Saturday, January 6, 2018

Love’s Forever Changes charted 50 years ago today (1/6/1968)

First posted 11/29/2013; updated 12/31/2019.

Forever Changes


Buy Here:

Released: November 1967

Charted: January 6, 1968

Peak: 154 US, 24 UK

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US and UK)

Genre: psychedelic rock

Tracks: (Click for codes to singles 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


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

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

“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 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

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 “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

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

The Red Telephone 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

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)…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


“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.

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