Forever Changes, by Love
Forever Changes, released November 1967, is the third album by the band Love. It has been widely heralded as a psychedelic classic from the Summer of Love, and ranks 40th on Rolling Stone’s list of 500 greatest albums.
Love was a popular live act on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles between 1966-67, sharing the spotlight with other local bands such as the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, the Doors, Frank Zappa, the Turtles, the Seeds, the Leafs, and the Standells.
Love was led by Arthur Lee, who sang lead and handled most of the songwriting duties. He was supported in the band by lead guitarist Johnny Echols, rhythm guitarist Bryan MacLean, bassist Ken Forssi, and drummer Michael Stuart.
Forever Changes was a departure from Love’s previous two albums, which were hard rockers in the style of the Yardbirds and Rolling Stones. Forever Changes was primarily acoustic in nature, enhanced with string and horn arrangements courtesy of David Angel. Bruce Botnick, who engineered Love’s first two albums, co-produced the album with Arthur Lee. (Botnick also worked with the Doors, Buffalo Springfield, Captain Beefheart, and the Beach Boys.)
The title of the album came from a story Lee heard about a friend who broke up with his girlfriend. She pleaded, “You said you would love me forever!,” to which he responded, “Well, forever changes.” Lee also noted that since the name of the band was Love, the full title is actually Love Forever Changes.
When Love converged on the recording studio in June 1967 to begin laying down tracks for the album, they had not performed together for several months, thus finding them too rusty to perform as a group. In response, Bruce Botnich brought in the Wrecking Crew, top-notch studio musicians recruited to stand in for the band. The Wrecking Crew recorded a pair of songs: “Daily Planet,” and the standout track “Andmoreagain,” before Love’s band members were able to reconvey and complete the rest of the album.
[The Wrecking Crew also performed on the Byrd’s first hit, “Mr. Tambourine Man.”]
The opening track, “Alone Again Or,” was written by Bryan MacLean, who also contributed “Softly To Me” and “Orange Skies” to Love’s first two albums. Alone Again Or was released as a single and peaked nationally at #123 in early 1968. It features mariachi horns, obtained through Bruce Botnick’s association with Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass.
Two tracks feature Johnny Echols doing his best Jeff Beck imitation on electric lead guitar: “A House is Not a Motel,” and “Live and Let Live.” He also shows off some country licks on “Bummer in the Summer;” and displays his finger-picking skills on “The Red Telephone.”
Arthur Lee’s tribute to the Sunset Strip, “Maybe the People Would Be the Times or Between Clark and Hilldale,” has a strong Merseybeat influence; while “The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This” is notable for its jazzy rhythm and horn arrangement.
The album closes with the anthemic “You Set the Scene,” a track made epic by David Angel’s baroque string and horn arrangement.
Forever Changes received mixed reviews when it was released. The band’s impending breakup and refusal to tour doomed it to stall at #154 on the album charts. The release fared much better in Great Britain where it peaked at #24.
Love recorded one more single in January 1968 before imploding as a group: “Your Mind and We Belong Together,” with “Laughing Stock” on the flip side. Bryan MacLean was first to quit, then Arthur Lee dismissed the rest of the band.
Arthur Lee continued recording as Love until 1974 then slipped into obscurity, eventually serving 6 years in prison for domestic abuse and a firearms violation. He returned to the stage in 2002, and continued performing until he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2005. Arthur Lee passed away in August 2006.
Forever Changes’ stature has improved markedly with the passage of time. In addition to Rolling Stone’s ranking, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008, and added to the National Registry in 2012. In a special issue of Mojo magazine, Forever Changes was ranked the second greatest psychedelic album of all time. In January 1996, Mojo readers selected Forever Changes as #11 of the “100 Greatest Albums Ever Made.”
Arthur Lee – Alone Again Or (Jules Holland, 2003)
Arthur Lee – You Set The Scene (Jules Holland, 2003)
Arthur Lee – Love Story #1
Johnny Echols – Love Story #5
Johnny Echols – Love Story #6
Snoopy Pfisterer – Love Story #8
Robert Rozelle – Love Story #10
Bruce Botnick – Love Story #11
John Densmore – Love #7
Jac Holzman – Love Story #12
David Angel – Love Story #13
Arthur Lee – Love Story #14
Bryan MacLean Interview