of the confusion surrounding this truly amazing artist.

“Forever Changes: Arthur Lee & The Book Of Love” paints a pretty good picture of an artist in an almost day to day struggle to be himself and with himself.

John Einarson is a well known writer of books on rock ‘n’roll (Neil Young, Buffalo Springfield, Flying Burritos Brothers and many more) who does an excellent job of getting the facts - and more importantly, the atmosphere of the times to the printed pages. In “Forever Changes,” Einarson intersperses excerpts from Lee’s own unfinished memoirs. He is very successful in capturing the moments of the early psych Los Angeles music scene and writes in a way that lets the reader feel like everything is happening in the present. Einarson firmly details the music of Lee from the humble beginnings to the rocky ending and every moment is sabotaged by wild mood swings, genius, drugs and a debilitating fear of touring.

The unspoken fear of touring probably owed a great deal to Lee’s sensitivity to the fact that in 1967, being a multi-racial rock ‘n' roll band presented a whole host of issues on the road. And then this would be exacerbated by the cloudy mindset of constant drug usage. Sadly, Lee was one incredibly self-medicating destructive artist. And everyone in Love bought in wholeheartedly to the drug revolution. And, as the book is also the story of the band Love, there are ample quotes from all involved in the band, in particular Lee’s right hand man, guitarist Johnny Echols, as well as, the yin to Arthur’s yang, Bryan MacLean. All the stories are here; Snoopy the drummer, who was apparently always in danger of being tossed out, Ken Forssi, Michael Stuart and the various producers and engineers.

The last third of the book is dedicated to the sad, slow and eventual decline of Arthur Lee. He was generally forgotten, at least in his own country. The drugs, the paranoia, the inability to maintain relationships with musicians (or women), the temper, the records of descending quality, the insecurities and jealousies, the time in prison, the bad decisions and distrust of everyone are all there to see. Sometimes, it is painful to read, because you start to feel how much of a trainwreck Lee’s life and career were.

The one bright spot in the decline of Lee is that, in the last 10 years of his life, due to the caring and respect of several devoted and long-suffering European promoters, he was able to go to Europe and reclaim some semblance of the dignity and respect that was rightfully his due. But even then he still ran the risk of alienating those whose only goal was to help him.

For those of you only vaguely aware of who Love was, “Forever Changes: Arthur Lee & The Book Of Love” would be a great place to start your catch up on this seminal band. However, the real glory will come from the early music of Authur Lee and Love.

John9
Old Love

United Kingdom
2117 Posts

Posted - 02/08/2010 :  20:46:25  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Cody Sokolski obviously favours the book...although he seems already to have formed his own judgement about the timing of Love's 'decline'. Indeed, a lot of what he writes is aligned with the John Tobler/Barney Hoskyns school...i.e. that Love really ended with the demise of the original group in 1968. I would love to see someone wax lyrical one day about all the great compositions that Arthur wrote in the couple of years following Forever Changes...and about the gifted musicians who helped bring them to life. In my book, Four Sail and Out Here were no less worthy follow-ups to Love's masterpiece than The White Album and Abbey Road were to Sgt Pepper. If I were reviewing the John Einarson's volume I would want to stress the fact that it addresses this autumnal period much more fairly than we've ever seen before......except perhaps in earlier essays by Brian Hogg and Andrew Sandoval.

Edited by - John9 on 02/08/2010 21:00:45
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Joe Morris
Old Love

3431 Posts

Posted - 03/08/2010 :  01:33:02  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Love never followed up Forever Changes, that was always the problem. The original group fled, and Arthur went in a completely different direction because (according to Arthur) his FS band didn't like Forever Changes, which is doubtful

By the 90s Arthur was putting out songs written by mystery composers ("The Watcher"?)
and some rudimentary blues jams (ie, side 2 of Five String Serenade)

shame more music/video has never surfaced of that original band. But then they only lasted a few years!
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bob f.
Old Love

USA
1308 Posts

Posted - 03/08/2010 :  05:10:24  Show Profile  Visit bob f.'s Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hell....I'd give Matthew Katz's right arm for an original line-up LOVE concert film!

...what the world needs now...
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Joe Morris
Old Love

3431 Posts

Posted - 03/08/2010 :  06:35:25  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
is Matthew Katz dead yet .. Sundazed will be delighted
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John9
Old Love

United Kingdom
2117 Posts

Posted - 03/08/2010 :  09:49:12  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Joe Morris

Arthur went in a completely different direction



I think that between 1965 and 1970, Love were always going in a different direction.......and that's what helped to make their music some of the most compelling and innovative of the rock age. My point really was that it is a pity that so many critics confine themselves to the first three albums when assessing the band's legacy to the world.

Edited by - John9 on 03/08/2010 10:08:47
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Joe Morris
Old Love

3431 Posts

Posted - 03/08/2010 :  16:13:58  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thats the problem with peaking so early, apparently

I mean, it took Arthur YEARS before he would finally play the 3rd album (the third coming - whoo hoo!)
in its entirety
live, and that was only after he escaped prison

Of course that was the only album people really wanted to hear. Nice to hear Stephanie and the early ones, but I do think Forever Changes was the best album they ever recorded

Or anyone ever recorded, actually

Pretty funny that Bryan never listened to it after hearing it the first time, thinking the mix "prosaic". I guess it never matched what the band heard on
going on playback

And yet curiously the band WAS successful commercially after, at least in the UK. Wasn't that silly double lp on Blue Thumb top 30 there or something
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sometimesmylifeissoeerie
Fourth Love

197 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2010 :  06:45:08  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The reviewer's first sentence mentions the brilliance of the first FOUR Elektra LPs- not the first THREE.
Quite rightly so- AL still had his muse going on the Four Sail LP.
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ruxprncd
Fifth Love

305 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2010 :  07:25:18  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Agree that the first 4 albums are brilliant. That said, I love Four Sail, but in terms of sound (not lyrics) the differences (vs Forever Changes and side 1 of Da Capo) are that the Four Sail band a) didn't have a chance to apply their craftsmanship to the songs - they were basically demos - and b) even if they DID have the time, IMHO they wouldn't have matched the subtlety and beautiful touch of Maclean, Echols, Forssi, Stuart.

In terms of lyrics, obviously FC is head and shoulders above (basically everything :).
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Joe Morris
Old Love

3431 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2010 :  16:01:56  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
When did Arthur write the songs for Four Sail. Its not outlandish (I think) to suggest that he may have had songs lying around, as well as acoustic intros and such

Four Sail is not BAD as such, but coming after Forever Changes... Christ, even Snoopy liked that, and he had been sacked right before they recorded it, which can't have been easy
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rocker
Old Love

USA
3606 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2010 :  16:55:43  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Not sure but did any of his songs on 4 Sail hit radio out there in LA? There were 3 that I thought had good hooks.."I'm with You","Always See Your Face" and Neil's Song. Arthur at his melodic. And after FC who wouldn't wnat to get away from all that he thought about to get that stuff on tapes? The sometimes melodic and raucous 4 Sail I think cleared his head a bit.
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bob f.
Old Love

USA
1308 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2010 :  21:44:46  Show Profile  Visit bob f.'s Homepage  Reply with Quote
rocker, I was living in L.A. when " Four Sail" came, got the LP right away, and can't remember radio interest at all. Me and my brother went to the Whiskey agogo for their show, and it was reeely good. my ears were ringing for hours after, and i was blazing...
i guess it was 1969, or early 1970. it was the Four Sail band (of some incarnation of it, not sure about the actual line-up at that show, but it was THAT group). yes, they did "August".
but , then, again, I was a fan of LOVE/Arthur Lee, and did not care at all about radio plays of their records then, (but I do now!), just me and my friends were like a LOVE cult, a secret club , outsiders who just loved the undiscovered music and magic of LOVE , and I liked that Four Sail album, 'cause it was still close enough to the classic, and yet knew, it was a completely different group.
Radio was hit and miss for LOVE , and my own record player was always on hit mode for Arthur Lee!

...what the world needs now...
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rocker
Old Love

USA
3606 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2010 :  22:19:02  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
thx for sharing bob...same here with 4 sail...I always liked the record...played it alot..here in the East there was ABC-FM which I thought was real 'progressive' at the time if you get the drift...they did play some of Love's stuff and I liked that..I thought they were a station playing things real off the cuff..you could bet no other station would play what they played.. and and an LA BAND no less so I had to be grateful being here in the East. LA and New Yawk are kind of diff, you know? The dj's here were kind of locked into certain sets. The whole place needed AIR here at the time!
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gatemouthmoore
Fourth Love

202 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2010 :  23:33:12  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The original Love, could fill the Hollywood Bowl, with several thousand people.
Arthur's side-men could barely fill the Whiskey, with one hundred twenty five
"paying" customers. That should tell you how well the [new] "Love" was accepted
by the people.

GMM.
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John9
Old Love

United Kingdom
2117 Posts

Posted - 05/08/2010 :  01:29:49  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by gatemouthmoore

The original Love, could fill the Hollywood Bowl, with several thousand people.
Arthur's side-men could barely fill the Whiskey, with one hundred twenty five
"paying" customers. That should tell you how well the [new] "Love" was accepted
by the people.

GMM.



But then as we know, the quality of music is not defined by its popularity......the paying public can be notoriously fickle. My inclination is not to put the name of the later band in inverted commas. I really do believe that Arthur, Jay, Frank, George and Gary deserve better than that. Whilst no one could seriously claim that Four Sail and Out Here were masterpieces, they both contain enough interesting music to make them worthwhile....and I for one am delighted that Love continued after 1968, albeit in a different guise.

Edited by - John9 on 05/08/2010 01:31:37
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Joe Morris
Old Love

3431 Posts

Posted - 05/08/2010 :  01:46:02  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
curiously, Arthur seems to have been playing with the original band (Johnny, Michael) and with the Four Sail band as well, in 1969 (Santa MOnica)

Imagine being his publicist!

Dunno if there was a single from Four Sail. His label (well, Holzman) seems to have lost faith in the group by that time.

I understand Arthur was recording the album on the cheap, with rentals

I guess he got the advance and didn't pay the others too well, as Suranovich (at least) left because of money disputes

I doubt if any of them did well financially out of Love, what with playing live only once a month and
Lee holding all the publishing
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