Love - Forever Changes (50th Anniversary Edition) (Rhino Records, 2018)
November 1, 1967 marked the release of the third, and final, LP by the original lineup of L.A. psychedelic folk rock legends Love, the band’s magnum opus “Forever Changes.”. April 6, 2018, found a 50th Anniversary Edition released on Rhino/Elektra Records, consisting of 4 CDs, 1 DVD, and 1 LP. The set collects the original album in stereo and marks the debut appearance of the mono mix in digital format, a CD of alternate mixes, a CD of rare and unreleased singles and outtakes, the LP remastered in stereo from high resolution digital audio by co-producer and engineer Bruce Botnick, and the DVD contains a 24/96 stereo mix of the album version remastered by Botnick as well as a promotional video of “Your Mind And We Belong Together” directed by Elektra producer Mark Abrahamson that was originally released in 1968.
Disc one is the stereo mix of the eleven track LP. Opening with “Alone Again Or” one of two tracks written by rhythm guitarist Bryan MacLean, the other nine being penned by Arthur Lee. The tune was one of the last recorded for the album, and was also released as a single, found in its original stereo mix on disc four along with a mono remix. Johnny Echols’ Spanish guitar work is joined by a trumpet part that mirrors it, giving the tune its wonderful personality. “A House Is Not A Hotel” is perhaps my favorite and ends with a multi-tracked electric guitar duet, with both parts played by Echols. “Andmoreagain” was one of two tunes recorded by Lee with The Wrecking Crew, but the distinctive rhythm guitars are played by Arthur Lee and Echols, disproving the conception that Lee is the only member of Love heard here. “The Daily Planet” is another delightful Lee composition recorded with The Wrecking Crew, but it contains gorgeous acoustic guitar work by Lee and Echols. “Old Man”is the second, and last track penned and sung by MacLean. The strings are especially tasteful as is the distinctive percussion. Side one closes with “The Red Telephone” a reference to the hotline between the United States and the Soviet Union. The song also discusses “numbers” which Lee said was indeed a drug reference, with marijuana joints often being called numbers in 1967. The track is Lee’s commentary on societal problems in the wake of the Summer of Love, an indication of the depth of the band’s work. Side two begins with the interestingly titled, “Maybe The People Would Be The Times Or Between Clark And Hilldale,” the location mentioned being that of The Whiskey a Go Go nightclub. The song is largely autobiographical and contains personal social commentary as well as an incredible workout by drummer Michael Stuart, who, at Lee’s insistence, pushes the beat throughout. “Live And Let Live” is a leftover from Love’s second album “da capo” and contains an incredible guitar solo by Echols, who labored through many takes before being told by Lee “Dude you nailed it.” Despite Echols’ misgivings, I agree with Lee. According to drummer Michael Stuart “The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This” was written about a white suit that MacLean wore in public, tie and all, between the recordings of “da capo” and “Forever Changes” that Lee didn’t like and which he referred to as “Bryan’s ice cream suit” because it was white like vanilla ice cream. Lee said he drew inspiration for the song’s lyrics from Lennon and McCartney, and upon listening this would indeed seem the case. “Bummer In The Summer” is a rocker in the Bo Diddley vein, with attitude typical of Bob Dylan. Echols wanted to use a steel guitar, but unable to rent one, and unwilling to buy one to play on only one tune, he resorted to playing country licks throughout the tune. The album closes with “You Set The Scene” a suite of tunes written by Lee. According to guitarist Echols, it was bassist Ken Forssi who took three uncompleted songs and put them together to form one complete track. Forssi labored for months to finish this, the album’s closer, and, indeed its tour de force. It is within Lee’s incessant repetition of the word “time” that this song conveys the essence of the album title, that changes are forever and that forever changes. Thus ends the forty two minutes and six seconds that comprise “Forever Changes,” a psychedelic folk classic that, although not being a big seller upon its original release, has over the ensuing fifty years become recognized as one of the best albums of the summer of love, and indeed consistently named as one of top 50 greatest albums of all time, being inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2008 and it was added to the National Album Registry in 2012, accolades most certainly deserved.
Disc two marks the debut of the mono mix of “Forever Changes” in digital format and is indeed a major selling part for this massive set. The sound quality is incredible, but it does not precisely echo the original stereo mix of the album, suggesting that another stereo master mix may have been utilized to create this mono mix. Disc three is an alternate mix, in stereo, that first appeared on the 2008 2-CD “Collector’s Edition” of “Forever Changes” released by Rhino Records. This version is not as clean as the final mix used for the original release and as such evidences the challenge faced by Lee and Botnick in compiling the version that hit record stores in 1967. The disc also contains an outtake, “Wonder People (I Do Wonder)” which was not included on the original release. Disc four is an interesting mix of singles and outtakes from the sessions. Of particular interest are the single versions of “Alone Again Or” and its flip-side “A House Is Not A Motel” released in April, 1968, and the non-LP single “Your Mind And We Belong Together” b/w “Laughing Stock” which saw release in June, 1968. Other items of note are “Hummingbird” an early demo version of “The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This” and a cover of Sam The Sham and The Pharaohs’ “Wooly Bully.” Of special interest is the disc closer, a mono single remix of “Alone Again Or” which saw release only in promo form in August, 1970. The disc is rounded out by various tracking session highlights and backing tracks, a total of fourteen tracks in all.
The DVD features the first ever release of the original stereo album version of “Forever Changes” in high resolution 24/96 stereo digital sound. Also included is a rare video documenting a day in the life of Love’s “Forever Changes” lineup shortly before the band broke up. The video was filmed by Mark Abrahamson and Edward Dephoure, and was intended to promote the A-side of their final single “Your Mind And We Belong Together.” It presents the members hamming it up in a sort of psychedelic home movie.
The vinyl version of “Forever Changes” is a facsimile of the original stereo album in its original format. The LP allows the listener to experience the album in the same format and and through the same technological playback system available to music buyers upon its initial release.
The 50th Anniversary Edition is rounded out by a 16-page full color insert, with an introduction by Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman, an essay and track-by-track note by Ted Olson, full color photos, full album credits and a complete track listing. Limited to 15,000 numbered copies, this set is absolutely essential for fans of 1960s rock, folk rock, psychedelic rock, Love fans, and serves as the ultimate document of one of the most important albums in rock music history.
- Kevin Rathert
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