Monday, February 21, 2011

16. Love - Forever Changes (1967)

45 years, 45 LPs, 45 days...
Forever Changes (1967)
I bought my first copy of this album in the 90's after reading about it in MOJO magazine's 100 Greatest Albums of All Time issue (Forever Changes was #11). I didn't warm up to the album very easily, and after a couple of listens it got filed away.

Fast forward to summer of 1997.  I was packing for a trip to Duluth one weekend and grabbed a handful of tapes for the car, including (from what I remember) Notorious Byrd Brothers and Forever Changes.  It was on that trip, driving North on 35W, when I finally connected with this complex and magnificent album.

Summer 1997 on the North Shore
1997 isn't a year that I remember fondly. I was only a few months out of graduate school, working a job for which I was overqualified and slowly learning to hate.  By summer '97 I'd been clobbered pretty hard by a round of shingles followed by a nasty depression. This was not your standard every day run-of-the-mill depression - this was some dark shit (my own "Bummer in the Summer", to cite one of the songs on this album) . My sour state of mind at the time, I think, is probably what made Forever Changes resonate the way it did - it is not the rosiest of albums. In spite of its ominous tones, Forever Changes as a whole is undeniably beautiful.

Similar to another masterpiece from this period, The Zombies' Odessey and Oracle (1968), Forever Changes would not receive its proper acclaim until after the band had split up. Without the benefit of a hit single the album stalled on the Top 200 album chart at a painful #154 (Odessey and Oracle, on the other hand, enjoyed a huge unexpected hit with "Time of the Season"). Although The Zombies had moved onto other projects by 1968, Arthur Lee continued with Love into the 1970's, but without any of the band's original members.
1997: "Bummer in the Summer"
In 2004 Love and the Zombies actually teamed up for a tour, stopping for a show in Minneapolis on 7.10.2004 that my brother and I attended.  By this time Johnny Echols had rejoined Love, which was  very exciting to experience live. The Lee/Echols reunion was sadly short-lived, as Arthur's battle with leukemia soon made live performances challenging for his band.  He passed away in 2006.

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