Saturday, August 05, 2006

Alone Again Or

Arthur Lee, singer and leader of Love has died aged 61, after a fight against Leukemia. When I was 15, I had a glossy Encyclopedia of rock, which was full of alluring images of album covers, with band names as mysterious as Captain Beefheart, or as simple as Love. The more I read about their classic "Forever Changes" the more I wanted to hear it. Song titles like "Andmoreagain" and "Alone Again Or" piqued my adolescent interest. When I heard that my current favourites, Aztec Camera sounded like them, that was it. I think I finally got it from the then wonderful Virgin on Bull Street in Birmingham. I liked it from the moment I put the needle to the record, though was perhaps surprised how light sounding it was. For "Forever Changes" despite a couple of rock-out guitar solos is an acoustic record. I still listen to it, that same much played copy from 1982, but also the remastered reissue. Arthur Lee's Love were more than one record to me, though. I love the simple beat-pop of their eponymous debut, and the tight psychedelic classics that form side 1 of "Da Capo" - even side 2's rambling blues "Revelations" - and both "Four Sail" and "Out Here" have some good songs on. But its "Forever Changes" that dominates. Sad, as Syd Barrett's recent death was, eulogies about his genius seem slightly overblown, but I've no doubt in declaring Lee a genius - only the Velvet Underground's debut matches "Forever Changes" as a consummate piece of art from that period. Bryan Maclean, his partner in the band, died a few years ago, but with Lee's passing, it does feel that the sixties is even further away. Of course he toured with a recreated Love over the last few years, even triumphantly replaying "Forever Changes" in its entirety, and, one hopes, received some of the acclaim the band always deserved. Poetry magazines these days can almost seem like obituary columns, and as that sixties generation moves on for one last trip, the music papers are beginning to have a similar feel. As always, though, there is the music.

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