Arthur Lee and Love 2004 at Town Hall in NYC with Mike Randall
The legendary Arthur Lee is not dead. The leader of
Love, the magical California band, that issued one of the greatest albums ever, ‘Forever Changes,’ is resurfacing in various American cities with a revamped version of the band.
Love and the Zombies played on the same bill at
Town Hall in NYC on October 13th 2004. Love was stunningly contemporary, especially with Mike Randall, the dread-locked lead guitarist rocking out masterful improvisations of a Love genre-sound of guitar. Arthur Lee was actually there, leading the effort, playing harp, and guitar, and singing in his vibrato revolutionary style.
The entire band was terrific. But Mike Randall was
what made the evening something far beyond expectations, moreso even than just seeing Arthur Lee in person. Randall must have been a Love fan since childhood. I can imagine him memorizing the tunes of the band note for note. And then when it came time for him to improvise off the basic riffs and melody, his riffs, sound and energy were fantastic.
Love should definitely release a live album of how they are playing right now. It will launch them right back into the forefront of the best music of 2004 if they play on it like they did on October 13th at Town Hall.
There is a new 5 song CD just released, but it must have been recorded before the songs were well known by the newly conjoined band. ‘Rainbow In A Storm’ was amazing when Mike Randall soared off into a tropical rainforest of electric guitar ecstacy, but on the CD it is rather tame and slightly square. ‘Message To Pretty’ is lovely on the CD, but a little measured. Live it was about 6 minutes long and tingled with beauty and clean vibrant inspired notes.
Just in case you are too young to know, ‘Forever Changes’ was an album that most music critics used to pick amongst their top ten albums to take to a desert island. But today’s pickers have forgotten about it. All ten songs on it are classics, with poetic magical lyrics and surprising reverberations, chants, melodies of exaltation, all songs being wonderful high level compositions that many fans have listened to over and over again experiencing different nuances of pleasure with each listen. Many of these songs were performed in slightly new arrangements at Town Hall on October 13th.
Arthur Lee was a legendary figure when Love peaked, sort of in the realm of Jimi Hendrix. Though, of course, not a guitar player like probably the best electric guitarist to ever live – Jimi, I mean. Actually, these 2 were recorded together on the same album when Mr. Hendrix decided to participate in about the fifth album Love recorded. But this adventure, immortalized on vinyl chloride, remains obscure to this day.
Both Hendrix and Lee wrote unpredictable literate prophetic lyrics, along with their different types of tunerage and instrumentation. Go buy ‘Forever Changes’ – you will not regret it.
The Zombies followed Love, but they weren’t quite at the same level of energy or vitality. Colin Blunstone, the lead singer, who has a lovely breathy voice, and has recorded several solo albums, was pushed just a little too much by the organist, leader of the Zombies, Rod Argent. They did do ‘Hold Your Head Up High’ as the height of their set, and ‘She’s Not There’ and ‘Tell Her No,’ – – the two most famous 1960’s Zombies tunes.
And ‘Time of The Season,’ which is the most commonly known Zombies song of music listeners today, has also become the biggest seller of all the band’s songs. Mr. Blunstone has become a bit blowsy and sentimental on stage, as he spreads his palms wide during his performance. Check his solo albums though if you want to hear some beautiful singing, without the rush of Mr. Argent urging him faster and harder.
Rod Argent is still a masterful keyboard musician. But I don’t think his or the Zombies’ time will come again, like Love’s time could >> if they record that solo album NOW! before they lose their zeal for playing Mr. Lee’s magical music.
November 6, 2004 Copyright Conrad Miller M.D.