Tuesday, 22 September 2015

"Forever Changes: Remastered & Expanded" by LOVE (2001 Elektra/Rhino CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...



"...Movies From Tomorrow..."

After their West Coast 'Rock Music' self-titled debut album in July 1966 - LOVE progressed rapidly for Elektra Records to the more accomplished "Da Capo" in November 1966. But it was their third album "Forever Changes" released Stateside in late November 1967 (February 1968 in the UK) that fully realized the band’s songwriting magic and is the 'one' LP in their fractured canon of work that has stayed in people's hearts - even grown in stature.

Yet in hallowed hindsight of 2015 - it seems strange now to think of "Forever Changes" as a commercial disaster on its 1967 release - when for nearly three decades it has regularly topped the 'best albums ever' lists. In 2005 it was even given the prestige of true cult status by making the "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die" book. Yet "Forever Changes" crawled onto the American charts – making it to a lowly No. 154 in the first week of 1968 (months after release) – worse than the No. 80 placing of "Da Capo" in February 1967. Over here in Blighty when it was belatedly released in February 1968 where it did far better – rising to 24 in that same month. Those canny Brits andmoreagain eh. Here are the 'movies from tomorrow'...

UK released October 2001 – "Forever Changes: Remastered & Expanded" by LOVE on Elektra/Rhino/Warner Strategic Marketing (R2 73537) 8122-73537-2 (Barcode 081227353728) is a single CD that offers the Stereo mix of the LP as well as seven bonus tracks (five Previous Unissued). It plays out as follows (74:22 minutes):

1. Alone Again Or
2. A House Is Not A Hotel
3. Andmoreagain
4. The Daily Planet
5. Old Man
6. The Red Telephone
7. Maybe The People Would Be The Times Or Between Clark And Hilldale [Side 2]
8. Live And Let Live
9. The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This
10. Bummer In The Summer
11. You Set The Scene
Tracks 1 to 11 are their third album "Forever Changes" – released November 1967 in the USA on Elektra EKL-4013 (Mono) and Elektra EKS-74013 (Stereo) and February 1968 in the UK with the same catalogue numbers. The Stereo mix is used for this CD.

BONUS TRACKS:
12. Hummingbird (Demo) – Early Version of "The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This"
13. Wonder People (I Do Wonder) (Outtake)
14. Alone Again Or (Alternate Mix)
15. You Set The Scene (Alternate Mix)
16. Your Mind And We Belong Together (Tracking Sessions Highlghts)
Tracks 12 to 16 are Previously Unissued

17. Your Mind And We Belong Together
18. Laughing Stock
Tracks 17 and 18 are the A&B-sides of a June 1967 US 7" single on Elektra EK-45633

There’s a tasty outer card slipcase which lends the whole release an air of class - while the substantial 24-page booklet has jam-packed liner notes by BEN EDMONDS with major contributions from David Housden and Mark Linn who publish the LOVE fanzines “The Castle” and “The Love Society”. There are photos of the band’s classic line-up – Guitars and Lead Vocals by ARTHUR LEE, Lead Guitar by JOHN ECHOLS, Rhythm Guitar and Vocals on "Alone Again Or" and "Old Man" by BRYAN MacLEAN, Bass by KEN FORSSI (ex Surfaris) and Drums by MICHAEL STUART (both MacLean and Forssi passed away in 1998). Inbetween the dense text (which includes quotes from original producer Jac Holzman and guitarist Johnny Eccles) are fantastic colour snaps of the boys in San Francisco and there's even a rare Billboard advert for the album describing it as ‘the third coming of’ under the see-through plastic tray. The liner notes discuss Bob Pepper's gorgeous 'coloured faces' psych-collage artwork too. It's all very pleasingly indepth...

But the big news is a new Remaster by two of Rhino’s most trusted names – DAN HERSCH and BILL INGLOT (done at Digiprep). Like “Love” and “Da Capo” in this series of reissues - this CD sounds incredible and has clearly had Audio care lavished on it. Producer JAC HOLZMAN and Engineer BRUCE BOTNIK have their original work Production work - come shining through now – especially on those lavish string and brass arrangements. There's also real bottom end clarity in the Bass and Drums – very warm and present on tracks like "The Daily Planet" and "Maybe The People Would Be The Times Or Between Clark And Hilldale".

"Forever Changes" opens with the wonderful "Alone Again Or" voiced by Bryan MacLean. It’s short 3:16 minutes of beautiful string and brass arrangements were in fact edited for a US 45 in April 1968 on Elektra EK-45629 with "A House Is Not A Hotel" as the flipside (bit of a storming two-sider). Lee takes over Lead Vocals for the utterly brilliant "A House Is Not A Hotel" which opens with layered acoustic guitars but then breaks into left-speaker Electric Guitars. I've always loved the wild soloing guitars ripping across the speakers as strange voices whoop and holler in the background. I’m always amazed at the arrangements on "Andmoreagain" which to this day still sounds so 'Love' in a way that no other band could have produced this weirdly beautiful song (you can hear its influence in so much 70ts British Folk Rock like Decameron, Magna Carta and Audience). There's a real punch now to the rhythm sections for both "The Daily Planet" and "Maybe The People Would Be The Times Or Between Clark And Hilldale" – while Bryan MacLean's delicate vocal on "Old Man" is almost quivering in its frailty – and those strings remind me of Nick Drake's "Five Leaves Left" debut in 1969.

"Live And Let Live" opens with the delightfully acidic lyrics "...oh the snot has caked against my pants...it has turned into crystal..." - and imagine the flattery his lady feels as sits on the couch opposite and he "...recognises your artillery..." More weird song subject matters come with "The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This" – a ditty of a song that is trounced by the brilliant "Bummer In The Summer" – a fantastic song that sounds like The Lovin' Spoonful on a rhythm roll. The near seven-minute monumental finisher "You Set The Scene" feels like several songs run into one with brilliant Audio on the Bass, Strings and Acoustic Guitars. What an accomplished work...

The Bonus Tracks opens with a voice in the control room "...Arthur Lee and his Psychedelic Band – Track 16 – Are we rolling?" We then get "Hummingbirds" - a genuinely pretty acoustic instrumental take of "The Good Humor Man Sees Everything Like This" in Demo form. Just as good is the brassy "Wonder People (I Do Wonder)" – a jaunty track that would have made an excellent stand-alone single. The Alternate Take of "Alone Again Or" isn't that different from the finished article - but the 7:02 minutes of "You Set The Scene" has a different vocal arrangement deleted from the final album cut. The "...Michael Stuart this is your take..." version of "Your Mind And We Belong Together" turns out to starts and false starts from Take 22 through to 33 and offers a rare glimpse of Arthur Lee doing his best Brian Wilson in the studio. It finishes on the cool non-album single "Your Mind And We Belong Together" sounding edited and well - together - with the Doors-weird "Laughing Stock" on the B-side. "...Fred in bed and ride, ride, ride..." Whatever you say Arthur - yeah baby...

I suspect as the years pass music fans will keep on rediscovering this rich tapestry of sounds and melodies – and like "Sgt. Peppers" from months earlier in 1967 – "Forever Changes" is fast approaching a 50th Anniversary – and still remains shockingly ahead of its time. 60ts cool indeed – and well done to all at Elektra and Rhino for getting the Audio so beautifully right...

This review and hundreds more like it are available in my SOUNDS GOOD Music Books Series. Click the link to download COOL 1960s MUSIC from Amazon...

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