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Love: Forever Changes (Elektra)


Just perhaps...I (really) shouldn’t be bothered taking the time to review this. After all, it’s damn-well acclaimed by all serious enthusiasts of late 60s rock - and, perhaps, that’s actually the extent of the audience?

Nonsense, methinks...because this happens to be one of the most genuinely accessible musical masterpieces of the last fifty years...and, the simple fact that it’s still unknown to most casual music listeneners (not to mention fans of other sounds) is, quite simply, a standing reproach to the rest of us - rather than any (smug) cause for self-congratulation...

Allright...so, exactly what does it sound like?

Well, given the simple fact that it’s - quite simply - still unique in its sound (a genuine rarity in today’s overly-influenced era), the first thing to note is the sound of the band itself. Basically a four piece - comprising twin (hard-played) acoustic guitars, electric bass & drums - augmented at several points w/savagely-driven electric lead, that suggests - at least to the modern listener - what Lou Reed might’ve sounded like, had he been black, and from L.A....on most tracks, it’s also augmented by muscular orchestral arrangements (closely based on Arthur Lee’s sung arrangements), and what are usually described as (spare) Mariachi horns...albeit, at times, their timbral attack begins to approach that of hard jazz...

Trouble w/this sort of description is, that it makes things sound like some kinda freeform loose amalgam of approaches - which sometimes delivers - or a soul-less “eclecticism”...which (quite bluntly) never does. Fact is...and, it’s why this album turns up on so many - and varied - critic’s favourite lists, is that the result, in this case, is a seamlessly brilliant organic hybrid...so goddamn stunning, in fact, that pretty much no-one (of real talent) has ever tried to directly copy it...because, they know they’d be mocked, to high heaven, for failing to even come close to its brilliance.

Because...this album (actually!) has the sheer drive of punk rock, the intimate interlocking beauty of best folk, the tortuous - yet bizarrely natural - structural complexity of Burt Bacharach, and the straightforward melodic appeal of Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. And, if you - perhaps naturally - think that that combination is (inherently) absurd...then, my friend, it’s also obvious that you’ve never been exposed to “Forever Changes”.

Look...I could rave on - almost forever - about this album. What’s more, I haven’t even noted that Arthur Lee was black - nor have I said that he’s (undoubtedly) the finest post-Dylan lyricist of the period (just, maybe, Lou at his best, could equal?). But...hell - give me a break!

Just have a listen, please...to “Forever Changes”




John Henry Calvinist