January 18, 2011

Psychedelic 60s rock typically expands far outside the purview of this site, but since I’m staunchly anti-purview,  let’s marinate for a minute on Love. Several years back, I wrote an NME-style panegyric for the LA Weekly on Why Love are THE GREATEST LA BAND OF ALL-TIME. No need to reiterate the arguments, but I stand by the bombast. The impish Arthur Lee and his ever rotating cast of characters represent both the utopian LA of the imagination and its multi-faceted reality. Jim Morrison called them his favorite band of all-time. Mick Jagger was said to have copped moves from Lee, even Hendrix paid homage — turning in a guest spot on “Everlasting First.” While legendary record exec, Jac Holzman, signed them to ostensibly serve as Elektra Records’s flagship act.

Due to a variety of unfortunate circumstance and acid abuse, the original incarnation of Love dissolved after their one widely acknowledged classic, 1967’s Forever Changes. Though Lee and his revolving door band never matched that zenith, their work before and after is worth seeking out. Before he passed a few years ago, I was able to see the band twice, with Lee backed by post-Paisley underground psych rockers, Baby Lemonade. More than a facile recreation of faded glories, the shows managed to conjure a hazy magic that no other leather-suited sextagenarian could ever hope to match.  I don’t care how hard Brenda and the Rolling Stones rock, or how many times Ray Pruitt saw them, no one could top Arthur Lee, even after a nearly six year  jail bid for making guns sing like Bilal.

Their classic incarnation was rarely caught on film, but thanks to Dangerous Minds (via When You Awake), new footage has emerged from a 1970 concert in Copenhagen, capturing the band at the height of their psych-fusion phase. The jams are loose and weird, gravelly crunching riffs drifting aimlessly, buoyed by Lee’s fallen archangel falsetto. Bible material that we’re blessed to see 40 years late in the dead of a warm California winter.  A memento mori for a group who never got enough love.

MP3: Love – “Love is More Than Words Or Better Late Than Never”
MP3: Love-“Listen to My Song”

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