MACUILXOCHITL: Five Flower”, the Aztec god of music and dance
Known as one of the best folk-rock/psychedelic bands to emerge form the Los Angeles music scene in the mid-sixties, Love, was also one of the first integrated rock groups, led by singer/songwriter/guitarist Arthur Lee. The band proceeded their eventually more famous fellow Los Angelinos, the Doors, being one of the first rock and roll band signed to Elektra records. The label had recently enlisted early versions of the Byrds and the Lovin’ Spoonful. Jim Morrison and company was later courted by the label, as well and he often referred to Lee and Love as being a source of inspiration to the Doors. Perhaps having equal potential for wide-acceptance and fame, Lee and Love absolutely refused to tour on a large scale until well past the group’s popularity peak thus cementing their immediate future and limiting the band’s reach to a larger audience .
The group’s debut appeared in 1966 and included original material and a cover which became a first hit of sorts. The Burt Bacharach song “My Little Red Book,” was included and was sot up with a heavy dose of punk attitude which would also later serve to propel another classic Love song, trier sole Top 40 hit, 1967’s “7 and 7 Is,” for the Da Capo record. Also on the record, the entire second side, was a nineteen minute jam once again demonstrating Lee’s ability to proceed rock trends.
Unfortunately, however, the group also was inclined toward partaking in the festivities a bit too much and was in such sad shape at one point, apparently, that Elektra planned to record their third album with session men backing either Lee or guitarist Brian Maclean (on his compositions). The band’s third release, Forever Changes, was initially started in that fashion, but the group pulled itself together to make what many critics call the greatest rock records ever recorded. Commercial success, however was very limited, although somewhat more significant in England, and the band’s demise was eminent. The group went through a few transformations and released more recorded as did Lee as a solo artist, but the life of Love had ended...at least for that era.
Today, Arthur Lee finds himself, re-energized with an incredible group of talented musicians, members of Los Angeles’ power-pop outfit, Baby Lemonade, forming his new Love. The group has toured England numerous times over the past few years along with Spain, Ireland, Australia, and the united States. The English-based Snapper Records has recently released Forever Changes Live, a documentation of Love with ‘Arthur Lee’s version’s of the classic album. It’s an amazing recreation of the legendary disc. The album is set for American release in September with a DVD version to follow soon.
The group will perform at this year’s Street Scene on Friday, September 5.
La Prensa and Macuilxochitl’s Kiva were privy to an exclusive interview with current Love lead guitarist, Mike Randle. What follows is a driect transcription of the entire interview:
LP: What’s the significance of Arthur’s resurrection of sorts in today’s music scene?
MR: Well, I think, to some younger people (particularly ones that are in bands) who may have been too young when we played L.A. and Europe between93-96, Arthur has made that leap from ’mysterious legend’ to an outright, in the flesh rock and roller. When we played the Scala in London (April 29, 2003) as a five-piece, I saw a ton of people who you just KNEW were in bands.
I think they walked away learning a few lessons. Arthur gives you a SHOW, from first note to the last note. We try to keep the music fresh, tight and fun.
LP: What does it mean for you to be a part of “LOVE”?
MR: I am extremely proud of my contribution to this group, as is the rest of the guys, Rusty, Dave Chapple and David Green. I means more to me than I can put into words but, if I had to sum it up, I’d say it means I get to play some of the worlds greatest music, travel all over the world, meet wonderful people and make a living at it. I’m blessed, the way I see it.
LP: It’s often mentioned in old LOVE bios that the band was one of the scene’s first racially mixed bands. Was this important back then? Is it important now? To you to Arthur, to music fans, to the music industry?
Mike: It’s hard for me to assess the importance of it back then, as I wasn’t even born yet. But Arthur has always been proud of the diversity of his groups, all of them. Knowing him, he probably made a conscience effort to ‘mix it up’ as his way of breaking thru the obvious racism of the times and also sort of giving the music biz the finger; you know, I can be a success WITHOUT being a part of your formula!’ I mean, Arthur Lee is a true American success story. He really did work for it.
LP: What’s LOVE’s future, if any, in terms of tangibles (new recordings, tours...etc.) and
intangibles (messages, lessons...etc.) ?
MR: Well, we all realize how we need each other for the LOVE machine to roll properly. We are working on new songs for an upcoming new record as well as getting ready to tour behind the Forever Changes Concert CD that’s just been released in Europe (US release in a month or so.) I think any trouble
in the past associated with LOVE are truly a thing of the past. We are focused and the future appears very bright.
LP: With all of your experiences with Arthur and LOVE, what do you take away with you when it’s all said and done...or even now, today? What have you gained and/or learned?
MR: When it’s all said and done, I’d like to think I gave it everything I had and have absolutely no regrets. I take with me the feeling, experience and knowledge that I was a part of something very special and what we did brought many people joy and happiness.
LP: What keeps you grounded when it seems you’re being pulled in so many different directions with little time for yourselves, home, family, and friends?
MR: It’s very difficult sometimes. I think it’s a important to keep things in perspective and to not over-state your personal importance. I mean, at the end of the day, you are just a musician and there are more important issues in the world. It’s good idea to keep yourself humble because you never want to become one of those jerks who get popular and then act like a celebrity. When those people fall, they fall hard. So, I think a person shouldn’t take themselves TOO seriously. Enjoy what’s going on, keep your eyes on the road and your hands up on the wheel.