51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on 16 October 2006
I wanted to write this review for Amazon UK because while this album was slow to take off in the US , the Brits seemed to embrace it much more easily and it is no coincidence that Arthur Lee and Love devoted a lot of tours throughout Britain to perform this album. Whether this album is one of the greatest of all time or not, or sold poorly in the beginning , or ranks with the Beatles best or the Beach Boys or whoever, is of little importance. I believe it is a rock master work and add my opinion with the rest of the enthusiastic reviewers on this site only in hope of encouraging others to listen. It's reputation is enough to make many curious to give it a try. The album is largely acoustic as was much of Love's early recordings , and while Love's lead guitarist John Echols does let loose here and there don't expect anything like what the Jimi Hendrix Experience or Cream were serving up at the time. I believe the albums strength is in the lyrics of Lee and Maclean and the unique way they are delivered. The approach is not verse chorus verse. There is a lot being said on these songs as befits performers who have something to say and want to say it in the normally constrictive confines of a rock and roll album. It doesn't matter if every line is not the most profound statement. Lee was writing about what he knew (alienation ) or what others related to him ( soldiers home from Vietnam telling him blood mixed with mud turns grey in color ). As has been mentioned here, Lee has said he believed this album was " his last words to the planet ". It is a psychedelic album in a sense but that label alone is too limiting. Roger Waters used to get annoyed when Pink Floyd's music was described as being about "outer space"- it was all about "inner space", he said . In the end the best recommendation you can give a recording is the staying power it has. I've listened to this album far too many times to accurately know and I never get tired of it, I'm quite sure I never will.
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 11 April 2008
This one has been on my desert island list since 1967. It is an acoustic/ electric/ mariachi/ flamenco/ psychedelic classic of the highest order. Every moment is glorious and no drugs needed.
A couple of months after my wife died in 2002, Arthur Lee came to Newcastle with the final incarnation of Love - just when I needed him most. I saw the 'Forever Changes' gig in 2003 and in 2004 I took my new (and continuing) love to see Love at Newcastle University. The place was packed with undergraduates and 50-somethings. The kids new all the words!
In his final years Arthur Lee and Love performed brilliantly and he was a contender for the title of 'Coolest Man on the Planet'. Buy both the studio and the live version of this album.
Thank you Arthur Lee wherever you are now.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
"And if you see Andmoreagain, then you will know Andmoreagain
For you can see you in her eyes
Then you feel your heart beating, bom-bom-bom-bom"
I`m pretty sure that`s what the late Arthur Lee is singing, but I couldn`t begin to tell you what it means, or who or what Andmoreagain is or might be. What`s more, I`m not sure I ever want to know. So many of the lyrics on Forever Changes are elliptical - occasionally two voices even sing different words at the same time, which is a neat trick no other band seems to have since tried - that they remain pleasingly, mystifyingly intriguing.
There aren`t many albums that are unique, in that they sound like nothing else, breaking the mould not only of their time, but for all time. I think of Astral Weeks, Marquee Moon, Trout Mask Replica, `The Band` and one or two of Neil Young`s early ones. Forever Changes is a one-off, it`s the one-off to end them all. Love`s previous album, the brilliant Da Capo, gave little notice of the jaw-dropping wonders to come a mere few months later, and their following albums tended to be something of a letdown (though Four Sail has its moments).
How can anyone adequately describe this music, especially to one who may not have heard it yet (oh lucky listener)? It is mournful mariachi folk... it`s acoustic soul... it`s off the wall eclectic LA rock-folk... Get the picture? No, of course not.
I can`t remember exactly how I felt when I first heard this on its release, at the age of 16 or 17, but after 45 years it still sounds fresh as paint, still unlike anything else. It`s never been something I play too often, but when I`m in the mood for it there`s nothing else that quite fits the bill. Each word, note, phrase, has the weird inevtability of music that must surely have been around - forever.
I`m winging this review, because if I really told you how I feel about this incredible music I`d lapse into overwrought language such as - well, incredible, awe-inspiring, wondrous, stunning...
Alone Again Or is easily the most famous song - the only famous song - on FC, and is still one of the most iconic songs from its decade, along with She`s Not There, The Letter, Groovin`, Monday Monday, Waterloo Sunset...to pick a random few. It wasn`t even written or sung by Arthur Lee, but was the work of Bryan MacLean (now sadly gone too), one of the band`s three guitarists. He also wrote and sings lead on another track, the hesitantly tender Old Man.
The rest is pure Lee. If you think REM have strange lyrics (when you can make them out!) then listen to Love. But it isn`t the words that hit you between the eyes, though they help, but the oddly bittersweet, often acoustic music coming through the speakers. There`d been nothing like FC before, with trumpets suddenly taking over for a lead break rather than guitar, soaring orchestral arrangements behind an unlikely rock band...see what I mean? Words fail me.
You get a terrific booklet with this, and seven extra tracks, including an alternate mix of Alone Again Or - what a remarkable song it is! - and both sides of
a superb single, Your Mind And We Belong Together/Laughing Stock, which I remember buying, for about ten shillings in those days.
The whole thing is one of the most essential albums of the era. I`ve been listening to it as I type this, after too long away from its wayward charms, excited all over again by this mad, dazzling, unpredictable, unexpected music.
Bring Forever Changes into your life.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 1 February 2004
If any criticism could be levelled at Love's first two albums it would be that the first album was too disparate a collection of songs, and that half of da Capo, their second album, comprises a long boring self-indulgent jam (Revelations).
On Forever Changes, however, everything comes together. Every song on Forever Changes belongs on this album and nowhere else - such is this album's and Love's unique sound. The band's sound is also expanded by a range of horns. On some of the tracks (e.g. Alone Again Or) if you close your eyes and listen, you could be in some downtown Mexican suburb listening to a mariachi band... Some people may find the horns over the top. Me, I love them.
Lee's song-writing (and that of his co-pilot Bryan Maclean) also scales new heights on Foreover Changes. But it's not just the song structures, interesting as they are, but Lee's lyrics. These are bizarre, obscure, witty, but never throw away. No doubt their meaning has been the source of many a drunken bar-room conversation.
Pick up any of the band's first three albums - Love, da Capo or Forever Changes and you will find a rich selection of quality songs. How would I classify them? Hmmmm, that's difficult. Slightly Byrds-ish, slightly Doors-ish, slightly Beefheart-ish, slightly Flying Burritos-ish, slightly folk-rockish with a latin twist... Really, though, they created their own distinctive sound... Love are unique - thanks in large part to Lee's distinctive voice, lyrics and song arrangements. Because of this you may not find them an instant 'hit', but if you do fall for their sound, I think you'll find them a life-long love.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2003
Well… here’s a problem: an indispensable late 60’s album that is regularly rated in industry polls as amongst the best of all time for good reasons, one of which is that the original record just flowed from start to finish. So, now we have an excellent digital re-mastering that enhances the original tracks by fully revealing their extraordinary intricacies – particularly the group’s use of multiple acoustic guitars – but which also includes seven bonus tracks that range from the intriguing to the essential.
The problem?… well, a key feature of the original LP was its sequencing with side two building-up to the final ecstatic fade out on it’s last cut – “You Set the Scene” – leaving the listener, quite deliberately, to reflect in the silence that followed. On this version there’s not much time for reflection before being jarred back into reality by bonus tracks that weren’t on the original because they weren’t good enough, weren’t recorded yet or didn’t fit. And, while there’s nothing wrong with “Laughing Stock” and the fabulous “Your Mind And We Belong Together” and, for Love fans, real interest in the other alternate mixes and unreleased workouts that have been added to this version, the truth is that they shouldn’t be there! Subtle but important stuff when dealing with a carefully crafted masterpiece. The solution?… program your CD player to stop after track 11, but it’s a pain to remember and, for first time recruits, an unlikely event.
Here’s an idea: with “classic” records that deserve this kind of meticulous re-mastering (and which have usually been elevated to such high status precisely because they worked so well as a unified whole) why not put the bonus tracks on a separate disk – the cost can’t be that great and the benefits would be enormous. In the meantime have your programming finger at the ready to savour the full impact of this magnificent slice of musical genius.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 5 October 2005
Barely denting the charts when released in late 1967, Forever Changes has become heralded as an absolute classic and is in the Top 100 (at least!) of any Top Albums poll once cares to mention.
The secret of its continued success is down to several factors, the main ones probably being its excellent songs and beautiful arrangements. Arthur Lee's songs are idiosyncratic, unconventional but memorable pieces, often not formulaic verse-chrous-verse affairs. They are backed by the band - usually by superb intricate acoustic picking with occasional bursts of electric lead - then augmented further by brilliant string and brass arrangements. The result is a sound as big and pioneering as that of other innovative albums of the time such as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band and Pet Sounds.
A major difference between those LPs and Forever Changes though is the occasional social comment and overall sense of dread in Lee's lyrics. No other album quite captures the mixture of beauty and despair of 1967 in the United States quite like this masterpiece.
All of the songs featured are good though particular highlights for me are the lush Good Humour Man, foreboding Red Telephone and grand finale which is You Set The Scene. The LP's most famous song, the excellent, oft-covered Alone Again Or is one of two songs written by rhythm guitarist Bryan MacLean - all of the others are by the talented Mr Lee.
This remastered and expanded version of Forever Changes includes seven extra tracks and alternative versions. One of the most interesting of these pieces is Wonder People which has a riff similar to Tom Jones' It's Not Unusual. The only fully recorded song from the Forever Changes sessions which didn't feature on the original album, one can only assume that Arthur considered it too jolly for the mood of the LP.
Forever Changes is a superbly arranged masterpiece which demands repeated listening to this day. An absolute classic which is a must for any serious music fan's collection.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 15 January 2011
I bought this as soon as it came out, I went into a record shop in Manchester on my way home from school, it had just come in and they were playing it in the shop. It just blew me away and and it still does after decades of listenings. Some can't stomach the string arrangements or the touches of brass: not the usual settings for progressive rock bands - I saw Love when they toured the UK in the early 70s and they were loud, venemous and very Hendrix inspired, not at all like the sound of Forever Changes. But the string arrangements here work if you let them. Focus on the songs and the lyrics and then you start to appreciate the subtleties of the arrangements: the Red Telephone for example is such a clever song and the whole arrangement all fits together so beautifully. Just one example in a whole complete collection of cleverly crafted songs that are endlessly fascinating to study.
I don't just listen to 60s music, I've been collecting albums right up to now, but I have to be honest, very few are up to the standard of this one. Certainly one of the best 60s albums, up there with Highway 61 and Sgt Pepper.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Another iconic album from the psychedelic era of sixties rock. This really creative album sounds fabulous on CD. It was the third album from the group Love.
Like so many albums of the late sixties this album failed to get its deserved respect at the time of its release. It didn't do well in America but did better in the UK. There were no hit singles but the most familiar song maybe the first track Alone Again Or,with its great harmony arrangement.
It is only years after that it has and can be seen as a brilliant piece of pop history. It has iconic elements of the psychedelic era and outstanding creativity.
The album is just great even though the group had suffered changes after the previous albums.
There is great sound texture with acoustic sections. Orchestral parts, guitars horns and strings. It is psychedelic but it is also Rock and pop. The album has much insight into the true nature of life.
There are wonderful lyrics and great harmonies. This is a true masterpiece so badly over looked by the mainstream of pop.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2003
While not an obvious choice for best album of all time on your first listen, 'Forever Changes' has steadily grown into a timeless classic for me, personally.
Arthur Lee's songs are coated with an urgency which is certainly not apparent until you understand the lyrics. While Lee pulls no punches, the songs themselves are tied up in lilting melodies and memorable moments. Could you call this album 'psychadelic'? I think a better description could be 'apocalyptic' upon hearing songs like the fantastic centrepiece 'The Red Telephone' and the gritty 'A House Is Not A Motel'. But in saying that, these songs are balanced by delicate moments such as 'Old Man' and 'Andmoreagain'. Forever Changes, indeed.
This album comes highly recommended and will appeal to any fan of rock n roll, despite not sounding like a rock n roll album. Lee was a paranoid visionary with plenty of ideas and fears to infuse his songs: after deciding that he was going to die in 1967 he decided to put his final words to music, ultimately reflected in this album. The result has sent a ghostly ripple through rock and roll which is still being felt today. Simply put, this is an album that must be heard and perservered with; the genius is only really apparent after a few listens. But boy, it sure is worth the effort.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 3 July 2008
I really don't want to write this review, I know I won't be able to do this album justice!
So let's be short and sweet. Everything about this album is definitively rock and roll. The band had almost self destructed, Arthur Lee thought his time was up, Neil Young pulled out of producing after one track, the art work is instantly recognisable and it has never had the universal success to match its critical acclaim.
As for the songs, where do I start? Stylistically varying from rock to funk to folk to world, the music is a tour-de-force, each song a masterpiece. The bands 'other' songwriter, Bryan Maclean's two offerings are as good as anythign Lee pens, and fit in perfectly.
I just can't do it justice, you'll just have to listen yourself. If you have all the time in world, maybe you could sum it up?
As for the bonus tracks - other than Lee shouting at Echols guitar solo effort - each is worth it's place, especially Your Mind and We Belong Together, which could be a highlight to any album ever written!