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"...Coloured Balls Falling..." – Love by LOVE (2001 Elektra Expanded CD – Andrew Sandoval, Dan Hersch and Bill Inglot Remasters)
on 20 September 2015
By common consensus West Coast 'Rock Music' began for the formerly Folk-orientated Elektra Records with the self-titled debut of LOVE - issued onto a rapidly changing musical landscape in the Summer of 1966 in a snazzy new non-paste-back sleeve (the first of its kind apparently). Yet in 2015 (and fast approaching a staggering 50-year distance) – that quietly momentous achievement is all but forgotten now - and of course overshadowed even further by the band's more illustrious follow-ups - "Da Capo" (January 1967) and especially "Forever Changes" (November 1967 USA, February 1968 UK). Time to re-examine that extraordinary beginning methinks - presented to us here in real style on this cool little 2001 Expanded CD Remaster. Here are the little red details...
UK released October 2001 – "Love" by LOVE on Elektra/Warner Strategic Marketing 8122 73567-2 (Barcode 081227356729) is an Expanded CD Remaster that offers both the Mono and Stereo mix of the LP as well as two bonus tracks (one Previous Unreleased). It plays out as follows (77:54 minutes):
1. My Little Red Book
2. Can't Explain
3. A Message To Pretty
4. My Flash On You
5. Softly To Me
6. No Mater What You Do
8. You'll Do The Following [Side 2]
10. Hey Joe
11. Signed D.C.
12. Coloured Balls Falling
13. Mushroom Clouds
14. And More
Tracks 1 to 14 are the MONO MIX of their debut album "Love" – released July 1966 in the USA on Elektra EKL-4001 (September 1966 in the UK on the same catalogue number)
Tracks 15 to 28 are the STEREO MIX of their debut album "Love" on Elektra EKS-74001 (release dates as above)
29. Number 14 – the non-album B-side to "7 And 7 Is" – a stand-alone 45 issued August 1966 in the USA on Elektra EK 45605 and September 1966 in the UK on London HLZ 10073.
It made No. 33 in the USA – didn't chart UK.
30. Signed D.C. – Alternative Version, Previously Unissued
The 12-page booklet has jam-packed liner notes by ANDREW SANDOVAL that stretches their story from Arthur Lee's early incarnation of the band as The Grass Roots (changed their name to Love after the other Grass Roots hit the charts) on into the 21 hours it took to record the album on then onwards to its release by Elektra in the Summer of 1966 (eventually rose to 57 on the American LP charts – didn’t chart in the UK). The reissue is dedicated to Guitarist and Vocalist BRYAN MacLEAN and Bassist KEN FORSSI (ex Surfaris) who both passed away in 1998. Inbetween the dense text (which includes quotes from original producer Jac Holzman and guitarist Johnny Eccles) are fantastic repro picture sleeves of French EPs and Italian Picture Sleeves of "My Little Red Book" - a Bacharach David song also covered by Manfred Mann (it was Love's debut 45 in March 1966).
But the big news is Sound Production and Remastering by a trio of trusted names – ANDREW SANDOVAL and long-time Rhino associates DAN HERSCH and BILL INGLOT. This CD sounds incredible on 'both' mixes. Original Co-Producer JAC HOLZMAN (the album was Engineered by BRUCE BOTNIK) is said to have favoured the STEREO mix – but what’s noticeable here is the marked differences between the two. If I was to sum up - the faster songs have more attack on the Mono variant - but the more melodic pieces are quitely beautiful in the Stereo transfer.
Heavily influenced by the sound of The Byrds both "My Little Red Book" and "Can't Explain" set the jangling-guitar tone of the album. The Stereo stage on "Can't Explain" is very marked but the guitars seem more lost in the mix than the more straightforward punch of the Mono version. I love the Stereo take on the gorgeous "A Message To Pretty" – the Audio is beautifully clear and Arthur Lee’s wobbling vocal is right out front. The choppy guitar of "My Flash On You" is again twice as powerful to my ears on the Stereo version as he roars "...all I want in this world is to be free..." – and when he goes into that fuzzed-up solo rammed right over to the left channel – it properly rocks.
"Softly To Me" is the first real sign to me of the band’s genius coming through – not slavish to the Byrds or The Lovin' Spoonful – it's Love finding their strange melodic way. Issued as a 45 on Elektra Records EKSN 45016 in the UK (pictured on Page 10 of the booklet) – it’s a gorgeous and tuneful Bryan MacLean song (his first lead vocal on the album - "Hey Joe" is the second). We're back to angst with Lee's "No Matter What You Do" while the co-write with Johnny Eccles on the Duane Eddy-ish instrumental "Emotions" is again a blinding track and I think one of the album's great unsung heroes (once more I'm favouring the Stereo take – beautifully transferred from the tapes). Side 1 ends with the very Byrds "You I'll Be Following" – another potential single.
I've never liked their frantic version of "Hey Joe" (written by Dino Valenti of Quicksilver Messenger Service and of course made famous by Jimi Hendrix). Far better is the "...my soul belongs to the dealer..." aching masterpiece of "Signed D.C." – and again that haunting Harmonica sounds stunning in the Stereo mix especially. The song is about Love's Drummer Don Conka who deteriorated from California girls and a happy-go-lucky lifestyle into heavy drug addiction. Lee would return to the song on "Out Here" in 1970 but in heavier Steppenwolf's "The Pusher" mode while the bare bones Alternate Take (Track 30) of "Signed D.C." is one of the highlights on this CD – chilling stuff.
Some say Love's debut album is a derivative of The Byrds – and I suppose in some respects many of Arthur Lee's early songs are. But that emerging songwriting brilliance was already there and would come to full fruition with the "Da Capo" and "Forever Changes" albums that followed. I still think it's fabulous stuff and in places shockingly moving (even after nearly 50 years).
If you want some 60ts cool and an earful of a genuinely innovative and ahead-of-its-time debut album then "Love" is a must buy. And well done to all at Rhino for getting the Audio so beautifully right on both versions...