Love: Love Songs – An Anthology of Arthur Lee’s Love 1966-1969

Fine two-CD ‘best of’ from LA’s finest psych-folk gang.

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Current documentary makers would probably choose San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair) as the go-to Summer Of Love soundtrack. But to a more discerning crowd, the lyrics of Los Angeles’ most spangled rock poet, Arthur Lee, most accurately sum up the era and its inevitable comedown when he sang: ‘Oh, the snot has caked against my pants/and turned into crystal’ on Live And Let Live.

People took a long time to get the joke and, in America at least, equally as long to realise its author was a genius. By 1967 Elektra, the label that signed his band Love in a bid to keep up with the West Coast scene, had tired of them and shifted all their promotional energies to The Doors.

It was only the UK that recognised the band’s magnificent third album, Forever Changes, as a masterpiece. It’s included here in this two-CD anthology, respectfully and in its entirety bookended with a collection of the best and most storied cuts from the preceeding years, when Love were a more harmonious gang, living en masse in Bela Lugosi’s Hollywood 20s mansion.

Forever Changes’ troubled gestation is the stuff of studio legend and eventually tore them apart, but its sparse coupling of folk, string arrangements and brass retains its unusual allure. Despite their influence, Love still aren’t given the mainstream respect they deserve – but this fine selection should help a few more see the light./o:p

Johnny Dee

Johnny Dee is a freelance copywriter, creative and journalist. He's been published The Times, The Independent, Q  NME, Q, Smash Hits, The Word as well as in The Guardian, writing pieces for G2, online and The Guide, where he edits the weekly back page feature Infomania. He's got a long history as a music journalist and is also fond of sport (currently contributing to Runner's World and FourFourTwo).