Think psychedelia. Think twangy, sitarish-sounding strings. Think moccasins, tambourines, triangle sun shades, striped trousers and leather coats. Think love. Now, think real Love.
The music of the band Love, which caught Doors shaman Jim Morrison's ear and inspired him on his road to fame, can be heard as sharp as ever in "Love Story," a two-CD, 44-track set.This retrospective of songs from the first rock band to be signed on the then-folk label Elektra begins with the bouncing opening cut "My Little Red Book" and ends with the ragtime rock of "Everybody's Gotta Live." Everything in between reflects Love's intuitive blending of punk, pop, folk, blues and Latin gems.
The Los Angeles band was formed in 1965 by guitarist Arthur Lee but never scored on the American music charts with a blockbuster hit. Though Love did have a large following in Europe, the band spent most of its time slipping in and out of bars such as Bido Litos's, Brave New World and the Whiskey-A-Go-Go up and down the Sunset Strip.
Still, many prominent musicians of today admit to a certain Love sickness. When Led Zeppelin was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year, singer Robert Plant confirmed Love's influence on LZ's music. Other artists, such as Alice Cooper, Robyn Hitchcock and Frank Black, have also publicly announced their Love affair.
Modern bands such as the Hooters, the Damned and Mazzy Starr paid tribute to Love in 1994 on the Alias Records album "We're All Normal and We Want Our Freedom: A Tribute to Arthur Lee and Love."
The first "Love Story" disc not only contains the stripped-down version of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David-penned "My Little Red Book," but also the Love song jingle-jangle "Can't Explain," the bluesy "A Message to Pretty" and a hopping version of "Hey, Joe."
In addition, disc one features the punky "7 and 7 Is," the harpsichord-laden "Stephanie Knows Who" and the popping, two-part trip called "Your Mind and We Belong Together."
The Latinesque grooves of "August" and "I Still Wonder" intermingle with the blues-flavored jazz piece "Good Times" and the brass-band-backed arrangement of "Always See Your Face" on disc two.
The main reason for tracking down this compilation, however, is to acquire the entire contents of Love's masterpiece, "Forever Changes."
The 11-song album is divided between these two discs. Side one of the original vinyl record comprise the last six songs on CD No. 1, while side two is CD No. 2's first five cuts.
"Alone Again Or," the acoustic "A House Is Not a Motel" and "Andmoreagain," which sounds like a young Johnny Matthis excerpt, are remixed to studio-quality sharpness. The vividly tuned "Maybe People Would Be the Times Or Between Clark and Hilldale," the spring-day feel of "The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This" and the "Gloria"-influenced "Bummer in the Summer" are found in their entirety.
Anyone fascinated by the sounds of the 1960s will be mesmerized by Love's sometimes delicate and sometimes brutal arrangements. And thanks to high-quality remastering, the songs have now been preserved for years to come.
Love is strong. Love is high. Love lives.
RATINGS: four stars (* * * * ), excellent; three stars (* * * ), good; two stars (* * ), fair; one star (* ), poor, with 1/2 representing a higher, intermediate grade.