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  1. 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

  2. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...

    During the pandemic madness the Lottery Winners issued a covers album, “Sounds Of Isolation”, so “Something To Leave The House For” is the original material follow up to “Lottery Winners”. There’s a couple of major differences on this one. Firstly bass player Katie Lloyd gets to sing some lead vocals, three in total “Sunshine”, “85 Trips”, “Love Bites”. 

    Secondly there are a number of collaborations with some celeb mates. “Dance With The Devil” features KT Tunstall, “Start Again” includes Frank Turner and “Bad Things” is graced by Sleeper (whether that is all of them or not isn’t made clear).

    Overall it’s a little more subdued than “Lottery Winners” but there’s still more pop sunshine in here than you’ll find most anywhere else.

    Start Again - https://youtu.be/RMV-4zrdSl4?si=2iHRS_RFdZ6_2Sq5

  3. And another alphabetically out of step new acquisition...normal service will be restored real soon... 

    If you read Steve Earle’s sleeve notes for “So You Wannabe An Outlaw” the album is dedicated to the memory of Waylon Jennings. So the outlaw in the title is an outlaw country singer rather than a Billy The Kid type o' lawbreaker. The outlaw country singers were a group of artists who rose to prominence in that 70’s and 80’s including (but not limited to) Waylon, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard. Some of those guys had been in the business since the 50’s but in the period in question they broke away from the all powerful Nashville machine and reclaimed their creative freedom.

    That outlaw country ethic is continued still by people like Sturgill Simpson and, of course  Steve Earle. He learned his trade at the feet of masters like Waylon, Tompall Glaser and Townes van Zandt as a 20 year old who had runaway from a normal life to pitch up in Nashville and be a songwriter. On opening song “So You Wannabe An Outlaw” he shares a little of what he’s learned, snarling 

    So you wanna be an outlaw, buddy take it from me,

    This living on the highway ain’t everything it’s supposed to be

    He then hands the second verse over to a genuine Outlaw, Willie Nelson. This album is Steve Earle getting back to the Country after his Blues album “Terraplane” and a folky collaboration with Shawn Colvin and next song “Lookin’ For A Woman” is real Country. 

    “The Firebreak Line” is a tribute to the firefighters who take on the wildfires in the US and nods its head to Ed Pulaski who invented the axe you commonly see US firefighters wielding which is known as a Pulaski. That’s followed by a beautiful ballad, “News From Colorado”, written with ex wife Allison Moorer and his niece Emily Earle.

    Elsewhere in those sleevenotes we mentioned earlier, Earle admits that being out on the edges of society, as he and many of his mentors have been for much of their careers, means loss comes naturally and he’s been attending a lot of funerals recently. Waylon has gone now, so recently have Merle Haggard, Leon Russell and two of Earle’s “personal teachers” Steve Young and Guy Clark, the latter of whom is the subject of the album propers final song “Goodbye Michelangelo”.

    This  2xLP version includes the albums 12 tracks plus 4 tracks from the Deluxe CD edition, covers of songs by Billie Joe Shaver, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings quite superb “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way”, it’s a pretty damned good version of it too.

    This as is good a Steve Earle album as I’ve heard. There’s Country, there’s angry, there’s tributes to ordinary workin’ folk and a couple of great ballads. Steve is one o’ the good ones and worth some of anybody’s time.

    The Firebreak Line - https://youtu.be/81QQEblc8HQ?si=DxMy21DKUKGi3CCP