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Love is a band that never achieved the commercial success it deserved at the time of release of its albums, instead gaining critical acclaim years after the band had finished recording.
Love’s album Forever Changes was released in 1967 and barely even made it onto the Billboard 200 list at the time; now it’s heralded as one of the greatest records of all time. The album, produced and written primarily by Arthur Lee, combines elements of ’60s psychedelic rock with Flamenco and Spanish influences, resulting in an album essentially like nothing of its time. And although the album was delayed due to problems with the band’s conflicting views on the music and the inability of the members to work together, the final product is polished and precise, and even though it was Arthur Lee’s first time producing an album, the sounds are fresh and the music is well–layered.
The main single from the album, “Alone Again Or,” is unpredictable and beautifully arranged. No matter what mood I’m feeling, this song always has a way of matching that certain emotion. If I’m happy, the song makes me feel passionate and lively about being with someone, but if I’m alone and sad, the song reflects that as well, with its lyrics speaking of a lover that Lee waited for who never came. The Flamenco guitar throughout the verses is soothing and majestic, and matches perfectly with the switch of tone and mood the chorus brings.
The other single on the album, “A House is Not a Motel,” brings more fire and energy throughout than “Alone Again Or,” relying heavily on electric guitar licks and a faster paced drum line. In contrast, most of the other songs on the album are softer with more Flamenco guitar, and are incredibly sentimental. “The Red Telephone” matches violin with Flamenco and creates a somewhat eerie mood when matched with Lee’s ever-changing vocal style and McLean’s backing vocals. The songs on the album deal with paranoia and grieving, and reflect the time the band was living in.
Arthur Lee believed he was on the brink of death before recording this album, and thought he had to create a masterpiece before it was too late. Thankfully, he achieved this vision and created one of the most well–balanced, magnificent and exciting albums ever recorded, with lyricism and music that was ahead of its time. The album wasn’t some 1960s ode to peace, love and drugs like most of the music was at the time — it was full of poetry and intricate stories and narratives. When I think of late 60s Los Angeles, Jimi Hendrix and The Doors aren’t what I think of — it’s Love and its unwavering refusal to conform and its willingness to experiment with a new direction. Forever Changes is a timeless record that reflects the time in which it was created in a way you wouldn’t expect, and is what makes rock and roll truly relatable and beautiful.