Arthur Lee of Love dies at 61

Arthur Lee, the founder of the '60's cult band Love, died yesterday from leukemia at age 61. The troubled Lee did not attain much commercial success with his band, but he is regarded as a major influence on other rock veterans. Robert Plant has said that Love's 1968 album Forever Changes is one of his all-time favorite albums. Others who claimed a Lee influence include Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Syd Barrett. Lee must be receiving quite a hero's welcome somewhere.

Rolling Stone has a good article on Lee, with a playlist of essential Love tracks, here.

The first three Love albums are the only proper ones currently in print in the States: Love (1966), Da Capo (1967), and Forever Changes (1968). The best place to start is the 22-track compilation The Best of Love, which contains the essential songs from the first four albums. Those who want to investigate further should try Forever Changes. It is an odd but brilliant album which requires multiple listenings to fully appreciate. The first two albums are somewhat less impressive, but are still enduring specimens from their time. Love consists of Byrds-like folk-rock, while Da Capo stepped into psychedelia.

If you love those albums and want to go further, the fourth album Four Sail (1969) and the sixth album False Start (1970) are obtainable as imports. The U.K. CD Out There contains some tracks from the fifth album Out Here (1969), and some from False Start. Lee is the only original member of Love who plays on those albums. By that time, Love's sound became harder and less majestic.

Those who wish to splurge right off the bat might want to spring for the 2-CD set Love Story 1966-1972. It contains most of the tracks from the first two albums, all of the tracks from Forever Changes, and highlights from the next three albums. In other words, it provides all of the Love that most people will ever need.

I also recommend watching the DVD The Forever Changes Concert, which documents a live performance of the album by Lee and a new Love lineup, shortly after Lee's 2001 release from prison. Lee's performance was solid, and the backing musicians were faithful to the original material.