Friday, June 29, 2007

No. 40: Forever Changes

Band: Love
Album: Forever Changes
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: One of the underappreciated highlights of the psychedelic movement, "Forever Changes" jumps from genre to genre while supplying powerful lyrics.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: It's just another of the seemingly millions of records made between 1967 and 1975 that Rolling Stone considers to be great. It sounds like a lot of other things (Simon & Garfunkel, Jefferson Airplane, etc.) and doesn't really stand out as much as the 40th greatest album of all time should.
Best song: "Alone Again Or" is a lot of fun.
Worst song: "Bummer in the Summer" isn't great.
Is it awesome?: Maybe.

Like a poor man's "Sgt. Pepper's," "Forever Changes" is representative of the summer of love sound from 1967. While the Beatles had a decidedly British sound to that record, Love's sound was distinctly Californian, drawing as much from the Mamas and the Papas as they did from the Beatles. The mariachi horns on "Alone Again Or" and "Maybe the People Would Be the Times or Between Clark and Hilldale" is a leap the Beatles probably wouldn't have made, for example.

Because of this sound, "Forever Changes" has an urgency that a lot of other records from that time period have. Singer Arthur Lee's vocals sound as though he's chasing something, evident on "Live And Let Live." Syd Barrett made no secret that the early Pink Floyd sound was an extension of Love's. The psychedelic vocal tracking on "The Red Telephone" actually sounds like it could be on "Piper At The Gates of Dawn." Moreover, the actual theme of "The Red Telephone" (death) is something much more maudlin than most rock bands of the day were exploring (save for the Doors).

I'm not sure I think this is worthy of a top 40 ranking. It's an interesting record, but it barely made a dent in the music landscape of 1967 (it charted in the States at 154).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is another record that made an even more minute dent in 1967. It debuted at 199, got as high as 171, and disappeared from the charts a second time at 193. This record being The Velvet Underground & Nico. So, it's hardly fair to judge greatness by chart position.