Monday, July 19, 2010

Most Loveable Music

The discovery of Love was something a bit unexpected to me. I had known about the band for years but never quite come around to listen to the music – apart from the song Alone Again Or which I had adored ever since I heard it for the first time. The song is such a surprising thing and I didn't expect to find anything like it among 60s pop hits: an extremely heartfelt, actually heartbreaking song with lots of Spanish music feel. Very, very impressive.

Then my friend (whose taste in music is considerably different from mine) recommended that I should check out Love. My friend had apparently listened to Love's first album and it somehow sounded suitable for me. So, I took this advice and started listening to Love Story 1966-1972. After many hours of listening to the first CD and later the second I was beginning to be totally charmed. Listening to the band's incredible baroque arrangements and absolutely lovely melodies was such a pleasure. This band I will not want to give up anymore!

Love, an L.A.-based band existed from mid-60s to early 70s producing several excellent albums and later reuniting in different forms. The era of psychedelic music had a strong influence on the band's music in the late 60s. Love was not only a psychedelic rock band but also used elements from baroque pop, garage and folk.

On the first album (self-titled, 1966) Love sounds a lot like the Byrds. It is no coincidence as Arthur Lee, lead singer, songwriter and guitarist, in fact, wanted to capture a Byrds-like jangly sound in his band's music. Can't Explain is a good example of this Byrds sound. The song and its bittersweetness remind of I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better, while My Flash on You, as well as the band's famous version of Burt Bacharach's My Little Red Book, show Arthur Lee's punk side. The same jangly sound is also present in the longing of Softly to Me and No Matter What You Do. Today, Love's first album is well-respected but it is still not as spectacular as what was yet to come from the band in late 60s.

On Da Capo (1967) Love took a step towards baroque. Both harpsichord and saxophone are introduced in the first song Stephanie Knows Who, a song that makes interesting use of waltz rhythm and Arthur Lee's energetic punk expression. Compared to its predecessor, Da Capo is a more complicated and psychedelic album in many ways. It includes elegant and melodically lovely songs Orange Skies and ¡Que Vida!, and on the other hand, high-energy psych-rock songs like 7 and 7 Is. Da Capo includes loads of great songs, fresh song structures, cool baroque instrumentations, and all in all, plenty of interesting music! Perhaps the most memorable song is She Comes in Colors: a melancholic, wonderful baroque pop song. I also have to mention that I love playing these songs on the guitar and singing them too!

The next release was called Forever Changes. It opens with Alone Again Or, written by Love's other songwriting force, Bryan MacLean. Well, well... If I had to make a list of favorite songs of all times I might end up placing this song in the top 10. Everything about it is just perfect. And it is just the beginning of one of the best albums ever recorded. This was the second release by the band in the same year - what a year for Love! To me, this album and, in fact, the whole band, are such wonderful things because Lee and MacLean write impeccable melodies... Melodies beyond impeccable, really – stunning is a more suitable word!

A House Is Not a Motel charms with its melancholy and mighty guitar solos in the end. Then comes Andmoreagain, a song that is a perfect match for the Left Banke's baroque beauty. There you have one of the prettiest melodies you have ever heard, some acoustic guitar and strings... A baroque classic! Of course, it is not even the only one on this same album.. The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This on the b-side is equally great and charms even more with its magnificent string arrangement that is supported by horns.. Listen to this while lying on a green lawn, looking at the blue sky and you will feel like you are floating away to another world.. A world of Love.

Old Man is not the punchiest song of the album but just listen to the arrangement! It is such a pleasure to listen such well-crafted, symphonic music. The Red Telephone is a more cathy melody and just as excellent when it comes to the instrumental performance. Maybe the People Would Be the Times or Between Clark and Hilldale is another long title, another lovely, A++ song, one of my favorites. When you think about Arthur Lee's singing on the first album, he sounds like a whole different man here: more confident, more convincing and at the same time more vulnerable, more human.

Bummer in the Summer changes the mood after the baroque loveliness of The Good Humor Man... This time the melody and Arthur Lee's vocal performance are a bit unusual but they suit the song well providing interesting variety. The last track You Set the Scene downplays the catchiness in the beginning but by the end of the song has left a permanent impression – that is what I would call a really haunting melody. Forever Changes is a psychedelic baroque pop/rock classic album and should not be missed by anyone who is interested in... music. This album is a gorgeous combination of acoustic and electric sound with some of the loveliest, best string arrangements AND horns I have ever heard.

On Four Sail (1969) (which I haven't actually heard entirely) there are more cool songs that are definitely worth listening. Love Story contains about half of this album – they are the ones I have heard. The Love Story 2CD compilation doesn't skip hardly any songs from the first three albums but later selects more carefully. The reason to this is probably wanting to focus on the early material. The opening track of Four Sail is August - a cool combination of another beautiful Arthur Lee melody and psychedelic restlessness. Your Friend and Mine – Neil's Song is great fun, and Singing Cowboy and Robert Montgomery are also really catchy pop songs. Always See Your Face is pretty and memorable. Lovely, oh so lovely..

The same year (1969) came out Out Here that added more great songs to Love's catalog. I'll Pray for You is one of the happiest Love songs. Arthur Lee also gives out two stunning folky ballads: Listen to My Song and Doggone. On Love Story the latter is presented in an edited 3-minute form - the original album version is 12 minutes long. Doggone actually sounds like a lullaby. Run to the Top is another really nice, happy song. Listening to these songs actually makes me want to hear the whole album.. I should get all Love albums that I don't already have.

Love's first 70s album was called False Start (1970) and showed influence from Jimi Hendrix who even played on the album providing lead guitar to The Everlasting First. By the seventh album Reel to Real all original members had exited Love with the exception of Arthur Lee who still wrote songs for the band. The latest incarnation of Love apparently toured as recently as 2009. Even though almost no one from the original line-up has survived to the 2010s (Lee passed away in 2006), Love keeps influencing music and new people.. like me. Check out Love if you already haven't!

Love site (by Torben Skott)
The official site of singer, songwriter and poet, Arthur Taylor Lee
Love discography

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