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Love: Behind the Scenes Paperback – 15 Sep 2003


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Helter Skelter Publishing (15 Sep 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1900924595
  • ISBN-13: 978-1900924597
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 1.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 622,520 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Synopsis

Love was one of the legendary bands of the late 1960s US West Coast scene, and their masterpiece "Forever Changes" still regularly appears in critics' polls. Yet the band never truly fulfilled their potential and broke through to the Los Angeles premier league inhabited by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The author was the band's drummer and shares his inside perspective on the band's recording and performing career. He tells how drugs and egos thwarted the potential of one of the great groups of the burgeoning psychedelic era.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By reader on 7 Nov 2007
Format: Paperback
An interesting, detailed and well-written account of Love's peak '66/'67 period. plenty of first-hand insights, some of which provide a new perspective on events such as the recording of "Forever Changes". If you have an interest in the band's music you will enjoy this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 13 reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Sirens and Sea-Monsters Glimpsed Through the Glass Bottom of a Submarine 6 Aug 2005
By Judson Knight - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
There isn't much I can say about this fabulous book that hasn't already been said by other reviewers here. Stuart-Ware is an exceptional storyteller, and though as one reader noted, his work lacks the polish of a professional writer's, I would read an exceptionally engrossing tale such as this one over a well-written doorstopper any day. And yes, I wish he had discussed the recording of *Forever Changes* in much greater detail, but what might be cited as a flaw in this instance points to a much greater overall virtue: this book leaves you wanting more, not because it isn't satisfying, but precisely because it is. As I see it, he could have written a book twice this long and, assuming it was as engrossing as what we see in *Pegasus Carousel*, it wouldn't take any longer to read because it would be that enthralling.

One hardly need be a Love fan to enjoy this memoir. Of course it helps, but on a much larger level, this book is for anyone who loves rock music and is fascinated by both the creativity of great musicians and their tendency toward dissipation. Likewise it's for anyone who appreciates modern American popular culture, because it gives a street-level view of a seminal time and place in the creation of that culture: the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles during the halcyon years 1965-68.

And if one should only discover *Forever Changes*, and Love's music in general, after reading this book, then not only is a great reward in store--I think FC is a very serious contender for the title "greatest rock album of all time"--but so is a great shock. To read Stuart-Ware's book is like looking into the kitchen of a five-star restaurant and seeing the piles of grease-laden dishes, the cook with a cigarette dangling from his mouth as he stands over the stove, the rats gnawing around the trash can out back--and then, when you enter the dining room, everything is all polish and pressed linen. In other words, to hear the breathtaking brilliance that is *Forever Changes,* and then to contrast that with the atmosphere of infighting, jealousy, laziness, and dangerous drug use that Stuart-Ware portrays, is to experience cognitive dissonance of a high order. And yet ultimately, of course, these revelations of self-undermining behavior only make the achievement that was FC all the more impressive.

With a book like this--especially given the great number of famous names that make cameos here, and the many extraordinary stories--there's always somebody who is going to question its veracity. Yet Stuart-Ware's account has an unmistakable ring of truth, and not just because of the extraordinarily evocative details it contains. Of greater importance is the author's attitude--his humility and his clear-headed perspective. He does not seek to make himself seem more important than he was, he has no axe to grind, and he's not reliving some mythical past that the rest of his life never equaled. In fact, as he makes clear in the preface, the really important things in his life are the ones that happened after his brief stint in the limelight. As for his portrayal of Arthur Lee, I think Stuart-Ware shows an impressive command over the age-old writers' dictum, "Show, don't tell": he never tells you what to think about this extremely troubled, enigmatic genius, but the portrait is clear enough anyway.

All in all, an extraordinary and enormously entertaining book whose greatest flaw is that it had to have an end.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Great read. lots of fun, poignant recollections... 19 Feb 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Imagine that you are an ardent Love fan, and one night you step into a bar and sitting next to you is some guy and it turns out that he was the drummer for Love and played on Da Capo and Forever Changes. All you would want is to do is sit there all night and ask: "what was it like?!" -- Well, the answer would be this book. I couldn't put it down, and basically read it straight through in two sittings. Two nights of hearing Michael Stuart tell what it was like. The chapters are short and accessible. It almost feels like he is just talking straight to you. What he describes is anecdote after anecdote, story after story, and various moments in the 1906's LA scene. There's Kim Fowley grooving out at some UCLA gig. There's Arthur yelling at Jim Morrison for skinny dipping in his pool. Laurel Canyon, the Sunset Strip, Bido Lito's....from the silly to the sublime, the memories are shared, often eloquently.
Arthur definitely comes off as a jerk. A genius, a magnetic personality, a strong and charismatic force -- but a a jerk. Sarcastic, cruel, and he even, according to the author, stiffed the other guys and didn't ever give them their royalties from the work on these two albums. Harsh. My interactions with Arthur have all been positive; he even wrote me back when he was in prison, and has been kind and curteous every time I have ever approcahed hm. But maybe he has just softened as he's gotten older. Because in this book, he seemed pretty mean and unsavory. The liner notes to McLean's "If you Believe..." paint a similar portrait.
My only criticism of this book is that it gives really short shrift to Forever Changes. In my opinion, Forever Changes is the greatest album of all time, ever. It moves me more than any book I have ever read, more than any painting I have ever seen -- it is simply the greatest human creative expression that I have ever expeienced. That said, I was let down that the author really doesn't say all that much about it. Just a little: they didn't rehearse much, studio musicians were brought in, then let go, then it was recorded -- and that was that and he quickly moves on. I was stunned. There was no discussion of the sheer brilliance of it; the non-traditional musical arrangments (like no choruses or hooks), the astounding lyrics, the chilling snare work in the beginning of You Set the Scene....I wanted to know more; how did they feel as they recorded it? What did the author think the first time he heard The red Telepone, for instance?
This is a must-read for any Love fan, or anyone compelled by LA in the 1960s.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Love's drummer changed, but not forever 19 Mar 2004
By Patrick T. Hand - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Late last year, Rolling Stone published its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The number 40 spot belonged to Forever Changes, the 1967 classic by the bi-racial Los Angeles rock band Love. Changes peaked at only 154 on the Billboard Album chart. However, with its weird, druggy songs, and eccentric mixture of rock, Herb Alpert-like brass arrangements, and haunting strings, the album has become regarded as a masterpiece.
Michael Stuart-Ware, Love's drummer during its heyday, apparently wrote this book for consumption by fans of the band (a version of Love still tours with Arthur Lee, its front man and sole original member). However, the author also has produced an engaging memoir of the 1964-68 L.A. music scene, when the rock genre was being transformed from a niche teen market into a cultural phenomenon.
The son of an aerospace worker, Stuart-Ware plays drums in his high school band (a photograph shows him with a bow tie and a buzz cut) and earns a college scholarship. As a student at UCLA, he is taken by the new sound of The Beatles, Rolling Stones and other British Invasion bands. The author drops out of college, joins a band, and later is asked to join Love. Despite his awareness of Love's reputation for rampant drug use, and his own disdain for drugs, Stuart-Ware readily accepts the invitation.
The author shares living space with other band members, and soon is smoking hash with them and dropping LSD. Indeed, a communal hash pipe seemingly accompanies the band's every activity, whether traveling on a commercial jet, rehearsing, or just eating. Lead singer Lee, a black man from Watts (but more musically influenced by folk-rocker Roger McGuinn than James Brown), is the focal point of the book. Lee is portrayed alternatively as a thug (mercilessly beating a man for a drug deal gone awry), and as strict taskmaster who successfully transforms his vision for Changes into a finished product.

Ultimately, Lee's boorishness and self-absorption, and the whole band's drug use and unprofessionalism, spell its downfall. For instance, after flying to Miami at the expense of Elektra Records, and being entertained at the home of an Elektra executive, Lee cancels a gig when he learns that The Mothers of Invention have top billing. At what should have been the band's zenith, the original Love implodes and its members quickly scatter.
Stuart-Ware kicks around with other acts, and is offered a job backing up Neil Diamond. He considers the offer, but declines after attending a Diamond concert and remembering, "I had never liked one song Neil Diamond had ever recorded, not even a bit." After which the author permanently leaves the music business, going on to hold a number of different jobs, including printer, product inspector, scuba instructor and telephone pole climber.
Stuart-Ware, a first-time author, is not a great writer. His verse is stilted and suffers from unnecessary detail ("We found a place to park about a half block from the restaurant and I fished some change from my pocket and fed the meter."). Conversely, the interesting post-breakup escapades of Love's members are all but ignored. No mention is made of Arthur Lee's later, frequent brushes with the criminal justice system (culminating in a six-year prison term under California's "three strikes and you're out" law). Nor does Stuart-Ware relate that two heroin-addicted former band mates (guitarist Johnny Echols and bassist Ken Forssi) did time for holding up donut shops, or that singer-guitarist Bryan MacLean became a Christian missionary until his death in 1998. Those omissions are inexplicable.
On the other hand, Stuart-Ware is a fine storyteller. He takes readers into the mid-60s L.A. club scene and culture, centered on Sunset Boulevard and places like the Whisky and Bido Lito's, and houses inhabited by rock musicians in nearby Laurel Canyon. The author relates how an agitated and prudish Lee chases a naked Jim Morrison from a swimming pool at MacLean's house. There is poignant tale of the shaggy-haired band amicably sharing a plane with Vietnam-bound troops. Also, there are plenty of anecdotes about how members of a working band pass the waking hours between rehearsals and gigs. Finally, without a trace of bitterness, Stuart-Ware recalls being in a Sam Goody's shop in 1998, when his young son shows him the Love box set CD; the author pays $30 to buy the music he created 30 years before.
"Pegasus Carousel" is an enjoyable paperback about an ordinary man who took an early life detour into the realm of the abnormal. Unlike his band mates, the author returned seemingly unscathed. Now approaching the end of his working life, he writes, "I can honestly say I never had a job I didn't like," presumably including his career as a drug band drummer. He concludes, "I like normal." Apparently, the man in the bow tie is the real Michael Stuart-Ware.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
The Pigeon Whisperer 24 April 2005
By andy7 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
You must get this book. This book documents the Sunset Strip scene in the 60's better than any other book I can remember. The anecdotes recalled in this book are hilarious (check out the pigeon story).
Maybe the reason the book is so good is because you have the drummer of the band writing the bio as opposed to, say, Grace Slick writing a book and needing to keep details as vague as possible because you have a public image to protect. The drummer has nothing to lose, so he's going to write all the dirt that's fit to print. We, the readers, benefit because we see everything on the band, warts and all.
Even if you don't care much about Love, you should get this anyway and be surprised at how entertaining a rock bio can be.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
laufdogpro 24 July 2006
By Jeffrey A. Laufer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I was very sceptical when I first started the book, but as I continued to read it I found that it had a real sincerity about it. Considering is was written by Michael, drummer for love, it was a candid and warm reflection of the L.A. music scene. It talked about restaurants, clubs and even supermarkets in Los Angeles. An enjoyable read for me that I decided to read it again.
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