Friday, March 01, 2013

Even More Love

Yes, I am obsessed...more Arthur Lee from 2003. A brilliant performance of 2 pieces from his 1967 classic recording, Forever Changes. The Red Telephone and Live and Let Live....
Both pieces have haunted me for years. I actually performed Live and Let Live a few times in a solo setting on acoustic guitar in the 1980's. The band backing up Lee when he did this rather heroic "recovery" project is Baby Lemonade. Lee was diagnosed with Leukemia and in treatment at the time and died just a few years later. The Red Telephone is perhaps what you might call a psychedelic ballad, and no one ever wrote stuff like this as brilliantly as he did. In an interview, years later, Lee stated that at the time he wrote this stuff, he was convinced he would be dead in a few months. The record itself is a magnificent opus, as if he was trying to outdo the Beatles in scope and vision. The music is unique as it is the ultimate west coast pop experience, mariachi horn arrangements with expansive almost symphonic orchestration. Lee made some great recordings later and actually collaborated with Jimi Hendrix. I met him in Detroit when Love played at the Grande Ballroom in 1968 and saw the toll his vision had exacted on him. He seemed like a man who was trying to live out his death wish .The spiral continued and he ended up living a nightmare of violence and drugs which culminated in a prison term for illegal weapons, but when he was released in the mid 90's, he was a man possessed with reclaiming his legacy and this video is a testimony to the labor of Love he undertook and the Love his music inspired in his supporters. As I said earlier, Arthur Lee was one of the most important musical influences on my young life. His work was too intelligent, too hip....he was too cool and tragically too black to be allowed to succeed in the world of white corporate pop.

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