Wed, June 18, 9pm EDT - Love's Forever Changes

Let me start by saying that I've never heard another album like Forever Changes.  I suspect that even if someone were to purposely set out to make a comparable album, they would surely fall short of capturing the brilliance contained in this 1967 release.  Arthur Lee's writing (and Bryan MacLean on two tracks) paired with sensational string arrangements make for an album that is best left to purposeful listening rather than attempted verbal or written praise.  Res Ipsa Loquitur - the thing speaks for itself.

Join me on June 18th as we make the journey from "Alone Again Or" to "You Set The Scene" and attempt to describe what it is that makes Forever Changes one of the greatest albums of all time.  

15 comments

  • John T

    John T NY

    Since I won't be able to join in on Wednesday evening I thought I would leave a few comments before the show starts. First, let me say that Forever Changes is one of my favorite albums of all time. In many ways it is a perfect contrast to White Light/White Heat which was the last album we listened to as a group. That album was described by John Cale as the Velvert Underground making music that was "anti-beauty". Forever Changes, on the other hand, is Love's (or more precisely leader Arthur Lee's) conscious attempt to make music that sounded "pretty" with a heavy use of strings and horns which results in very accessible listening at least initially. But to dismiss the album as just schmaltz or soundtrack music is really to miss the point. The music is in juxtaposition to the lyrics which can be quite dense and bracing when listened to closely. The topics reflect the late 60's political climate focusing on the Vietnam War, racial tensions and the counter culture's revolt against the conventional system and status quo. From the political "The Daily Planet" and "The Red Telephone" to the alienation of "Maybe the People Would Be the Times" Lee captures the 60's atmosphere of active resistance that existed but avoided sounding like just protest music. The lyrics were complex and sung with such emotion that together with the music created a very powerful artistic statement. The tension between music and lyrics is most apparent in the opening verse of "Live and Let Live" which even to this day can feel like a jolt (I will be interested in seeing the group's comments on this). From the album cover to the production and music, Forever Changes in my opinion has stood the test of time and is still a great listening experience to this day. I hope everyone feels the same way and I envy those who might be hearing it for the first time. It is a truly unique record and one that Love or anyone else could ever reproduce.

    Since I won't be able to join in on Wednesday evening I thought I would leave a few comments before the show starts. First, let me say that Forever Changes is one of my favorite albums of all time. In many ways it is a perfect contrast to White Light/White Heat which was the last album we listened to as a group. That album was described by John Cale as the Velvert Underground making music that was "anti-beauty". Forever Changes, on the other hand, is Love's (or more precisely leader Arthur Lee's) conscious attempt to make music that sounded "pretty" with a heavy use of strings and horns which results in very accessible listening at least initially. But to dismiss the album as just schmaltz or soundtrack music is really to miss the point. The music is in juxtaposition to the lyrics which can be quite dense and bracing when listened to closely. The topics reflect the late 60's political climate focusing on the Vietnam War, racial tensions and the counter culture's revolt against the conventional system and status quo. From the political "The Daily Planet" and "The Red Telephone" to the alienation of "Maybe the People Would Be the Times" Lee captures the 60's atmosphere of active resistance that existed but avoided sounding like just protest music. The lyrics were complex and sung with such emotion that together with the music created a very powerful artistic statement. The tension between music and lyrics is most apparent in the opening verse of "Live and Let Live" which even to this day can feel like a jolt (I will be interested in seeing the group's comments on this).

    From the album cover to the production and music, Forever Changes in my opinion has stood the test of time and is still a great listening experience to this day. I hope everyone feels the same way and I envy those who might be hearing it for the first time. It is a truly unique record and one that Love or anyone else could ever reproduce.

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    Wow! Thanks for your comments John. Those words will certainly be a great introduction for us Wednesday night, regardless of whether or not we've heard the album before. Not having been around in the 60's, it is difficult for me to truly grasp the context of this album within the political, emotional and cultural context of the times in which it was created. With that being said, I think many of the themes of the album still ring true today and are given new meaning in our current environment. That is just one of the reasons that makes this album so brilliant and timeless. Although I've listened to the album probably hundreds of times before, I will listen Wednesday night with your comments in mind and try to imagine the weight of Arthur's words as they fell on the ears of listeners for the first time in the turbulent 60's. I can't wait!

    Wow! Thanks for your comments John. Those words will certainly be a great introduction for us Wednesday night, regardless of whether or not we've heard the album before. Not having been around in the 60's, it is difficult for me to truly grasp the context of this album within the political, emotional and cultural context of the times in which it was created. With that being said, I think many of the themes of the album still ring true today and are given new meaning in our current environment. That is just one of the reasons that makes this album so brilliant and timeless.
    Although I've listened to the album probably hundreds of times before, I will listen Wednesday night with your comments in mind and try to imagine the weight of Arthur's words as they fell on the ears of listeners for the first time in the turbulent 60's. I can't wait!

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    Quick reminder as we prepare to listen to Love's 'Forever Changes': Please make sure to periodically refresh your browser so you can see all the comments as they are posted. Thank you to everyone for joining! This is a great one

    Quick reminder as we prepare to listen to Love's 'Forever Changes':
    Please make sure to periodically refresh your browser so you can see all the comments as they are posted.

    Thank you to everyone for joining! This is a great one

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    Album Night officially starts now! Start track 1 (hit play or put the needle down on side A) of Love's Forever Changes. Share your thoughts right here as you listen! Enjoy!

    Album Night officially starts now! Start track 1 (hit play or put the needle down on side A) of Love's Forever Changes. Share your thoughts right here as you listen! Enjoy!

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    Great opening riff. I was hooked the first time I heard it!

    Great opening riff. I was hooked the first time I heard it!

  • Sarah

    Sarah NY

    this already sounds like nothing I've ever heard before. sweet!

    this already sounds like nothing I've ever heard before. sweet!

  • George

    George VT

    Haunting lyrics in many ways. 'Blood mixing with mud turning to grey' was referring to what was taking place right before the eyes of thousands of american troops in the Vietnam War. (from A House Is Not A Motel)

    Haunting lyrics in many ways. 'Blood mixing with mud turning to grey' was referring to what was taking place right before the eyes of thousands of american troops in the Vietnam War. (from A House Is Not A Motel)

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    from the Arthur Lee interview on the Black Beauty cd, he tells a bit about the background of Andmoreagain. He tells of one story where he's really into a chick and then next thing he knows Bryan is downstairs shagging her. And things like that happen again; andmoreagain. My paraphrasing is pretty poor here. Arthur tells it much better...

    from the Arthur Lee interview on the Black Beauty cd, he tells a bit about the background of Andmoreagain. He tells of one story where he's really into a chick and then next thing he knows Bryan is downstairs shagging her. And things like that happen again; andmoreagain. My paraphrasing is pretty poor here. Arthur tells it much better...

  • George

    George VT

    Sounds interesting. I'm interested in checking out that interview. And that album in fact also

    Sounds interesting. I'm interested in checking out that interview. And that album in fact also

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    'The Red Telephone' starting now. Track 6. It's going too fast as usual...

    'The Red Telephone' starting now. Track 6. It's going too fast as usual...

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    I feel like David Angel doesn't get enough credit for his orchestration on this album. I think the strings and horns are really what takes this album to the next level. I'm not sure how much Arthur Lee and Bryan Maclean (on their respective songs) contributed to the orchestration but since David Angel is listed on the album jacket I suspect he was the driving force behind it. I'm curious what the album would be like without the strings and horns. I don't think the messages would be delivered in such a dramatic way, nor would the album sound so unique and unlike anything else ever done. All the different elements coming together on this album are really what make it so superb. Writing, performance, orchestration, album art, all 10's

    I feel like David Angel doesn't get enough credit for his orchestration on this album. I think the strings and horns are really what takes this album to the next level. I'm not sure how much Arthur Lee and Bryan Maclean (on their respective songs) contributed to the orchestration but since David Angel is listed on the album jacket I suspect he was the driving force behind it. I'm curious what the album would be like without the strings and horns. I don't think the messages would be delivered in such a dramatic way, nor would the album sound so unique and unlike anything else ever done. All the different elements coming together on this album are really what make it so superb. Writing, performance, orchestration, album art, all 10's

  • Sarah

    Sarah NY

    That album was kind of amazing. I really never heard anything like it before. how come its not more popular? reading along with the lyrics helped too but i think i will definitely give this one another listen or 10 real soon. there's probably so much more for me to discover with subsequent listens. thanks John for turning me onto to this one :)

    That album was kind of amazing. I really never heard anything like it before. how come its not more popular? reading along with the lyrics helped too but i think i will definitely give this one another listen or 10 real soon. there's probably so much more for me to discover with subsequent listens.
    thanks John for turning me onto to this one smile

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    You're quite welcome Sarah. I think part of the reason the album is not more popular is for the same reason why Love was never more popular in their time (or even today I suppose). They simply didn't tour much outside of LA. The were actually the big dogs on the Sunset Strip before The Doors. I read that Jim Morrison said in the early days that they, The Doors, just wanted to be as big as Love. Obviously they far exceeded that goal. It makes you wonder though how big Love would have been had they toured like The Doors and really promoted themselves. Part of their lack of touring has been chalked up to laziness but some of what I read points to Arthur's distrust of almost everyone, band included. He generally seemed to think people were always looking to take advantage of him, and in many cases he did turn out to be right. One time when they did go to NY to play the band arrived in town before Arthur. When he eventually turned up in NY they told him that the van with all the equipment had been stolen. In fact it turned out that they sold all the gear for drugs. So I guess you really can't blame Arthur too much. A side note to the band's drug use (not including Arthur) was that they didn't even play on a couple of tracks on Forever Changes because they were too strung out on heroin. Arthur replaced them with studio musicians because they simply couldn't get their act together. I believe that was the wake up call they need which got them to straighten out enough to complete the album. Sadly 'Forever Changes' was the last album by that lineup of Love. Anyway, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There's a lot of reading that can be done if you're interested in learning more. And a lot more albums to listen to too! Thanks again Sarah and George for listening in tonight and joining the discussion. And thank you to John T for his earlier comments which preceded our listening. I look forward to us listening to more great music together!

    You're quite welcome Sarah. I think part of the reason the album is not more popular is for the same reason why Love was never more popular in their time (or even today I suppose). They simply didn't tour much outside of LA. The were actually the big dogs on the Sunset Strip before The Doors. I read that Jim Morrison said in the early days that they, The Doors, just wanted to be as big as Love. Obviously they far exceeded that goal. It makes you wonder though how big Love would have been had they toured like The Doors and really promoted themselves. Part of their lack of touring has been chalked up to laziness but some of what I read points to Arthur's distrust of almost everyone, band included. He generally seemed to think people were always looking to take advantage of him, and in many cases he did turn out to be right. One time when they did go to NY to play the band arrived in town before Arthur. When he eventually turned up in NY they told him that the van with all the equipment had been stolen. In fact it turned out that they sold all the gear for drugs. So I guess you really can't blame Arthur too much. A side note to the band's drug use (not including Arthur) was that they didn't even play on a couple of tracks on Forever Changes because they were too strung out on heroin. Arthur replaced them with studio musicians because they simply couldn't get their act together. I believe that was the wake up call they need which got them to straighten out enough to complete the album. Sadly 'Forever Changes' was the last album by that lineup of Love.
    Anyway, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There's a lot of reading that can be done if you're interested in learning more. And a lot more albums to listen to too!
    Thanks again Sarah and George for listening in tonight and joining the discussion. And thank you to John T for his earlier comments which preceded our listening. I look forward to us listening to more great music together!

  • George

    George VT

    Thanks John. Some great info there. Some I knew, some I didn't. Sorry I didn't comment too much tonight but I really got wrapped up in the album. Although I've heard it many times before, this setting really gave me the opportunity to sit down and just listen. Too often I have music on while doing something else, but this was a really nice chance to just sit down and be immersed in this record. I really picked up on things I'd never really heard before like some of the string arrangements and some secondary guitar parts. There's some really nice bass stuff in there too. I look forward to listening again in this forum. Have a good night all

    Thanks John. Some great info there. Some I knew, some I didn't. Sorry I didn't comment too much tonight but I really got wrapped up in the album. Although I've heard it many times before, this setting really gave me the opportunity to sit down and just listen. Too often I have music on while doing something else, but this was a really nice chance to just sit down and be immersed in this record. I really picked up on things I'd never really heard before like some of the string arrangements and some secondary guitar parts. There's some really nice bass stuff in there too. I look forward to listening again in this forum. Have a good night all

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    Thanks for your feedback George. The things you mention are exactly the reasons I created this concept/ event in the first place. Let's get back to real listening, not background listening. And let's enjoy the full work of art we know as the "album". I'm really glad this is coming together so nicely. I hope not to derail this enthusiasm too much, but we will be on hiatus until Wednesday, July 16 (I'll be traveling a couple of Wednesdays from now and will not be able to host). I have not chosen the album yet, but will do so soon and post it on my site. I look forward to listening to another great album together on July 16. Until then...

    Thanks for your feedback George. The things you mention are exactly the reasons I created this concept/ event in the first place. Let's get back to real listening, not background listening. And let's enjoy the full work of art we know as the "album". I'm really glad this is coming together so nicely. I hope not to derail this enthusiasm too much, but we will be on hiatus until Wednesday, July 16 (I'll be traveling a couple of Wednesdays from now and will not be able to host). I have not chosen the album yet, but will do so soon and post it on my site.

    I look forward to listening to another great album together on July 16. Until then...

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