Once More Again

If you thought the '60s band Love should have been famous, here's a second chance

Forever Changes, the seminal 1967 album by the tragically underappreciated band Love, is one of those "Why the hell didn't this make them famous?" records. It is one of those discs you want to listen to all the way through as you lie in bed in the dark, one you play so often you feel you should send the label more money. Though Forever Changes perennially pops up on those Top 10 Albums of All Time lists in music magazines, only those fans who have mined an exceptionally deep vein of '60s rock have ever heard it.

In many ways Love scotched its own chances. A homegrown success in L.A., the band was a hard sell outside California in the mid-'60s: Its songs swung from folk to rock to mariachi, and its pre-Hendrix groovy black singer sounded more like a Byrds-era David Crosby than Marvin Gaye. Worse still were Love's internal struggles -- bandmates who came and went, nasty drug problems, frontman Arthur Lee's psychological difficulties and peculiar on- and offstage antics.

Love broke up less than a year after releasing Changes, which in spite of the turmoil remains a seamlessly brilliant piece of work. In the band's trademark style, the mood shifts from psychedelia to pop to jazz; Latin horns blare here, sweet strings swell there. And absolutely nothing -- from the flamenco stunner "AndMoreAgain" to the alienated pre-punk of "A House Is Not a Motel" to the spine-chilling love song "Old Man" -- sounds quite like anything you've heard before.

Love back in its '60s glory days.
Love back in its '60s glory days.

Details

9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 16

Admission is $30

885-0750

www. musichallsf.com

Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F.

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After weathering a particularly bad stretch in the '90s (including a prison stay), Lee gathered a youthful new group of players and hit the road again to polish up Love's cult-classic status. At "The Forever Changes Concert," Lee and company play the masterwork in its entirety. It's a splendid tribute to an album that was truly ahead of its time, one that we hope has found its milieu at last.

 
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