Love: Forever Changes

Inside the National Recording Registry

Friday, November 30, 2012

Album cover for Love's Forever Changes (Elektra Records)

The year 1967 saw the release of two psychedelic pop masterpieces — one globally famous (the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper), the other nearly forgotten: Forever Changes, by Love. Sometimes referred to as Arthur Lee’s Love, it was one of the first mixed-race bands — “still to this day, you don’t see many bands like that,” notes Maria McKee, the younger sister of Love member Bryan McLean. “If we had been an all-black group,” recalls guitarist Johnny Echols, “we would have been typecast as a blues group or an R&B group, and we didn’t want that.”

Like Sgt. Pepper, Forever Changes was an eclectic record that mixed different '60s elements with symphonic ambitions, including fully orchestrated horn and string sections. McLean and Arthur Lee — both dead now — wrote and sang lead, McLean bringing the folk-rock influence he had acquired as a road manager for The Byrds. But Forever Changes made little impression at the time. Its undercurrent of darkness and paranoia may not have suited the Summer of Love, and it was certainly overshadowed by the Beatles’ great watershed.

But it was in Britain that Forever Changes found its audience, as Maria McKee saw firsthand many years later. “When I was in my band [1980s country rock group] Lone Justice and we performed the first time in London, that was pretty much all anybody wanted to talk about — Love.”  As a new generation of American musicians and fans of ‘freak folk’ has rediscovered the lesser-known 1960s, Forever Changes’ reputation continues to rise.

The record was selected for the National Recording Registry in 2012. Telling its story are Johnny Echols, Maria McKee, and the record’s producer, Bruce Botnick.

    Music Playlist
  1. Alone Again Or
    Artist: Love
    Album: Forever Changes
    Label: Rhino/Elektra
    Purchase: Amazon
  2. You Set the Scene
    Artist: Love
    Album: Forever Changes
    Label: Rhino/Elektra
    Purchase: Amazon
  3. Turn! Turn! Turn!
    Artist: The Byrds
    Album: The Byrds
    Label: Legacy/Columbia
    Purchase: Amazon
  4. Old Man
    Artist: Love
    Album: Forever Changes
    Label: Rhino/Elektra
    Purchase: Amazon
  5. A House Is Not a Motel
    Artist: Love
    Album: Forever Changes
    Label: Rhino/Elektra
    Purchase: Amazon
  6. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
    Artist: The Beatles
    Album: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    Label: EMI
    Purchase: Amazon

Contributors:

Ben Manilla and Devon Strolovitch

Comments [7]

Don Faruolo from New Jersey

A masterpiece! Along with Sgt. Pepper's and Pet Sounds, this is one of THE greatest albums ever made. I bought this LP off the racks in November, 1967. I was 14 going on 24. By the time I was 15, I was already learning the songs on my guitar and playing them in bands. In 2004, I sat in drummer Michael Stuart-Ware's living room playing along with him to EVERY cut on the LP. This album should be a part of everyone's world.

Oct. 21 2014 09:15 PM
mike

A friend of mine got me into this album when I was in high school, circa 1990. I loved it the first time I heard it and still do. "The news today will be the movies for tomorrow".

Dec. 03 2012 02:32 PM
Don Petersen

"Forever Changes" is a great LP. Love's refusal to tour to support the LP did not help sales though. Surveys in the U.K. show increasing appreciation for "Forever Changes". Love hardly sounds like a group on the verge of breaking up but they were. These surveys also show an increasing appreciation for "Odessy & Oracle" --- recorded by the Zombies immediately after The Beatles completed Sgt. Peppers but delayed in production. (It didn't help O&O's sales that the Zombies disbanded and Date Records folded.) Both LP's/CD's are highly recommended.

Dec. 03 2012 01:47 PM
John Huth from Boston

Wait....I loved this album, from when I was kid. The song Red Telephone made its way into the movie Taking Woodstock.

Dec. 02 2012 06:38 PM
dennis from nyc

Great Stuff. Love's Early Work With Elektra Records Was Outstanding. Partly Their Own Doing, Love Never Had The Success They Deserved.Their Ability To Influence Musicians Today And Attract New Fans Is A Testament To How Good These Guys Were.

Dec. 02 2012 03:58 PM
mjbarr from murfreesboro, tn

A great and under appreciated album.

One comment regarding their being first multi racial band.

Booker T and the MGs had. Green Onions in 1962

Like them, Arthur Lee also had Memphis roots.

Dec. 02 2012 12:04 PM
Phil Stewart

Wow. Great segment on Love! I remember when it was only record hounds who knew about that record, and one of 'em played a cut off of it as his sign-off song on KDIC Grinnell, late at night some time in the early '80s. I was recording the show on a cassette, so later I was able to recover the name of the song, "A House is Not a Motel," and track the record down.

It has to be a very different experience coming to sixties culture a generation removed from it, than to have lived through the period. Listening to this music, I'm reminded of reading a reprint of Richard Brautigan's "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace," and knowing nothing more of its context of creation than the peculiar smell of mimeographs, the medium it was first distributed in.

One of the fundamental symmetries of the universe is invariance over (spatial) translation, though. Recently a Grinnell grad posted a montage of a telecined Super 8 mm film shot at a campus-wide party, using "Alone Again Or" by Love for the music, and somehow, totally out of place and time--it completely fit.

Dec. 01 2012 04:24 PM

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