Music

Love: Forever Changes (Collector's Edition)

Love's 1967 masterpiece is reissued yet again, this time with a bonus disc containing tracking sessions, outtakes, and an alternate mix of the entire album.


Love

Forever Changes

Subtitle: Collector's Edition
Label: Rhino
First date: 1967-11-01
US Release Date: 2008-04-22
UK Release Date: 2008-04-28
Amazon
Amazon
iTunes

Love's 1967 psych-folk album Forever Changes, a transcendent looking-glass perspective from the otherwise fabled Summer of Love, enjoys its now 40-year existence as a record both frozen in time and timeless. Its sound owes so much to the time in which it was made -- David Angel's string arrangements, in particular, recall those being created concurrently by Jack Nitzsche for Buffalo Springfield and Neil Young, while the surges of baroque folk-rock are decidedly regressive to 21st century ears -- yet its narratives of paranoia and prescience can feel remarkably free of epochal debt. As pop music, the album is deceptively exquisite, its unnerving reveal of prophetic signs o' the times delivered under guise of 12-string acoustic guitars and spry AM-radio horns. "The news today will be the movies for tomorrow", Arthur Lee sings on "A House Is Not a Motel", and he's right -- Forever Changes, a claustrophobic and ebullient musing on life, death, and consciousness, is music from then made for now, and now, and now.

Lee and Love made Forever Changes while they were going through changes of their own; two of the band's members, keyboardist Alban "Snoopy" Pfisterer and woodwind player Tjay Cantrelli, had recently left, while the remaining lineup wasn't exactly the picture of stability. (In fact, Lee began recording Forever Changes with Los Angeles session musicians, reportedly including Hal Blaine and Carol Kaye, before the rest of the band returned.) Love may have seemed like something of a mid-'60s Californian hippy cliché -- the members all lived together in an L.A. house once owned by Béla Lugosi -- but its perspective of cynicism and discontent, gleaned from racial and political unrest at home and abroad, contradicted the vogue of peace and love.

Naturally, this two-disc "collector's edition" makes the argument for Forever Changes' timelessness -- an aggressive argument, in fact, that arrives a mere seven years after Rhino first reissued the album in 2001. This new edition includes much of the 2001 reissue's bonus material (the 1967 single "Your Mind and We Belong Together" b/w "Laughing Stock", a demo for the instrumental "Hummingbirds", some tracking sessions highlights), but also includes a new alternate mix of the entire album. The alternate mix is, like the original album, in stereo, and therefore only serves as an opportunity to hear Forever Changes with its stereo spectrum slightly rearranged. It isn't revelatory, but the previously unreleased mix does offer a new perspective on the sometimes loose interplay between instruments (you can actually hear moments where it seems like the band's cohesion is on the brink of nonchalant collapse), as well as the occasional separation of vocal tracks. Still, it's not a preferable alternative to the album's original mix, which keeps a tight lid on the energy of songs like "The Daily Planet", a rocker in the vein of early Who, and the propulsive "The Red Telephone".

"The Red Telephone" is literally the centerpiece of Forever Changes, in terms of tracklisting; it is also fairly representative of the album's capacity for contrasting narrative with ornate musical design. The song has a peculiar chord progression that slides down a few half-steps before doubling back on itself, sung by Lee in his quavering bedside voice. "Life goes on here, day after day / I don't know if I'm livin' or if I'm supposed to be / Sometimes my life is so eerie", Lee sings, mixing the mundane with the mystical, the fatalist with the unknown, while Angel's strings hover, shroud, and strike with restless animation.

Other tracks, like "Alone Again Or" and "Andmoreagain", are defined more by finicky structure and an almost classical melodic sense. Written by guitarist Bryan MacLean, "Alone Again Or" fidgets between a sparse solo acoustic guitar part reminiscent of the Mamas & the Papas' "California Dreamin'" and a cluttered mariachi horn-accompanied refrain. Likewise, "Andmoreagain" stops and starts, its progression like a set of deliberate steps that are thought about before they are taken. "I'm lost in confusions / 'Cause my things are material", Lee sings, the melody taking a hesitant downturn at the end of each line. If there's anything that remains a constant amongst these songs of identity crisis and self-doubt, of encroaching disorder and common chaos, it's the music -- not a symphony, perhaps, but envious of a symphony's steadfastness.

You wouldn't know that listening to the tracking sessions highlights for "The Red Telephone", which quickly disintegrates into an impromptu (and quickly aborted) run through Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs' "Wooly Bully". Both tracks are available on Rhino's collector's edition, and while they offer a behind-the-scenes puncture of Forever Changes' stately façade, they're hardly essential listening. You don't need miscellaneous documentation to explain what beats behind Forever Changes's chest, because it's all there in the record: the fear of what's coming, the security of what's already there, and the erratic beauty of their coexistence.

7

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.

Music

The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.