Saturday, April 1, 2017

Love - Forever Changes

Forever Changes (AM8), Love: Critics likened Forever Changes to "a soundtrack for LSD;" it's hard to disagree. There's a strong psychedelic feel but not in the way of other works of the time. Unlike most contemporaries who just stitched acid-rock cliches together, Forever Changes' psychedelia is borne from genuine, visionary genius. Musically it resembles folk rock with symphonic orchestration and the occasional guitar freak-out; the strings and brass give the album its lushness, texture, its Latin and Middle Eastern feel. Cinematic, evocative, and enigmatic, the lyrics cut deep, and you can't figure out exactly why. The general mood of the album eschews a lot of the communal optimism and celebratory spirit of the time; rather, there are underlying currents of foreboding alienation and dread alternating with wonder, romance, and reflectiveness (and all at once!)

The album today seems curiously dated yet remarkably fresh at the same time. It manages to sound simultaneously like the Byrds yet tougher, the Doors less forced, Burt Bacharach less maudlin, Pet Sounds less white-bread, Bob Dylan less rambling. Absolutely essential. Do not miss the incredible finale: "You Set the Scene."

Funny that there is a consensus of the greatest albums ever made - certainly controversy and argument even over the top contenders, even within our individual souls - but it's interesting that there are LPs that crop into the convo this far left of center. Forever Changes, though, fails of its own accord. It's as if the purpose behind the psychedelic age is forgotten in a blur of ingested, injected and inhaled substances; an age when youthful optimism threatened entrenched authority only to cripple itself under the weight of wasted ideals and opportunities. (Yes indeed, a hippie criticism from AM). Forever Changes, however great, how ever perfect an LP, stands, not for idealism, but for lost innocence, an innocence that faltered quickly, however eternal remain the ideal. Indeed, Love wasn't exactly the most fitting name for Arthur Lee and company. Falling into a self-destructive path after two mildly successful albums, the band had begun to use heroin heavily, shunned the music event of the decade (Montreaux Festival, where Jimi Hendrix and the like made history), and fucked their business relations.  Yet within the midst of chaos, Arthur Lee delivered breakthrough songwriting that isn't quite "garage rock" or "pop" along with apocalyptic lyrics (he thought he was dying while making the album).  The drum and guitar solo in "A House Is Not A Motel" has to be one of the ultimate "HELL YEAH" moments in rock.