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