Having paid his debt to society, convicted felon Arthur Lee surprised all interested parties by returning to the music scene in the 90s more musically focused than he’d ever been. Having led the critical darlings Love in mid 60s Los Angeles, Lee had established a mystique around the band. Their music ran the gamut from punky anthems to airy psychedelia. “7 and 7 Is” was an assault on the senses, yet the tracks on the legendary Forever Changes LP evoked the sound of Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass tour bus colliding with a Buffalo Springfield. Yet the mercurial Lee refused to tour, even to play outside of L.A. in the group’s heyday. His erratic personality, coupled with the unbending “three-strikes and you’re out” laws meant a prison sentence for him, and most onlookers figured that would be that.
But Lee discovered LA popsters Baby Lemonade, a group with two parallels to Love: the group was multiracial, and they played muscular hooky pop with an arty bent. The BL duo signed on as, essentially, the new Love, thus assuming a role quite similar to another 90s LA pop group backing another troubled 60s legend from LA (Wondermints, Brian Wilson respectively). This collaboration has endured into the 21st century: the reinvigorated Love has toured Europe and the USA, performing Forever Changes in its entirety (the parallels continue: Brian Wilson wheeled out the complete Pet Sounds LP, and more recently the great lost 60s masterwork, SMiLE). But this set, a good-to-very-good audience recording from 1993, shows what can only be called an embryonic version of the new Love, running through their material. There’s a good selection from the first four Love albums (the ones that matter) plus a bit of new material that fits in well. The band is in top form, albeit without the later embellishments of strings and horns; this North Hampton show is more of a “club date” sort of gig. Well worth checking out.
Difficulty to Locate: 7 out of 10
General Listenability: 8 out of 10
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