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Forever? Changes?
October 24, 2008 4:44 PM   Subscribe

Love Story: the 2006 documentary about the obscure, semi-legendary 60s L.A. psychedelic band Love, and its leader Arthur Lee. One week only on Pitchfork.TV previously 2001 and 2006

More songs:
My Little Red Book, 1960s
Message to Pretty, 1966
Fillmore, 1970
Everybody's Gotta Live, 1990
Somebody's Watching You, 1990
7 and 7 Is, Glastonbury 2003
Alone Again Or, Glastonbury 2003

Also good: Robyn Hitchcock's song "The Wreck of the Arthur Lee" (1993). Couldn't find it on the tubes though.
posted by msalt (38 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh hell yes. I recently caught the "Forever Changes Concert" DVD and the guy most certainly still had it, all that time later.
posted by arcanecrowbar at 4:58 PM on October 24, 2008


Stephanie Knows Who, 1967
She Comes In Colors, Leeds, 2005
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:20 PM on October 24, 2008


Oh, cool. I really like that I Will Always See Your Face song (first heard it on the High Fidelty soundtrack a long while back), but I don't know anything else about the band. This post will be fun to dig into.
posted by painquale at 5:28 PM on October 24, 2008


Don't forget A House is Not a Motel.
posted by grounded at 5:41 PM on October 24, 2008


I myself, by contrast, am legendary yet semi-obscure.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:47 PM on October 24, 2008


Is it just me or is it only about 10 minutes long? Seems more like a trailer than a documentary.
posted by Manhasset at 5:58 PM on October 24, 2008


What does "semi-legendary" mean?

Isn't "legendary" one of those attributes which is digital, not analog? (Like "unique" or "notorious"?)
posted by Class Goat at 6:00 PM on October 24, 2008


Maybe the People Would Be the Times or Between Clark and Hilldale.

That's all.
posted by mandal at 6:03 PM on October 24, 2008


Isn't "legendary" one of those attributes which is digital, not analog?

Maybe like notorious, but neither is binary. Social reputation is obviously incremental, the unit of change being the person, while these terms describe how large groups feel about them. I say 2 dimensions - depth (intensity) and breadth (fame). Deep and narrow = cult, wide and shallow = pop. Love has a funny mix, not as deep as some cult bands, but the kind of band that every music hipster knows you're sposeta like.
posted by msalt at 6:12 PM on October 24, 2008


Great post! I can remember exactly where I was when I heard Love for the first time, and can still recall the frisson of pure, physical pleasure that washed over me and left me speechless for a few minutes afterwards. Tip for anyone who ever wants to mug me: put Love's version of "Hey Joe" on the jukebox and rifle through my pockets at will. I'll be too busy playing air guitar to notice anything else.

There's nothing "semi" about Arthur Lee.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 6:29 PM on October 24, 2008


"Obscure" isn't very accurate. They weren't huge, but they weren't obscure either. They were more widely known and popular in the UK. Syd Barrett was a big Arthur Lee fan.
posted by DecemberBoy at 6:42 PM on October 24, 2008


One of my very favorite bands. Thanks.
posted by desuetude at 7:06 PM on October 24, 2008


There are people wearing frowns who'd rather screw you up than screw you down. Thanks for the post.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:50 PM on October 24, 2008


Syd Barrett was a big Arthur Lee fan.

I heard that the central riff to "Interstellar Overdrive" was inspired by a Love song. I wonder which one? Hopefully it's in the links.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:10 PM on October 24, 2008


it was inspired by their arrangement of little red book, a bacharach-david song
posted by pyramid termite at 9:18 PM on October 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this post.

I saw Love about 5 times between 2002 and 2004, including their first official show back at the Knitting Factory in LA. Prior to that first show, there was just no way of knowing what Arthur was gonna be like...whether he was "all there", whether he could still sing. My only reference for former-burnout 60's stars still kicking around onstage at that point was Brian Wilson, so I had reason to be worried. But he was a fucking STAR. He had moves, cockiness, style...and his voice sounded better than on the old records. I'll never forget him striding out and belting out those songs as long as I live. It was clearly that something was 'going on' by that last show, not all that long before the end...but there were many, many unforgettable moments before it got to that point.

In retrospect it's kind of shocking how quickly it went from his release from prison to comeback to semi-trainwreck to death, but I just feel incredibly grateful that I got to witness his victory lap. People don't usually get victory laps like that, but he made the most of his.
posted by anazgnos at 9:26 PM on October 24, 2008 [1 favorite]



A great, difficult to categorize band, and one that has to grow on you -- if you'll let it.

Both of Love's two main songwriters had idiosyncratic approaches to songwriting, with sometimes very odd lyrics ("The snot has caked against my pants / it has turned into crystal / Theres a bluebird sitting on a branch / I guess I'll take my pistol").

7 & 7 Is and Alone Again Or have been covered by everyone from Rush to The Ramones, from Matthew Sweet to The Damned.

They were a multi-racial band that predated both The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Sly and The Family Stone.

Their masterpiece, Forever Changes, came out at the height of acid rock with a mostly acoustic sound and arrangements that included mariachi horns.

Little Red Book is their biggest hit, yet it was originally written by Burt Bacharach for, and performed by Manfred Mann in the movie What's New, Pussycat?

Love's version of Hey Joe added nothing to either of .The Leaves' versions, nor The Byrds' for that matter.

One reason they didn't make it bigger was Arthur Lee's reluctance to tour, specifically, to fly. They hardly played a gig outside of southern California during their most creative period.

Nevertheless, nearly everything on Love's first three albums is valuable and worth hearing. If you don't know Love, give 'em a few spins before you decide.

Thanks for the reminder.
posted by Herodios at 9:30 PM on October 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


recently saw this film at the red vic movie theater. it's totally worthwhile. i learned a lot about the band that i'd not known before, and i've been a fan of the band for over 30 years (found the first elpee in my folk's stack of vinyl -- yeah they were hippies).

hearing the songs at a good volume over the theaters's speakers was a treat, it gave me shivers. it was hard not to let out a howl of glee in response. the music is as fresh and thrilling as it was on the first listen.

i still love the first love elpee the best, though some of my friends respond in stunned disbelief that, if i "knew what i was talking about" i'd put forever changes at the top of the list. oh well- no accounting for taste!

love is the band that led me to the early punk bands. this documentary is very good at creating a sense of the moment, of capturing the living history. sadly never got to see arthur lee play before he died.

another music doc i saw recently - dream of life, about patti smith - also captures an essence of the music and the artist, though in a very different style. i'd recommend seeing that one, too.
posted by lapolla at 12:20 AM on October 25, 2008


Red Vic is a great theater, glad to hear it's still there. Still has the couches, I hope?
posted by msalt at 1:14 AM on October 25, 2008


red vic has the long velvet-cushion covered, pew-like benches, if that's what you mean by couches.
posted by lapolla at 1:23 AM on October 25, 2008


msalt, thanks for the deeep music post. "Little Red Book" was on a "60's garage-band sounds" compilation that I bought in the late 70's. Only 30 years to get the fuller story...muchas gracias.
posted by telstar at 1:44 AM on October 25, 2008


Obscure and semi legendary? Get a grip, mate. Just because their music doesnt appear on SUV adverts doesnt mean they're either of those things.

Forever Changes is the best album of all time according to the UK Parliament.
posted by the cuban at 2:38 AM on October 25, 2008


Yes, thanks. One of my favorites. I would just say "legendary."
posted by MarshallPoe at 8:32 AM on October 25, 2008


Yes, thanks. One of my favorites. I would just say "legendary."

Yes, yes, and yes. And thanks. What a band.
posted by languagehat at 8:56 AM on October 25, 2008


Is it just me or is it only about 10 minutes long? Seems more like a trailer than a documentary.

This is "Chapter One"; presumably/hopefully they'll put up another chunk next week and someone will link it here.
posted by languagehat at 9:03 AM on October 25, 2008


(Interstellar Overdrive) was inspired by their arrangement of little red book, a bacharach-david song

Really? Do you have a source? Not that I don't believe you, but everything I've ever read just says "this Arthur Lee song" or "an Arthur Lee song", etc.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:46 AM on October 25, 2008


Is it just me or is it only about 10 minutes long? Seems more like a trailer than a documentary.

The next part loads automatically after the first (at least, it did for me). Excellent post. Thanks! Love is/was amazing.
posted by purephase at 9:48 AM on October 25, 2008


-(Interstellar Overdrive) was inspired by their arrangement of little red book, a bacharach-david song

-Really? Do you have a source? Not that I don't believe you, but everything I've ever read just says "this Arthur Lee song" or "an Arthur Lee song", etc.


I had seen/heard this in some documentary ages ago. The wiki page on the song claims Floyd manager Jenner couldn't remember the name of "Little Red Book" and was trying to hum it to Barrett. Barrett, in turn, played the hummed melody back to Jenner, and the hook for Interstellar Overdrive was born.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:21 AM on October 25, 2008


The wiki page on the song claims Floyd manager Jenner couldn't remember the name of "Little Red Book" and was trying to hum it to Barrett. Barrett, in turn, played the hummed melody back to Jenner, and the hook for Interstellar Overdrive was born.

Here's (early Floyd producer) Joe Boyd relating that exact story.

I've also heard the Steptoe & Son theme song held as the inspiration for the Interstellar riff...
posted by anazgnos at 10:41 AM on October 25, 2008


Here's (early Floyd producer) Joe Boyd relating that exact story.

I'm pretty sure I've read the Peter Jenner interview that he's talking about, and Jenner doesn't name the song. However, listening again to "Little Red Book", that's got to be it. Wow, you learn something new every day, I guess.
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:10 AM on October 25, 2008


Thanks for the link to the Manfred Mann original version. Love's is not really all that different - a little more menacing and snotty, and maybe a chord or two different, but the feel and tempo is fairly close.

And nice comment about Lee's well deserved victory lap. Nice that he and Brian Wilson got a few. Too bad Syd missed out
posted by jetsetsc at 11:48 AM on October 25, 2008


It seems that I now live in a world where Love can be considered "obscure".

Now I feel old.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 12:14 PM on October 25, 2008


Wow, you learn something new every day, I guess.

I should emphasise that there's all kinds of Barrett apocrypha out there, a lot of it based on stories Roger Waters likes to tell about Syd, about things that only seemed to have happened in his presence. I remember reading in Q magazine a few years back some story about how Syd enjoyed crushing tranquilizers into a fine powder, mixing it with pomade, and then working it into his hair before going on stage - the hot lights, apparently, would start to melt the pomade and the tranquilizer powder would enter his bloodstream dermally. This seemed like some ludicrous stuff to me at the time; the kind of psychedelic fish story that's easy to pass off about a guy who was, when alive, living with his mother and not talking to anyone.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:29 PM on October 25, 2008


Forever Changes is indeed possibly the finest record ever made. Despite crummy production, the overlooked follow-up LP Four Sail is completely wonderful, too, and sports excellent cuts like "Robert Montgomery," "Your Friend and Mine - Neil's Song" and "Always See Your Face."
posted by porn in the woods at 12:46 PM on October 25, 2008


I almost bought this last night but it's a 30 dollar DVD!
SO, it's awesome that you can watch this for free for a limited time. I watched and it was really great. I think they probably needed to include more "moments" with Arthur Lee. He's both introspective and hilarious. AND- a theatrical release probably would have done the DVD release some good.
posted by MoniqueR at 2:19 PM on October 25, 2008


'cause of MetaFilter, I was introduced to Arthur Lee. I was only familiar with Little Red Book back then. But yeah, love his oeuvre.
Some fine covers by Mazzy Star, Five String Serenade and Calexico, Alone Again Or. Loved the Damned's version of that too.

To see more chapters, in the URL, change the last number to the chapter you want.
posted by alicesshoe at 4:01 PM on October 25, 2008


I followed the link to Start Productions from the first Pitchfork page. Bought the DVD, only $24 with shipping from the UK.

My husband has followed Arthur Lee and Love for more than 30 years, we saw Arthur Lee in a Country Western bar in North Hollywood -- was it on Hallowe'en?? He played with his son.
posted by ohshenandoah at 9:14 PM on October 26, 2008


To see more chapters, in the URL, change the last number to the chapter you want.

Thanks for that, alicesshoe—I just finished watching the last (10th) segment, and I recommend the whole thing to anyone who cared about Love. A sad tale, but it's good to know the details. A great band done in by fear (Lee's fear of leaving LA), drugs, and the Doors (Lee introduced them to Elektra, which promptly turned its promotional powers in their direction).
posted by languagehat at 3:00 PM on October 28, 2008


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