Free: Arthur Lee!
December 14, 2001 12:26 PM   Subscribe

Free: Arthur Lee! Legendary frontman for LA psych pioneers Love is out from behind bars ... for now.
posted by hipstertrash (12 comments total)
"7 & 7 Is" is one of the best garage rock songs ever.
posted by elvissinatra at 12:46 PM on December 14, 2001

There's no question that "7 and 7 Is" was great. But Love's best song, "Little Red Book," was actually written by Burt Bacharach. The rest of the Love catalogue has a few gems mixed in with a lot of crap-ola. Those boys used a lot of drugs, and it showed. I'd say their whole worthwhile output consists of about 7 songs. Don't believe the hype you get about these more obscure '60s groups. Most of 'em blow. Heaven forbid you should listen to anything by the Seeds beyond "Pushing Too Hard," or the Standells beyond "Dirty Water." The Bobby Fuller Four is being reissued in droves of CDs, but their whole worthwhile output consists of three songs (one of which, "I Fought the Law," was copied note for note from the original version by the Crickets).
posted by Faze at 1:34 PM on December 14, 2001

Just a brief aside: I was once in Central Square in Boston, where I saw, in the window of a knick-knack/miscellani shop (y'know, with sundry cool-type items), a sign saying, "Free Leonard Peltier".

So I was wondering, for a moment or two, what were Leonard Peltiers, and why were they giving them away for free? And then it hit me....
posted by mattpfeff at 2:02 PM on December 14, 2001

Oh, I don't know, Faze. There's definitely some "crap-ola" in the catalogue, but the albums, on the whole, hold up pretty well against the best-known stuff. And there are certainly more than 7 keepers -- in fact, at least a dozen are classics. Besides "My Little Red Book" and "7 and 7 Is," how about "Softly to Me" and "Alone Again Or" (two Bryan Maclean songs), "She Comes in Colors," "A House Is Not a Motel," "The Daily Planet," "Between Clark and Hilldale," "You Set the Scene," "Robert Montgomery," and "Always See Your Face" -- not to mention lesser-known but still worthwhile stuff such as "Que Vida!," "August," "Singing Cowboy," and "I Still Wonder"?

And there are a few other decent garage rave-ups besides "7 and 7 Is" -- "My Flash on You," "Stephanie Knows Who," "Hey Joe." (I also dig some of the borderline kitch, e.g., "Orange Skies" and "The Good Humor Man," but I can't really defend it.)

In any case, Love don't belong in the same category as the Seeds or the Standells. They weren't just a one-song "garage" band; they came up with a unique, jazz-blues-pop-psychedelic sound that I've never heard duplicated. They're usually compared, not to the "Nuggets" crowd, but to their L.A. contemporaries, the Doors, whose crap-ola quotient is (IMHO) much higher.
posted by macrone at 3:57 PM on December 14, 2001 [1 favorite]

I used to manage a video arcade and I'd play a defective 8-track cassette of "She Comes In Colors" over the PA system just to drive all the loitering kids out of the place at closing time. If that didn't work, I'd break out the heavy artillery...Brian Eno's "Fat Lady of Limbourg".
posted by MrBaliHai at 4:41 PM on December 14, 2001

The snot has caked against my pants, it has turned into crystal. Only ever rock group (artist, it was all Lee, wasn't it) to make snot poetry. Not a small feat.
posted by Zootoon at 4:44 PM on December 14, 2001 [1 favorite]

macrone - amen, but don't forget "Bummer in the Summer"
posted by hipstertrash at 5:21 PM on December 14, 2001

Actually, the Seeds had a few other good songs like "Rolling Machine" and the Standells had "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White." Other garage acts like the Sonics("Strychnine" "Psycho") and the Beau Brummels ("Laugh Laugh" and agreat cover of Dylan's "One Too Many Mornings") managed to crank out more than one good song. Actually, garage rock is treasure trove of unpretentiously rocking gems. The unititiated should search "Sonics" or "Electric Prunes" on WinMX or Morpheus and then browse the users hard drive. The Nuggets, Pebbles and Hang It Out To Dry series of compilations are a good place to start.
Of Course, Love were near the top of the heap of this bunch. Supposedly Jim Morrison was quoted as saying his ambition for the Doors was to become "as big as Love" and while he may have become bigger I don't think the Doors were ever as good.
Anyway, I'm glad Arthurs back, hopefully he be making some good music soon.
posted by jonmc at 9:21 PM on December 14, 2001

Little Red Book

Ah, yes,I remember one night in my senior year summer, riding postillion in Donn Waner's Super Hawk, tuning into that on the radio and thinking the face--or fate--of rock 'n roll transfigured...

Now, there's a thread: Red Herring One Hit Wonders.
posted by y2karl at 10:19 PM on December 14, 2001

Stew from the LA band The Negro Problem was influenced by and has been compared to Arthur Lee too many times to count.
posted by euphorb at 1:31 AM on December 15, 2001

The Negro Problem, I'm sorry to say, has an even lower hit quotient than Love. But Macarone, you're right. A lot of the Love songs you cite are pretty good. I take what I said back. But JohnMC: I would suggest that the Beau Brummels belong in a whole different category than Love, the Seeds, etc. The Beaus are big time, just sub-Byrds, IMHO. Check out their "Greatest Hits." Very few dogs here.
posted by Faze at 9:14 AM on December 15, 2001

Even better than the Nuggets and Pebbles compilations are the Back from the Grave and Teenage Shutdown series from Crypt Records. These collections prove once and for all that punk rock started in the mid-sixties in suburban American garages all over the country. They had everything: the snotty attitudes, the D/I/Y production, screaming vocals, fussy drummers, the whole bit.

However, the best garage band in the world is undeniably the Sonics.
posted by elvissinatra at 1:17 PM on December 17, 2001

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