Originally posted on May 14, 2008
If someone were to compile a list of the top—say—30 art-rock albums recorded 1965-70, and I am sure someone has, Love’s third album Forever Changes should be on it. The group in its first incarnation had a quirky folk-rock-cum-everything-else feel to it. Mainly due to writer-singer Arthur Lee and, to a lesser extent, Brian MacLean, the band managed to be musical and relevant in very interesting ways. The Forever Changes album was the last with the original lineup and in an important sense was a culmination of much of what they had been working on up to that point. It did not sell well when first released, but became an underground favorite for its widely ranging, unexpected juxtapositions of style elements and penetratingly direct, thoughtful lyrics.
Elektra/Rhino has just come out with a 2-CD Collector’s Edition that gives you the entire LP in its final mix, plus another mix that is subtly different. Some alternate takes and non-album tunes complete the set, and they add to the vibe of the period. There’s a tongue-in-cheek version of “Wooly Bully,” for example, that underscores how far they had driven away from mainstream radio pop. And the whole thing manages to sound fresh today. How many others from that period do?