Love’s third album “Forever Changes” (and final album that includes all of the original band members) was released in 1967, and seemed to have taken decades to receive the appreciation it deserved. Sadly, if not embarrassingly, I did not even discover Love until I was in my 30’s (I was born in 1969) when I dove into psychedelic rock music full bore. I had always loved 60’s music, but had, for whatever reason, not dug deeper into all of the great music that was made in the mid-late 60’s, from garage psych bands to more popular west coast California psych bands like Love.
Arthur and his band expected big things from “Forever Changes,” as they were thought of as one of the late 60’s most promising young bands by that time, but band member fighting, personal problems, and poor label support took their toll on the group. So “Forever Changes” remained a bit of a blip on the radar until the late 80’s and into the 90’s, when it became quite popular due to nostalgia and the increasing availability of older music online. “The Damned,” a British band, also scored a top 30 hit with their cover of Alone Again Or in 1987.
Stunned by the lack of success of their best album “Forever Changes,” Arthur Lee reformed the band with some new members (which became increasingly common) and released their last Elektra label album “Four Sail” in 1969.
Forever Changes is Love’s most complete album, containing six single-quality songs (in my opinion) but is probably known for their timeless hit “Alone Again Or,” as well as “A House Is Not a Motel.” But read on as there is much more to this seminal album that defines the west coast 60’s psychedelic era scene and sound.
Alone Again Or
Alone Again Or has a Rumba beat and acoustic guitar intro that quickly jumps into a driving song backed by string instruments and eventually horns, with a Latin flare, but also has that classic 60’s psych pop, west coast sound. Like most of the songs on the album it clocks in at just over 3 minutes long, making the entire album incredibly accessible, but doesn’t leave out the complex 5-6 minute, traditional Love songs.
“The News Of Today Will Be The Movies Of Tomorrow.”
How true this lyric was in retrospect, and is easily one of my top three Love songs. I’m of course talking about “A House Is Not a Motel,” the 2nd track. Once again an acoustic guitar leads-off the song and quickly breaks into a driving, increasingly energetic song for the ages. Anyone familiar with Love is probably familiar with this song, so there’s not much else to say.
The album slows-down quite a bit from here, starting with the 3rd track “Andmoreagain.” It’s a dreamy 60’s west coast psych, radio-friendly bit of brilliance. What a beautiful song, and Arthur’s voice could not be better framed. The 2003 live version below from the “Forever Changes Tour” at the time, is really a treasure. Keep in mind Arthur died in 2006, just 3 years after this performance, as he had been battling illness for a some time, and many musicians did all they could to help him out. Despite great effort, he succumbed to disease (Leukemia) on August 3rd, 2006 (stem cell transplant did not work).
The Daily Planet
Maybe the most under-appreciated song on the album, it picks the tempo back-up and delivers. It’s when I got into this part of the album that I began to realize its’ brilliance. “Daily Planet” exhibits traits of early Pink Floyd and the British psychedelic style, without letting go of the band’s unique sound and style.
Quiet, haunting, but a soft acoustic song with violins that one might find themselves sinking into on an LSD trip in a meadow somewhere. Definitely a song that you need to be in the mood for, but it fits right in with the rest of the album, clocking-in at 3:02 minutes. (these track times are a departure from a lot of their previous and future tendency towards 5-7 minute songs).
The Red Telephone
A fantastic cover of a Bacharach-David song, it’s as if it were written for Love.
Maybe the People Would Be the Times Or Between Clark and Hilldale
And right back into the Latin-tinged psychedelic Love sound here, with what is possibly the most confusing song title ever. On one hand, I could imagine hearing this track in a doctor’s office waiting room during the 1970’s, or driving down the California coast in the 1960’s, and it beckons you to groove along with it. This is also one of my favorite Love tunes, and one of the more well-known tracks by the band ultimately…and it’s buried at track #8.
Live and Let Live
Odd lyrics (“the snot has caked against my pants, it has turned into crystal”) abound, but man what a great song. This one’s 5:27, and it’s for real Love fans, never gets boring or predictable, and is much more indicative of their previous work. This is one of those songs that could really be a modern hit with a smart take on it.
The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This
The “Good Humor Man” was associated with the ice cream men who visited neighborhoods in trucks during the summer, who sold “Good Humor Ice Cream” back then. It’s unclear to me if this is what they are referring to, or if it’s a play on words. Lyrics are more sparse on this one, sort of a short instrumental-heavy track with strings and guitar. I can listen to this track just as easily as any other song on the album…very consistently good from start to finish.
Bummer In the Summer
The 2nd-to-last track (10th) “Bummer In the Summer” is a short, unique track with Arthur almost rapping at a fast pace, and is completely different from any other song on the album. A great, brief reprieve that holds your interest and is over with just a bit sooner than you’d like it to be.
You Set the Scene
And here it is, the longest song on the album and also the last, no doubt that it’s not a coincidence, but it’s definitely undeserved. It’s a 6:49 minute classic Arthur Lee & Love tune, completely west coast 60’s psych, strings and horns again, plentiful dives into the short choruses, and finishes with fading horns and drums to end the album, one of the best of its era, and one of the most over-looked by mainstream culture.