Friday, June 6, 2014

40. Forever Changes (1967) Love


1. Alone Again Or
2. A House Is Not A Motel
3. Andmoreagain
4. The Daily Planet
5. Old Man
6. The Red Telephone
7. Maybe The People Would Be The Times Or Between Clark And Hilldale
8. Live And Let Live
9. The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This
10. Bummer In The Summer
11. You Set The Scene

Love's Forever Changes is apparently better than Dark Side of the Moon which is arrant nonsense. There's no way this is three places greater than Pink Floyd's massive debut. So why is it here?

When Dark Side of the Moon was released it was immediately a massive smash hit which spent over 700 weeks on Billboards album charts which is an incredible achievement. Long after the band had released other albums, Dark Side was still selling in the shops. Forever Changes however spent 10 weeks in the top 200 and only managed to get as far as 154. It was a commercial flop.

At the time nobody cared but decades after its release everyone seems to love it. In addition to Rolling Stone's decision to include it on this list at number 40, it,s apparently the 6th greatest album of all time according to NME magazine and the second greatest psychedelic album according to Mojo.

Clearly it's cool to love Forever Changes but does it really deserve all the accolades it receives? Is it as good as everyone thinks it is?

I'd say no. It's an okay album and certainly not a screaming dud but as a set of songs its not as strong as a lot of other albums on this list. The opening two tracks are catchy and enjoyable and the closing two are interesting but the middle of the album really drops in quality. It's well produced and extravagant but they're not exactly songs that make you stand up and pay attention. They sound like they're taking up space a bit and just filling up vinyl. Would the Beatles, Yardbirds, Stones, Who, Cream or Hendrix Experieince have included them on their albums? I'd say the answer is no, they'd record a version but discard them in favour of something better.

So why is this so well regarded? Whose loving Love?

I think a big part of it is the fact that people can enjoy it while appreciating something that still has an air of mystique attached. Love doesn't get much radio play and their music isn't included in compilations or used on soundtracks for movies, TV shows or commercials. Mention them to most people and they've never heard their music. Even if you sung them a tune they wouldn't light up in recognition. They're still an obscure underground hit despite their presence on lists like this. They can appear in between the Sex Pistols and The Beatles and still have people scratching their heads when they see their name. People love being part of a secret and Love is this list's best kept secret.

Which is not to say that there isn't some merit. Please don't go thinking that this is all a case of Emperor's New Clothes. There is a genuine attraction to Forever Changes but I think it's more to do with mood than songwriting. Arthur Lee's gentle vocals, combined with the band's trippy ethos and the orchestral overdubbing serves to create a perfect atmosphere which says "psychedelic 1967" like few other albums can. It perfectly captures the hippie mood and ideology of the time. It's not so much about tunes you can whistle as a mood you can experience. If you feel nostalgic for the Summer of Love (whether you were there or not) then Forever Changes works as the soundtrack to that heady time and evokes the sun-drenched hopefulness of the era. It's enticing to a lot of people, especially backed by its aura of shared secret treasure.

It's definitely not better than Dark Side of the Moon though.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "This album sounds like generic 60s oldies that you hear every time you go to the dentist or when your aunt is driving."

-Where is this person from? What country has dentists that play this sort of music?

So do you love this? Let me know below

3 comments:

  1. When you posit one thing as being way better than another, the impulse for anyone who disagrees is to go the opposite direction -- in this case, for me to say, no, no, Dark Side is completely inferior to Forever Changes. It's the way of Internet arguments, as you know. Truth is, I like Dark Side and always have, and there's no reason to compare the two at all, except when you're comparing them in terms of sales, but that doesn't really speak for artistic merit. I'll tell you this, though. I've bought precisely one copy of Dark Side; actually, come to think of it, someone bought it for me. Do I listen to it? Sure, but not anywhere nearly as much as Forever Changes.

    I once took a long car trip with my daughter. We were looking for something to play on the stereo, and one of us said "Any time is a good time for Forever Changes."

    I've bought at least three copies of Forever Changes, and I listen to it fairly regularly. First the vinyl -- had to special order back in the day, early 1980s, and I just played it non-stop. Then I bought the CD. Then I bought one for a gift to someone. Seems like there was another purchase in there somewhere. A few years ago, I downloaded the whole Love catalogue. I've supported the Love industry far more than I have Pink Floyd.

    Forever Changes is unique. It's one of those records that could have only been made at a certain time -- the Summer of Love -- and, unlike a number of psychedelic records from the period, doesn't sound like anything else. At all. Many, many other records sound like they were made under the influence of psychedelic drugs, but none sounds like Forever Changes, unless they're imitating it. The great thing about it is that Arthur Lee took his (and Bryan McLean's) very bizarre, crazy, warped trippy lyrics and married them to these incredibly lush, beautiful arrangements that seemed to have more to do with a movie soundtrack or easy listening than rock and roll -- and the result was just brilliant. It's a key album in my life -- and whenever I meet someone who is in love with it, who is passionate about it, well, I know I've made a friend for life. A secret society? Perhaps, but it's one with a lot of members. Robert Plant has said many times that it's one of his favorite albums; keep that in mind next time you listen to Led Zeppelin III or IV. ("The Battle of Evermore" especially seems to have a kind of Forever Changes, and it may have creeped into "Stairway to Heaven" as well.) But Love was always too out there to ever be mainstream.

    I wrote an article about the album some years ago. My feelings haven't changed:

    http://www.scpronet.com/point/9608/p10.html

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Rodeny. That's an excellent defence of an album and the perfect counterpoint to my own views. I'll edit a link to your article into the main body of the blog if that's okay with you because it's a great read.

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    2. enjoyed this album when we did ït was 40 years ago". Very much a product of its time, which to makes is not so bad....man. hey pass me that joint.....man.

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