Forever Changes

Michael Stuart-Ware (drummer on LoVE's classic albums Da Capo and Forever Changes) and Johnny Echols (lead guitarist and co-founder of LoVE) have joined us here on the Forum to answer your questions about their time with LoVE.At this moment they are not active as members and are not answering questions but I'm proud to have them both aboard at The Freedom Man Forum!

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jamestkirk
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Forever Changes

Post by jamestkirk »

This for me is an endlessly interesting subject...since I listen to it more than any other album...period.

Have you gotten any closer to being able to listen to FC, at least to revisit it from time to time what with revising your book and all?-- or is it still a hard thing for you, and something to avoid....something that you can't get past.

It would change the feel of the album, but is it not possible to "correct" the "imperfections" that plagued the mastering (upping the drums, increasing the volume on the intro to Bryan's song-"Alone Again Or", that bothered Arthur too) and editing due to the limitations with the number of recording tracks... with the digital advances, can that not be "fixed"? Though I think FC is perfect!.

I personally prefer the analog ways and feel that you always get a warmer more immediate sound (though the number of tracks are unlimited either way). Dylan and so many others are returning to analog recording and forsaking digital methods, even though the final product is still mixed digitally.
"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music".

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MichaelStuart-Ware
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FC

Post by MichaelStuart-Ware »

I know that all the good things that people say and write about Forever Changes must be true, and I fully realize that the nuances that bother me about the recording are probably minor and silly, so we'll leave it at that.

The bottom line is, every musician (subconsciously at least) dreams of someday making music with musicians the caliber of Johnny Echols and Bryan MacLean and Kenny Forssi and Arthur Lee... music that is accepted by the critics and enriches the lives of those that listen to it and is considered, somehow "timeless.". I'm just very grateful to have achieved that goal.

"Perfect" is a beautiful word, because you know, that's what we all try for. Anything less is just a teeny-tiny disappointing. Maybe that's the problem. If there is one.
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Post by jamestkirk »

Forever Changes is PERFECT for me...and for everyone who loves it!

What is it the Amish say..."trying to achieve perfection is an insult to God"...so they purposely sew an imperfection into their quilts to stay humble.

Really, trying to achieve perfection is a fine goal, but will ultimately make one unhappy...as it is not possible.

Artists many times have trouble viewing or listening to something they have created....I can relate..
"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music".

-Aldous Huxley
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Johnny Echols
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Re-Mastering Forever Changes

Post by Johnny Echols »

The facts are, if the volume on the intro to "Alone Again" had been any louder, Bryan's "noisy" steel finger picks would have been a distraction.

Problems with Revelation aside, Paul Rothschild was an excellent
"Mastering" engineer. Who did one hell of a job, considering what he had to work with.

He was dealing with a working tape, that was very very noisy. Due to alignment and other techincal problems. Going from a three track studio to an eight track facility, sometimes caused issues that were insurmountable. Being transfered so many times, losing generations in the process, didn't help. It is a miracle it sounds as good as it does.

We didn't have Cedar and Protools back in the day. The mixing was done on the fly, "realtime." If the recording engineer wasn't on his toes, you had a problem.
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Post by BallroomDays67 »

Good point. The original mix intro to "Alone Again Or" does sound much better in that regard when compared to the louder intro from the "Forever Changes: Collector's Edition" alternate mix. However, I've always felt that the soft intro was very effective regardless of any technical issue.

It's also been said that Bryan's vocals were mixed too low in comparison to Arthur's. However, in listening to the alternate mix with Bryan's vocals up higher, once again the original mix sounds much better. The vocals are blended together really well.
Last edited by BallroomDays67 on Sat Dec 04, 2010 5:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by The Freedom Man »

By the way, "knownothing" is Johnny Echols.
Welcome to the board, Johnny!
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BallroomDays67
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Post by BallroomDays67 »

Very cool! Welcome, Johnny!
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Johnny Echols
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Post by Johnny Echols »

I agree with your excellent observations. As I mentioned, I may have had issues with Paul Rothschild, for the way he reassembled Revelation, but as far as his mastering work is concerned, he did a fantastic job. :mrgreen: JE.
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MichaelStuart-Ware
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forever changes

Post by MichaelStuart-Ware »

Hey Johnny. Welcome and thanks for coming. You arrived just in the nick of time, my brother.
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Post by jamestkirk »

Thanks Johnny. It is good to get it from the source...you & Michael.

I didn't know that about Bryan's picking....I have always loved that intro too...gets your attention right away! Rothchild was a great one...dealing with all those nuances must have been a challenge. He was involved too, not just Botnick?

I would really be interested to know how you all got it together finally for the Forever Changes sessions. Individually, or did you practice together those weeks between sessions?
Or was it more of a mental thing, just getting it all together?
"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music".

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Johnny Echols
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Post by Johnny Echols »

Top of the morning to you Michael, you're doing a fantastic job as usual.
I thought I'd drop by, from time to time, and add my "two cents".

Capt Kirk, We were all in such a dither back then, it's hard to say which came first. Though after the debacle, the first time around, we did make a concerted effort to work out our parts before coming back to the studio.

We had the rather "expensive" habit of finishing the prep work on songs in the studio, rather than at our homes. So sometimes we had no real idea what the song would eventually morph into, until we were all together laying down tracks.

Alone Again, is a prime example. When Bryan first played it for me, it was more of a bluegrass tune, with a catchy instrumental hook.
In reality, it almost didn't make the cut. It just didn't seem to have that indefinable "something". It had a great "hook" but that was it. I was noodling over in the corner, When David Angel walks by and said "do that Spanish riff again". Then he brought Bryan over, and after much cajoling, convinced him we should try the song with a more Spanish feel. A very reluctant Bryan agreed, and [we,] with a whole lot of input from David, came up with the song you hear on record. Without Mr. Angel it would be a very, very different song.

Thanks for hearing me out....JE.
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MichaelStuart-Ware
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forever changes

Post by MichaelStuart-Ware »

I always felt there were several factors that played heavily into the false start.

1) We hadn't been playing any live dates for months, so we were individually and collectively out of practice on our instruments,
2) Considering the complexity of the material, the group hadn't really rehearsed as much as we should have before going into the studio in the first place, and
3) All the "down time" in the months preceding the sessions equated to each of us sitting around and being bored and getting high a lot... which of course resulted in a severe lack of focus when we were called upon to perform in the pressure cooker.

The fix was relatively simple. Go home and practice more, get high less, focus, and then come back prepared. So we did.
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Post by BallroomDays67 »

Were any of Bryan's unreleased songs worked on to any degree in the studio? Was there one in particular that was closest to making the cut? He had quite a backlog of really nice songs, such as "Barber John", "Fresh Hope" and "Kathleen."
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Post by MichaelStuart-Ware »

Johnny, no no man, not "from time to time".. Let's do this thing together. It's much better this way.

Maybe Ed can redo the name of the segment, "Ask Johnny and Michael"

Cool? Yeah.
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Post by The Freedom Man »

That's not a bad idea, Michael.
What do you say, Johnny, shall I "forever change" it? :wink:
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Post by Johnny Echols »

Hey Michael, I'd be happy to have a more active role here. If you'd agree to keep on keeping on, when I'm temporarily out of the loop. Which I've explained to Ed, will happen periodically. By the way, Ask Michael and Johnny has a nicer ring.
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unrecorded Bryan's songs

Post by MichaelStuart-Ware »

When we went back into the studio the second time to record Forever Changes, the group was sitting around in the lobby of Western Recorders and Bryan was showing Arthur songs we could do that he had written. "Old Man" was chosen right away, and then Bryan played a beautiful piece that would have made an excellent second song, but Arthur said, "No man, what's that other one you played me the other day? You hadn't decided on a title for it yet. It goes "Yeah,... say it's all right..."

So Bryan says, "Oh yeah, I don't know what to call it. Maybe I'll call it 'Alone Again,' or..."

Then Arthur broke in and said, "Yeah, that's it..."Alone Again Or."

I don't remember the name of the one that was rejected but we never really worked it up, that I can recall.
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Post by The Freedom Man »

Very cool, guys.I'll go ahead and make the change and official, have yourselves a cigar!
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MichaelStuart-Ware
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Post by MichaelStuart-Ware »

Alright Johnny!!! Now we're cookin'.
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Post by Johnny Echols »

You've got it Michael. Let's get this train moving! :D
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"You Set the Scene"

Post by BallroomDays67 »

What are your thoughts about Arthur's rap at the end of "You Set the Scene"? I was surprised the first time I heard it. It fits in well at the end, although it's hard to make out some of what he's saying. I think the original version without the rap works well too. In the Einarson book, Johnny mentions that it was Elektra’s choice to remove it. Did Arthur have a problem with that at all? It seems ironic that the final lyrics were removed from the final track of an album that Arthur described as “the last words (he) would say about this planet.” Was "You Set the Scene" always intended as the final track?
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Post by Johnny Echols »

Arthurs "Rap" was a surprise in that it wasn't expected on that cut. We had been listening to a group called The Young Poets, who from my perspective were the first rap group. At least the first I'd ever heard.

Arthur often did what is now known as freestyle rhyming. After listening to them. He would break into rhyme, whenever he felt the notion. So [that] he would do it wasn't surprising, his choice of songs to do it on was.

As for Jac Holtzman, where do I start! His manipulation, and interference was an ongoing problem. So neither Arthur, or I were at all shocked, when he chose to edit one of our songs.

Seven and Seven is, required over fifty takes, mostly due to his, and Bruce Botnick's interference. Jac would say, you're too loud, there's too much treble, too much reverb, on and on it went. Why are you using such a loud and persistent vibrato? Now of course, he claims credit for the sound. As may be obvious, Mr. Holtzman was not one of our favorite people.

And so it goes.....JE.
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Post by BallroomDays67 »

Did Elektra ever do anything similar with any other Love songs? The lyrics to "You I'll Be Following" seem as though they could have been a problem, but nevertheless made it to record. Perhaps they weren't aware of what the song is about? You're probably aware that it happened with The Doors song "Break On Through", with the word "high" being edited out. However, that one was released as a single.
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Post by Johnny Echols »

Well let's see, Jac lowered parts of the vocal on Revelation, that [he] considered over the top. He changed the title of the song "Lonely Guitar" which I wrote when I was twelve, to "Emotions" and listed Arthur as co-writer, even though he was well aware that Arthur wasn't involved in any way. Jac Claimed, the title Lonely Guitar sounded too much like Herb Alperts' Lonely Bull. He maintained the mis-credit was just a mistake. The two of us never saw eye to eye.

He even tried to get Arthur to change the lyrics on Live and Let Live. Saying "Oh the Snot Has Caked Against My Pants" might offend people.
He was a very prudish man, fortunately Arthur stood his ground.
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Post by The Freedom Man »

Between Clark and Hilldale there's this lyric:

Moon's a common scene around my town
Yeah where everyone is painted brown
And if we do get stuck away
Let's go paint everybody gray


I know most lyric's have stuff Arthur saw on the streets etc.But what is this lyric about?
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Post by Johnny Echols »

When Arthur and I were kids, we would often lie in the grass, and look up at the moon. Which was common, all the other kids did the same thing. Most of the people where we grew up were, "brown skinned". so they were painted brown.

When we became of age, and realizing our options were very limited (if you view that's not the way), we moved to an area with more opportunities, and most of the people there were "white". Gray was a slang term for white. Hence paint every body gray I hope it doesn't ruin the song for you.

You learn something new every day.....JE.
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Post by The Freedom Man »

it doesn't ruin the song at all.It was just grabbing the moment
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Post by Johnny Echols »

Between Clark and Hilldale, is very much an auto biography. It tells of a young boy, who always wanted to be "somebody". He moved away from familiar surroundings, to make his way in the larger world. He became a success, everyone loved him, played his music, and wanted to know him. Soon he was the "big-shot" Living in the penthouse, where everyone could see him on the "roof". Soon he begins to wonder if those people who now profess to love him really do, (I wonder if it's me)? This was one of my favorite songs, not only because of its meaning, it was just plain fun to play.

Gotta go but I'll see you again.....JE.
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"Wonder People (I Do Wonder)"

Post by BallroomDays67 »

With CD bonus tracks, it's usually obvious as to why a previously unreleased track wasn't chosen for the original album. However, "Wonder People (I Do Wonder)" is a great song! How close was it to making the album? Had it been chosen, is there any particular song that it would have replaced? Was there any discussion about using it in the future? It would have made for a very strong b-side for a single. Was there ever any discussion about releasing a second single from "Forever Changes"?
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“Between Clark and Hilldale”

Post by BallroomDays67 »

In “Between Clark and Hilldale”, Arthur sings along during the trumpet section. Do you know if that’s something that he had planned for the song? Or, was it one of those instances in which something was intended to have been edited out, but was left in because it sounds good?
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