Friday, August 04, 2006

Arthur Lee (1945-2006)

Play it: Arthur Lee (in under 30 min)
Sitting on a hillside
Watching all the people die
I'll feel much better on the other side.

- "The Red Telephone" Love (Arthur Lee)
Following closely on the heals of fellow psycedelic legend Syd Barrett, Arthur Lee died yesterday after battling an acute leukemia.

Arthur Lee was one of the more volatile and charasmatic frontmen of his era, and he and his Love bandmates were addled with drug addictions, prison sentences and some bad luck.

Their first three albums were important recordings in the psycedelic canon, particularly their third, Forever Changes, which many consider to be the greatest psycedelic album of all time. Lee was in a lot of trouble at the time (legend has him as a street hustler before his music career was launched) and a lot of the music reflected impending doom. "When I did that album," commented Arthur Lee, "I thought I was going to die at that particular time, so those were my last words."

While Lee lived on, his career was never the same. He disappeared almost entirely in the 80's (much like his troubled-genius cohorts Syd Barrett and Brian Wilson) only to emerge in France recording new material and playing live shows around '92 (Play an interview from '92.) In '96, however, his comeback was thwarted by a 'three strikes' offense, and he spent the next 5 years in prison. He quickly regrouped upon release and reunited with the surviving members of Love for a tour, followed by a special reissue of Forever Changes. Lee left (or was kicked out of) Love, later citing his illness (found out to be leukemia) as the ultimate reason for his departure. Several benefits were performed to aid lee with medical expenses, and featured a diverse set of performers like Robert Plant, Ryan Adams, Yo La Tengo and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

The playlist above is just a sample of Lee's genius, and really, if he'd only recorded the album Forever Changes, he'd still be considered legendary. Awhile ago, I started a project called Artists in Under 30 Minutes, to try and counter my penchant for long playlists by boiling these puppies even further down. It never went anywhere, but this was one from the (small) stable.

Video:
Love performing "Alone Again Or" from 2003
Promo spot for single "Your Mind and We Belong Together"
Love on AMC performing "A Message to Pretty"
Love performing "Little Red Book" on some British variety show

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1 comment:

drake leLane said...

Arthur Lee (in under 30 min)

* "My Little Red Book" - Love
* "Hey Joe" - Love
* "Signed D.C." - Love
* "Seven & Seven Is" - Love
* "Stephanie Knows Who" - Love
* "Orange Skies" - Love
* "Alone Again Or" - Love
* "Andmoreagain" - Love
* "The Red Telephone" - Love
* "Bummer In The Summer" - Love