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Love Blue Thumb Reissues

05/10/2008
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The following story was part of the Day in Rock Report for 5/11/08 - (conqueroo) They recorded one of the most influential albums of the late '60s in the folk-rocking Forever Changes, an album that took 20 years to be fully appreciated and has been recently reissued in a deluxe edition. But the band Love, fronted by tortured genius Arthur Lee, switched musical gears almost immediately after recording its masterpiece. Lee recruited a whole new Love to record the both band's final Elektra album, Four Sail, and its 1969 Blue Thumb double-album debut, Out Here. With a change of guitarists and the recruitment of Jimi Hendrix on one track, Love followed with False Start in 1970. The two Blue Thumb albums will be reissued for the first time on CD by Collectors' Choice Music on June 10, 2008.

The new lineup Lee recruited after Forever Changes included Jay Donnellan, guitar; Frank Fayad, bass; and George Suranovich, who curiously hailed from doo-wop origins, on drums. Donnellan had brought an acoustic guitar to his audition only to be told that Love no longer sounded like that. However, fans of Forever Changes and its predecessors, Love and Da Capo, will discover stray echoes of the classic Love sound amidst Out Here's 17 tracks, namely "Willow Willow," "Listen To My Song" and "Gather Round." Additionally, hard blues-based rock entered the mix on this album, including a heavier version of "Signed D.C." from Love's debut. Out Here, recorded in a shabby home studio just beneath Laurel Canyon in Hollywood, included such songs as "Abalony," "I'll Pray For You," "Instra-Mental" and "Car Lights On in the Daytime." And there's some reassurance to be had that Lee still had a song title in him like "Love is More Than Words or Better Late Than Never."

Following only four months after the band's final Elektra album, Four Sail, was released, Out Here peaked at #176 on Billboard's album chart. Sales might have improved had the band accepted an offer to play a freestanding show on the East Coast. Lee reportedly told his booking agent, "No, I don't want to go to New York for one f***ing gig!" The gig was Woodstock.

On tour in England to promote Out Here, the band recorded two tracks that would appear on its 1970 follow-up album, False Start. It was in the U.K. also that Lee reconnected with Jimi Hendrix, whom he had met when Hendrix played lead on an obscure single Lee had written (Rosa Lee Brooks' "My Diary"). Hendrix dropped into the apartment where the band was staying in London and Lee suggested they jam and see what might come of it. The result was "The Everlasting First," a tune co-written by Lee and Hendrix with Hendrix on guitar, which leads off the album. Overall, False Start is a more cohesive album than Out Here, while still very much eclectic with country-rock ("Keep On Shining"), '70s boogie ("Flying"), psychedelic soul ("Stand Out," "Anytime") and many points in between.

Recorded at Los Angeles' Record Plant, False Start featured nearly the same band as Out Here with the exception of Gary Rowles replacing the outspoken Jay Donnellan on guitar. The album received a glowing review in Rolling Stone by Metal Mike Saunders, who wrote: "Arthur Lee is now a good and unaffected singer, having both a soft and screaming voice . . . [his] songs are engaging in their simple structure, this album is engaging as a whole, and I think I could rave on all day saying wonderful things about it." Despite such praise, the long-player stalled at #184 on Billboard's album chart. Through a combination of further personnel changes and encroaching substance abuse problems, this was the final Love album with this lineup.

Arthur Lee joined with power-pop band Baby Lemonade to perform Forever Changes in 2003 in a cross-country tour. He died of cancer in 2006.

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