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Living To Music – Love ‘Forever Changes’

ARTIST: LOVE

ALBUM: FOREVER CHANGES

LABEL: ELEKTRA

YEAR: 1967

This Sunday (May 1st), at 9pm, you’re invited to share a listening session with some likeminded souls, wherever you might be. This can be experienced either alone or communally, and you don’t need to leave the comfort of your own home to participate. Full lowdown here:
http://blog.gregwilson.co.uk/2010/06/living-to-music/

Described as ‘one of the first racially diverse American pop bands’, Love, led by Memphis born ‘black hippie’, Arthur Lee, broke the mould. Hailing from Los Angeles, the band issued their self-titled debut album in 1966, following up with ‘De Capo’ in early ’67, before releasing the LP they’re best remembered for, ‘Forever Changes’ towards the end of the same year.

Major commercial success eluded the band, their highest chart placings being in the UK rather than their US homeland  – ‘Forever Changes’ reaching number 24, with ‘Out Here’, a 1969 release, peaking at number 29. However, their cult status has endured and ‘Forever Changes’ regularly appears on best all-time album lists, most notably NME, who placed it at number 6, Rolling Stone, where it came in at number 40, and Mojo, where it was number 11 in the main list, whilst being named the second best psychedelic album ever.

‘Forever Changes’ was recorded on the West Coast at the height of the psychedelic era – in Hollywood’s legendary Sunset Sound Recorders during the fabled ’67 Summer Of Love, when California was firmly positioned at the centre of the cultural universe.

One of the main plusses of the Living To Music sessions is that they’ve enabled many of the participants to listen to recordings they’ve never previously heard. So, with this in mind, I thought it only right that rather than just selecting albums I already know and love, I should from time to time provide myself with the opportunity to pick something I’ve personally intended to listen to, but never got around to. I’m somewhat ashamed to say that ‘Forever Changes’ falls into this category for me, having, to date, eluded my ears in its entirety. I thought it was high time I put this right.

Your own memories are always welcomed, and, should you join us for Sunday’s session, it’d be great if you could leave a comment here after you’ve listened to the album sharing your impressions – how the music affected you, who you listened to it with, where you were, plus anything else relevant to your own individual / collective experience.

Forever Changes Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forever_Changes

Living To Music Facebook Event Page:
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=142015679202086

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18 Responses to Living To Music – Love ‘Forever Changes’

  1. Cathal O'Rourke April 26, 2011 at 9:58 pm #

    Greg,

    Never heard of this band until I just read your blog post.

    Gonna give this a whirl on sunday, will invite a few friends and see how it goes !

    Big respect from Dublin !

    Cathal

  2. greg wilson April 26, 2011 at 11:51 pm #

    Nice one Cathal – just the spirit.

    Hope to see you in Dublin in a few weeks.

    Greg

  3. Bryan Hague May 1, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

    Hi Greg,

    Love the “Living To Music” concept. I wasn’t really sure what the plan was so had to hurriedly do some Youtube mixing to get the required album format. I’ve looked at the cover of this album for about 15 years without cheking it out, so it was a great excuse to go for it tonight. Great album. Thanks.

    Bryan

  4. Paul Wright May 2, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    This album is a big favourite of mine. Love the acoustic and orchestral arrangements.

    I first saw Love with Arthur Lee in Manchester academy about ten years ago. I was amazed that I actually knew most of the songs played. My dad had played forever changes a lot when I was a kid, I hadn’t realised it was them. Being a big fan of sixties music I instantly connected with it. I was very impressed by the quality of the live performance.

    I went on to see them again at glastonbury and a mushroom fueled session at an Irish club in Leeds (bonkers night!).

    I bought this album about ten years ago and listen to it frequently. It is one that I tend to listen to from beginning to end each time so it felt natural for living to music. Many of my friends love this album too.

    Overall a great listening experience, a definite classic for me.

    All the best
    Paul

  5. greg wilson May 3, 2011 at 5:06 am #

    I knew I wouldn’t be home for this, I was flying back to Manchester from Italy late Sunday afternoon then driving to Birmingham that night, so the plan was to park up in a service station and listen to it there – didn’t quite work out that way though.

    It was quite a trying weekend for one reason and another, bookended by a delay to my outbound flight on the Saturday morning, which meant I missed my connection and had to get a later flight (which meant I had to go straight to the gig from the airport, rather than catch up on some much needed sleep beforehand), and, after I’d got back to Manchester the following day and collected my car, puncturing a tyre no sooner had I drove onto the M6 on my way to Birmingham. The delay meant that I had to blow out my intention to park up and, instead, I ended up playing it whilst I was driving – this being the only option available to me.

    As it turned out, I listened to the entire album again, twice, on my drive back home after the gig. It was good to finally familiarise myself with it and, as with any album, after a few plays you begin to pick up on the various nuances, especially with regards to the word imagery.

    It’s very different to the other West Coast music of the period (Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, The Doors etc), and seemed more akin to what was happening in England rather than the US – the fact that it was more commercially successful in this country makes perfect sense.

    Musically the guitar work is obviously to the fore, but I was also struck by the drumming, which it turns out was courtesy of the great LA session drummer Hal Blaine (of Wrecking Crew fame, see ‘A Christmas Gift for You’ post: http://blog.gregwilson.co.uk/2010/12/a-christmas-gift-for-you – it also seems that fellow Wrecking Crew member, the equally legendary Carole Kaye, was the bassist). I thought the overall production was strong, with the string and brass parts innovative and very effective. They certainly had some fine musicians at their disposal, and it was a well produced recording. The tracks that initially stand out for me are ‘The Red Telephone’, ‘Maybe The People…’, ‘You Get The Scene’ and, of course, ‘Alone Again’.

    Thanks to those who suggested ‘Forever Changes’, and to Living To Music for introducing it to my ears – good to finally put a face to the name, so to speak.

  6. Dan Soulsmith May 3, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

    Listened to this twice in a row at a BBQ with friends. It would have been difficult to apply the L2M listening guidelines, as there was a lot of socialising going on, so I didn’t bother trying to enforce them. Someone kept turning the volume down – so I put it on again. The album went down well.

    For me it’s all about the first track… such flavour. The other tunes are good but they don’t have the same impact as ‘Alone Again Or’. I love the album as a whole, but think it might have been better had the order of tracks been different? I also thought this when I first heard it 14 years ago.

    I particularly like the strings throughout.

    It was nice to listen to Forever Changes again after so long. Thanks!

  7. BrianE May 3, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    Interesting blast from the past even though I had never heard it. Interested to read Greg’s comment about who the drummer was. Hal Blaine who was a very busy guy in that time playing on all sorts of gold records etc. I even noticed a ‘bossa nove clave’ on track 4 or 5. If you don’t know what that is just ask Che!

    The production and arrangements are great and everything so well thought out. never a dull moment in fact. Thought there was a bit of a latin influence on track one which I liked. Made me think of the BBC4 programme on the influence of Latin music in pop/rock.

    See ya next month.

  8. Ed May 3, 2011 at 5:55 pm #

    Been away in New York and never heard of this album before, let alone listened to it, whereas all the others so far have been favourites of mine. Will look forward to listening to it.

    Greg, apologies for being slightly off topic, don’t know if you’ve heard of Hush Tours in NYC, they do a fantastic tour of the early sights of hip hop, Spanish Harlem, the South Bronx, Kool Herc’s block where he did the first ever ‘Block party’. If you have time to kill next time you are over there I’d definitely recommend it. Kurtis Blow and Grandmaster Cassanova (from the Rapper’s Delight verse ‘I’m the C-A-S…’ although there’s quite a story attached to why he never appeared on the record but his rap did!) are two of the tour guides.

  9. Phillipa Sillitoe May 3, 2011 at 8:58 pm #

    Hi Greg:-) well it was quite a revelation to me listening to Forever Changes in it’s entirety ..i kept a few trax on my pc but had been many many years…forgotten how ‘English’ it sounds. Parts i think definitely influenced by Sergeant Pepper…..just lovin this concept and lookin forward so much to the next session.

  10. Alexis May 4, 2011 at 9:41 am #

    Well, i met friends over the weekend who knew immediately this was Arthur May and had also seen him before he passed. I, had not a scooby!
    I also couldn’t listen to it without distraction (due to some great friends and a drunken weekend) however, i was listening to it again this morning and it does sound quintessentially British, weird right?
    I was struck by tracks 3 and 5. 3 cos I love the line ” my heart goes bum bum” and the melody and the strings on track 5 are a delicious surprise!
    All in all, great to hear something new that isn’t!
    Keep em coming x

  11. cezza May 6, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    Liked this album and it was made all the more authentic by sitting next to a lovely woman who remembered it very well back in the days, which contributed to the authenticity…! Often I actually enjoy the albums alot more when I play them in the days after in my own space, maybe the pressure is off? maybe I like to listen to the sound as a ‘whole’ whilst im just hanging out? Thought the production was fantastic, and I tried to put myself in a position back in the days where it was brand new, First track has to be my favourite and it was a ‘ahhhhh’ moment as I knew it well… great again to be introduced to another new album…

  12. cezza May 6, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    the snot has cacked against my pants? it has turned into chrystal….nice

  13. Ruth May 6, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    Absolutly love this album… lots of fab memories… saw them a few times, even better live!! Arthur Lee you were a genius!!

  14. TC May 11, 2011 at 6:48 am #

    I had no idea what to expect from this album nor of any background behind this album before the first listen and afterwards was really surprised that they were American as the sound is so English. More akin to early Pink Floyd than Jefferson Airplane. It’s a slice of the times from which it came. Definitely a period piece for me that could not have been recorded/ created any other time than 1967/68, although I heard the album again with Greg in the car when he returned from his hellish journey and he remarked that he could hear how bands like Teardrop Explodes could have been influenced by this album. He’s absolutely right! Very interesting experience to hear something completely new to my ears in Living to Music fashion and it had an impact on the way I’ve heard it on subsequent listens. Good stuff!

  15. dancing james May 11, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    That was an inevitable joyous surprise. Given the pleasure form everything else I have listened to in the series I could relax with open and trusting ears.

    Instantly I was transported to the sixties, the open production, simple use of stereo. There is such a psychedelic nature to the album, the guitars frequently have that acidic distortion. Its always amazing how people on different sides of the world seem to come to similar cultural progressions and this does seem to match the playfulness of Syd era Pink Floyd.

    I can see this will be used at barbecues and may well soundtrack my summer, it has such a beautiful pastoral organic feeling. Greg, thank you so much for furthering my musical education.

  16. Will Lewis May 26, 2011 at 1:20 am #

    I first bought this album when I was about 16, about 6 years ago, I think after seeing it on a channel 4 top 100 albums programme and also because of a recommendation from friends older brother who has great music taste and probably inspired my taste quite a lot.

    For me this whole album is a brilliant piece of work, I don’t think I’ve ever listened to it in the company of others and kind of holds a place in my memory of being in school, although I can’t connect it to any particular event. It’s something I save for when I have a bit of free time and can listen to it lying on my bed from start to finish, which I only do with a couple of other albums regularly, such as Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush. The copy I have is a re-released extended edition, which has a few alternate mixes and outtakes, which I find interesting at least.

    The second section of the song You Set the Scene is one of my favourite pieces of music. I just love it.

  17. Lou Lou May 29, 2011 at 12:36 am #

    For the first time, i experienced an LTM session on my own, stretched out on the couch at home, but found that I missed the company of other people around me
    .
    I felt I recognised the first track and wholly enjoyed the “psychedelic” feelings that were conjured up as the light was fading outside. The first track transported me to what I imagined the summer of love in san fran to be like. In contrast to the other comments here, it did feel american to me.

    The fourth and fifth tracks had me feeling quite down and dark. Maybe due to being alone and freaking myself out with imaginary sounds, I was unable to relax but luckily it picked up again with the boom of the bass leading throughout.

    Overall, a most groovy experience. Thanks for a totally new album to my ears. I won’t be LTMing on my own again though. I much prefer the shared environment experience and the conversations afterwards.

    Looking forward to Bob Marley’s Exodus 🙂

  18. Jeffro March 7, 2015 at 7:47 pm #

    Hi Greg, I just found my way here because it’s Arthur Lee’s birthday and I was looking up Forever Changes stuff. And I just wanted to clear up one misconception.

    Hal Blaine and the Wrecking Crew appear on ONLY ONE SONG on the album. When sessions began, the band was strung out on drugs and out of practice, so the producer (with Arthur’s approval) called in session pros to show ’em up. They recorded one song, “The Daily Planet”, while the band members looked on with tears in their eyes. Then the band members went home, cleaned up, got their shit together, and returned to the studio to record all the rest of this wonderful album. Glad you finally got to hear it, I hope it has remained a favorite in the years since this post!

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