Saturday, January 6, 2018

Today in Music (1968): Love’s Forever Changes charted

Forever Changes


Released: November 1967

Charted: January 6, 1968

Peak: 154 US, 24 UK

Sales (in millions): --

Genre: psychedelic rock


(Click for codes to charts.)
  1. Alone Again Or (Bryan MacLean) [3:15] (1/68, #99 US, #96 HR)
  2. A House Is Not a Motel [3:25]
  3. Andmoreagain [3:15]
  4. The Daily Planet [3:25] (3/68)
  5. Old Man (Bryan MacLean) [2:57]
  6. The Red Telephone [4:45]
  7. Maybe the People Would Be the Times or Between Clark and Hilldale [3:30]
  8. Live and Let Live [5:24]
  9. The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This [3:00]
  10. Bummer in the Summer [2:20]
  11. You Set the Scene [6:49]
All songs written by Arthur Lee unless noted otherwise.

Total Running Time: 42:05

The Players:

  • Arthur Lee (vocals, guitar)
  • Bryan MacLean (rhythm guitar, vocals)
  • Johnny Echols (guitar)
  • Ken Forssi (bass)
  • Michael Stuart-Ware (drums/percussion)


4.636 out of 5.00 (average of 19 ratings)

Quotable: “A stunning achievement in majestic folk rock” – USA Today


(Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“Of the many lost classics produced during the creative explosion of the late ‘60s psychedelic heyday, the greatest may be the third album by the Los Angeles-based group Love.” JD It wasn’t a hit, but its regular appearance on critics’ best-of lists gave it “an enormously far-reaching and durable influence that went way beyond chart listings.” AMG It is “a stunning achievement in majestic folk-rock by Arthur Lee’s underacknowledged cult band.” UT

As “one of rock’s most organic, flowing masterpieces” AMG Forever Changes is “the best fusion of folk-rock and psychedelia.” AMG “Love…displayed a heaping dose of the Beatles circa Rubber Soul, folk-rock via L.A. compatriots the Byrds, …and the lush, orchestrated soundscapes of Hollywood film scores.” JD

“Love, perhaps more than any band of the time, called bedrock meanings and recognizable identities into question.” AH-50 Writer Andrew Hutlkrans called them “the first racially integrated-psychedelic band.” AH-69 Critic Ben Edmonds wrote, “While the music of Forever Changes flows with an almost narcotic consistency and deceptive prettiness, the words can be like an itch that you can never quite put your finger on…The combination is thoroughly captivating and slightly unsettling – psychedelic in the truest sense.’” JD

Andrew Sandoval, who oversaw the remaster of the first four Love albums said, “You’ve got song structures that are not like any other songs. They’re not verse-chorus songs, they’ve got stream-of-consciousness lyrics, orchestral interludes that are more like Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass than the heavier ones on Sgt. Pepper and Pet Sounds. It took me forever to understand the album. THe songs were not hummable, but they wer so melodic.” AH-51

“Every song has a lingering, shimmering beauty” AMG which “features Lee’s trembling vocals, beautiful melodies, haunting orchestral arrangements, and inscrutable but poetic lyrics, all of which sound nearly as fresh and intriguing upon repeated plays.” AMG

Arthur Lee:

Lee, the band’s chief singer and songwriter, was “strongly influenced by Mick Jagger; he presented what pioneering rock critic Lillian Roxon called ‘an amusing paradox,’ an African-American singing like a white Englishman singing like an old African-American.” JD He “was raised in L.A.’s tough Crenshaw ghetto” JD and “never subscribed to the flower children’s sunny visions.” JD

Upon the making of this album “his band neared dissolution, critics said they should have been called Hate, drugs flowed through his body, the hippie dream was crashing, and he was convinced he was going to die.” RV “The world that he chronicled was no utopia, but a dark and sinister place where the occasional ray of light nonetheless managed to penetrate the gloom.” JD He “turned his demons into one of the defining masterpiece of 1967.” RV

Jimmy Greenspoon of Three Dog Night said, “Lee cut quite an imposing figure…Dark glasses, a scarf around his neck, Edwardian shirts and – what was to become his trademark – an old pair of army boots with one unlaced…He was a Pied Piper who would lead [audiences] down the road to a different form of consciousness.” AH-47

Bryan MacLean:

“In contrast, Lee’s partner Bryan MacLean was the son of a Hollywood architect who grew up swimming in his neighbor Elizabeth Taylor’s pool. His first girlfriend was Liza Minnelli, and he was raised on classical music and Broadway standards.” JD “Lee originally linked up with MacLean because MacLean was a Byrds roadie and Lee thought he was likely to draw their crowd.” JD

The Recording:

“The group recorded acoustically, sitting in a circle as if jamming in the living room. The tracks were augmented later with tasteful orchestrations evoking the varied sounds of life in L.A., from spicy mariachi horns to lulling strings to dissonant guitars that bring to mind the strangling and ever-present traffic.” JD

The Cover:

“The front cover, a distinctly psychedelic but surprisingly timeless painting on a white background by artist/illustrator Bob Pepper, is masterfully iconic, but unquestionably eerie. A mult-hued fusing of the heads of the band members vaguely resembles the shape of the African continent, the image suggests…some five-headed mutation from a David Cronenberg film.” AH-96

“Alone Again”

The album’s most celebrated song, Alone Again Or, “is a tribute to [MacLean’s] mother’s flamenco dancing, punctuated by a trumpet solo that brings to mind the Tijuana Brass (producer Bruce Botnick was also working with Herb Alpert at the time). At first blush, the driving and catchy number seems to be a love song, but the narrator scoffs at the hippie notion that he ‘could be in love with almost everyone.’” JD The “unconventional use of horns, strings and guitars manage to engulf the psychedelic experience of the ‘60s, while laying the groundwork for punk.” RV

Even though it isn’t written by Lee, it “neatly sets up the theme of self-imposed isolation that persists throughout the record. In fact, the song could be heard as an instance of Bryan taking on Arthur’s point-of-view, as the latter muses alone on his hilltop about more social souls like Byran himself.” AH-65

“A House Is Not a Motel”

“The propulsive A House Is Not a Motel contemplates an unspecified holocaust.” JD It “says goodbye to naïveté with ferocity even as Mariachi guitars strum in the background.” RV

“On its surface, the title is a facile but odd pun on Bacharach/David’s ‘A House Is Not a Home’ (Arthur had misused Bacharach to great effect on Love’s first single ‘My Little Red Book,’ so the dig had precedence.” AH-36 “But in light of Arthur’s experience of living communally…where he had to step over prostrate bodies on his way to a midnight snack, the title also suggests a loner’s irritation with a house full of overnight crashers and mooching hipsters.” AH-36

One could also interpret the house as “the House of God…and the motel…is what American has become.” AH-37 To that end, “Arthur is playing God, and he’s here to clean house.” AH-37


Arthur hinted that this song was “a creature, one of the people he saw from his Sunset Boulevard apartment. Given that the Strip was notorious for its drugged-out hippies and junkies at the time, this ‘creature’ Arthur saw out his window, probably late at night, could be seen as representing addiction, yet another physical trap…laid for human beings to keep them tethered to the material world.” AH-83

“The Daily Planet”

“Arthur rather sarcastically takes us on a guided tour of the treadmill of banality that is everyday LA existence.” AH-56 “During the last revolutions…Arhtur feels that time is indeed running out and that a ‘scorching god’ will soon consume the earth.” AH-58

“The Red Telephone”

This is the album’s “most striking studio creation.” JD It “builds from a quiet ballad to an otherworldly and somewhat paranoid nursery rhyme about an Orwellian world where unnamed forces stamp out any trace of individualism.” JD In essence, “freedom is diminished into a sad joke.” RV The title is taken from the alleged nuclear hotline between Moscow and Washington, D.C. JD

The liner notes of a Love bootleg, Castle Walls, says, “This disturbing track manages to suggest its paranoia just through the phraising. The staccato way of highlighting words has a strange, chanting, almost occult effect. It’s been described as a kind of nursery-rhyme rap.” AH-54

“Live and Let Live”

Lee “lampoons the psychedelic culture by chronicling its ugly realities (Live and Let Live opens with the line, ‘Oh, the snot has caked against my pants,’ which Lee wrote about waking up after a night zonked out on drugs).” JD

Arthur “rages against those who impose false religious strictures…on humanity, knowing that that they are merely part of the…conspiracy to enslave man.” AH-84

“You Set the Scene”

“From the title on down, [this] is a veritable existentialist manifesto, culminating in perhaps the only positive statement of purpose on record weighted heavily toward the angsty end of the existentialist spectrum. Remember that these words come from a man who believed he was about to die.” AH-67


“The 2001 expanded reissue on Rhino adds seven bonus tracks: the 1968 single ‘Your Mind and We Belong Together’/‘Laughing Stock,’ the genuine Forever Changes outtake ‘Wonder People (I Do Wonder),’ the demo ‘Hummingbirds’ (essentially an instrumental version of ‘The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This’), and alternate mixes of ‘Alone Again Or’ and ‘You Set the Scene.’” AMG In 2005, a live version of the album was released.

Review Sources:

  • AMG All Music Guide review by Richie Unterberger
  • AH Andrew Hultkrans (2003). 33 1/3: Forever Changes. Bloomsbury Publishing Inc.: New York, NY.
  • JD Jim DeRogatis (6/1/2003). “The Great Albums
  • RV The Review “100 Greatest Albums of All Time” by Clarke Speicher (October – November 2001; Vol. 128: numbers 12-23).
  • UT USA Today (12/5/2003). “Top 40 Albums – the USA Today Way

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First posted 11/29/2013; last updated 2/19/2024.

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