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2023 Albums Thing 223 - Love “Forever Changes”

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I’m a fan of all of Love’s first 3 albums (“Love”, “Da Capo” and of course this one). “Forever Changes” is the most consistent of the 3 and is rightly regarded as one of the greatest albums to come out of 60’s America. I’ve said before what a time it must have been in LA in the 60’s when a wander down Sunset Strip may have given you pause to choose between gigs by The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Love or The Doors, incredible.

Love were formed in 1965 when multi-instrumentalist Arthur Lee, after attending one of those shows by The Byrds, tasked himself with creating a band that married the folk-rock style being developed by The Byrds to the rhythm and blues he was most used to playing. They began to play around LA and were signed to Elektra Records as their first rock act and had themselves a minor hit in 1966 with a version of Bacharach and David’s “My Little Red Book”. Their 2nd album later in 1966, “Da Capo”, was more experimental. It included the psychedelic rush of “7 and 7 Is” and “Revelation”, a near 19 minute epic that took up all of Side 2.

“Forever Changes” was released in November 1967 by which time Love had shifted to a gentler, folky, much less experimental sound. Tensions arose between Lee and guitarist Bryan MacLean (a former Byrds roadie) over McLean wanting more of his songs included. He only had two songs on “Forever Changes” and as one of them was “Alone Again Or” he probably had a good case. The album was far more popular in the UK than the US, reaching #24 here and only #154 in America. It has, in the ensuing years, been recognised as a milestone in American rock music and has made endless “Best Album Ever…” listings.

It starts in the most gentle manner with a Classical sounding acoustic guitar leading us into the breathy “Alone Again Or” which picks up the pace and by the time it hits the chorus is sounding almost like a Mariachi band, there’s even a trumpet solo. The rest of the album continues in a similar vein, gentle folk influenced songs, but great, great songs, interspersed with Pschy guitars and strange vocal interludes. “Andmoreagain” is a beautifully orchestrated ballad, “The Daily Planet” has something of an R&B back beat to it, “The Red Telephone” has a more psychedelic lyric, finishing on a chant of “They're locking them up today, They're throwing away the key, I wonder who it will be tomorrow, you or me?”

“Forever Changes” is an utterly timeless masterpiece, a fusion of orchestration, intricate arrangements, psychedelia and great songwriting, think of it as being akin to Burt Bacharach on Acid and you won’t be far wrong. Why America didn’t take to it is beyond me as it is an absolutely superb record and every house should have one.

Alone Again Or - https://youtu.be/cPbNpIG8x_s?si=Lms51zg3hrd05Ubh

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