York Evening Press 29/06/04.
Love with Arthur Lee, Fibbers, York
by Ian Atherton
Arthur Lee's Love have always been very much an underground band;
critically adored, but largely ignored by the record-buying public.
Recently, however, word has been spreading, sparked by the reissue of
their masterpiece, 1967's Forever Changes, a record regularly hailed as
the greatest of all time.
With its brooding lyrics, unconventional song structures, enriching yet
unobtrusive orchestration, and, most of all, truly extraordinary songs,
Forever Changes stands head and shoulders above similarly acclaimed works
such as Pet Sounds and Sgt Pepper.
Further exploration of Lee's back catalogue reveals several other dazzling
works, but in the early Seventies, he crumbled artistically as a result of
his erratic behaviour and increasing drug intake. His personal life took
an even greater downturn in 1996, when he was jailed for a string of
It seemed as though the Love story was at an end.
This was not to be the case, however.
Following his release from prison at the end of 2001, Lee began touring
And this was no financially-motivated rehash of past triumphs; this was a
true comeback, a once-fading star glowing brightly once more. Last night's
sell-out show at Fibbers provided ample proof of this.
The raging opener, A House Is Not A Motel, had the crowd in raptures from
the outset, and was followed by a graceful Alone Again Or, and then the
first real revelation, a simply stunning Andmoreagain. From here on in,
the band could do no wrong.
The lengthy set was impeccably chosen, and the highlights manifold, with
the tone shifting effortlessly between storming electric rockers such as
Singing Cowboy and beautiful acoustic tunes like Orange Skies.
Arthur Lee's voice proved wholly unblemished after all these years, and
his rich, silky tones shone throughout. Lee's new backing band made few
attempts to upstage the terrifyingly youthful star, but nevertheless
showed themselves to be truly gifted musicians.
Mike Randle's lead guitar filled the string-section-sized gap in several
of the Forever Changes tracks, and the brave decision to tour as a quintet
proved inspired, with the unadorned versions of previously musically
complex songs proving just as compelling as the originals.
Whether the forthcoming new material will be any good is questionable, yet
in many ways irrelevant. By writing the songs played last night, Lee has
raised the bar impossibly high; what matters is that these songs are kept
alive as long as he is able to play them convincingly, and that future
generations are introduced to his genius over and over again.
As a wise man once said: all you need is Love.