Though live material from Arthur Lee’s brilliant rock band Love was in short supply for decades, the situation has changed in recent years. You’ll still have trouble finding much from the lineup that issued Love’s classic quartet of early albums between 1966 and 1969; but the good news is that group prime mover Arthur Lee—who died of cancer in 2006—performed Love’s material with a fine new outfit beginning in 1993 and, sometimes, the tapes were rolling.
The result: such superb releases as 2005’s The Forever Changes Concert (on both CD and DVD), on which the band, augmented by a string and horn section, perform every track from their trippy, melody-drenched third album. More recently, 2015 witnessed the release of the four-disc Coming Through to You—The Live Recordings 1970-2004, which embraces songs from throughout the group’s career. And now we have Complete Forever Changes Live, a second concert recording, again with strings and horns—of the album that many critics (this one included) consider one of the best releases of the entire rock era.
In the liner notes for Complete Forever Changes Live, which was recorded at UK’s Glastonbury Festival in 2003, Love guitarist Mike Randle recalls a gig where only three people showed up—one of whom was the sound guy—and there was only one microphone. “Play like it’s a million people out there,” Lee instructed the band and, says Randle, they did.
That’s the kind of guy that Lee was: as passionate as he was inventive—and both characteristics are on full display at the Glastonbury gig, where the audience numbered upwards of 65,000. Forever Changes gets a knockout performance, as do two bonus tracks, “Your Mind and We Belong Together,” the brilliant final single from the original Love lineup; and “7 & 7 Is,” a high-octane highlight of Da Capo, the group’s second LP.
Perhaps you’re wondering which of these live sets you should buy first. Wrong question. If I were you, I’d be asking myself how soon I could own them all.
Raven and Red, We Rise Up. Raven and Red, a Nashville-based trio, look young in the cover photo here, and it turns out they are: one of them is actually still in high school. No matter—vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Brittany Jones and brothers Mitchell Lane (vocals and guitars) and Cole King (who plays mandolin)—all already have impressive musical resumes and, more importantly, a ton of talent. On their first full-length album of original material, their harmony vocals are gorgeous throughout, and so are their melodies and violin-, banjolin-, and mandolin-spiced instrumentation, which draws on folk, country, pop, and bluegrass. I’m reminded of such late 60s/early 70s groups as Swampwater and Linda Ronstadt’s Stone Poneys.
Dinosaur Eyelids, Left Turn on Red. This is the fifth album from the New Jersey-based quartet Dinosaur Eyelids and their first since 2014. I almost bailed out on the disc after the first four tracks, which struck me as run-of-the-mill heavy metal, but I’m glad I didn’t, because things got much more interesting after that. “L.A. Lady” is an infectious mid-tempo number that would fit right into a playlist with tracks by the Faces and the 1970s-era Stones. Then there’s the harmonica-spiced “Whiskey,” an acoustic drinking ballad; “No Money Blues,” a likably anachronistic folk-rocker; and “More Than Nothing,” which boasts head-turning guitar work. Sometimes it pays to stick around.
Various Artists, Big Bend Killing: The Appalachian Ballad Tradition. This two-CD set presents new recordings of songs from Appalachia, many of which date back hundreds of years and have roots in the British Isles. The best-known performer is Rosanne Cash, who delivers “The Parting Glass” and “Barbara Allen.” (The latter is the only one of the 32 tracks that has been previously released.) Other names on the bill—including Martin Simpson, Alice Gerrard, and Jody Stecher—will be familiar to fans of this genre. The musically powerful and lyrically fascinating program features compositions you’ll know, such as “Pretty Polly,” “John Henry,” and “Wreck of the Old 97,” plus relative obscurities like the title cut. The thick booklet that accompanies the set contains photos of the performers; personnel credits, recording info, and lyrics for each track; and a Grammy-nominated essay on Appalachian balladry and notes on every song by producer Ted Olson.
Jeff Burger's website, byjeffburger.com, contains more than four decades' worth of music reviews and commentary. His latest book, Bob Dylan on Bob Dylan: Interviews and Encounters, is set for publication in May 2018. His earlier books include Lennon on Lennon: Conversations with John Lennon, Leonard Cohen on Leonard Cohen: Interviews and Encounters, and Springsteen on Springsteen: Interviews, Speeches, and Encounters.