Love - Forever Changes
Arthur Lee - Vocals, Guitar
John Echols - Lead Guitar
Bryan Maclean - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Michael Stuart - Drums, Percussion
40th in Rolling Stone's Top 500 Albums Of All Time.
The text on this album's slip says it all, really.
"1967. Nothing caught the strangeness of these days, or captured the combination of beauty and dread they contained, quite like Love's masterpiece Forever Changes."
Let's be honest - a lot of stuff that record labels slap on albums to sell them is utter guff. But I can't think of a better way to encapsulate this album than this. It's one of those rare albums that captures its time perfectly, and somehow becomes timeless. Masterpiece? You betcha.
The best thing about this album is the constant sense of ill-ease. Throughout, the music is quite fast-paced, upbeat, and full of life. But there's always something just under the surface, letting you know that something is just plain wrong. It's like a secret burning a hole in you, but you're too afraid to tell anyone. Or like a group of people just getting on with their lives, ignoring all the evil around them. Perhaps it's this that makes it the ultimate hippy album.
The music is based in folk, but is utterly technicolour. The brass arrangements, the lead guitar breaks, the vocals - everything is teeming with life. Folk is often boring to those who don't listen to it much, but I defy ANYONE to listen to this and get bored. I can't tell you how much energy this record has. It works as a great pick-me-up, especially as it achieves lift-off towards the end. Think of it this way - The Who had Pete Townshend AND Keith Moon, and Love STILL rival them.
The best known album that I could compare it to is Pink Floyd's Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. However, there are key differences. Whereas the lyrics to the two are superficially similar, PF's come across as quite childish and unskilled. Love's, however....don't. I can't quite explain why. It just boils down to the impression you get from listening to it. Love's element of psychedelica is also a much more active one. If I knew enough about drugs, I'd use a metaphor here. Let's just say that Pink Floyd encourage you to sit down and get all spaced out, whereas Love would make you get up and **** well do something, to enjoy that state of uneasy euphoria while it lasts. Consequently, it has aged much better.
A more recent album to compare this to might be Neutral Milk Hotel's In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, in the both of them are practically unclassifiable, and both are cult albums with feverishly loyal followings. What's more, the liners to this album are excellent - the icing on the cake.
Picking faults with this album is an exercise in being anal; however, it's possible. The album appears to 'dip' in the middle - when you're done listening to it, the first three and last three tracks are the ones that stick out in the memory. Plus the album lacks one truly standout moment that defines it - or one standout song (Alone Again Or comes close though). Then again, most people complain when one song dominates the rest of the album, so is that really a fault? Oh, and the out-takes don't really add much, but that really is nitpicking.
Maybe I can describe this album best to you by telling you that this is my favourite album to listen to when I'm playing GTA: Vice City. Get it. Now.