Arthur Lee, great of Love, passed away this weekend. No news there. But I can’t let today go without a comment or two: I came late to Love, like many 1980s teens who saw the Damned’s video (btw – did Alex Cox direct that? heard a rumor) for their wonderful cover of “Alone Again Or.” Always felt less cool for that, but a few years ago, a friend who’d once interviewed Arthur Lee told me that, in an interview elsewhere in 1994, Lee had exclaimed “We should have done it the way The Damned did it!” Of course, it’s not an Arthur Lee song — the late Bryan McLean wrote it, but the band doesn’t get it, or anything, done without Arthur.
I also came to Arthur via a post-Du, Grant Hart B-side, his lovely version of Arthur’s “Signed DC.” It’s a simple drug song. And it always communicated Arthur Lee’s talents, to me, better than more celebrated songs. As far as the madman in the attic image, I think Lee just played that up, and drug just didn’t help. More likely he was a tragic, over-talented casualty of this country’s inability to take care of its most valuable artisits.
I did get to see one of the last Love shows in 2004, in NYC, with Lee and guitarist Johnny Echols (who looked more beaten down than Lee) reunited for the first time in ages. I’m not a Love uber-fan, but they were pretty damn good, and Arthur seemed to be playing for his life, which he maybe was, if he already knew he had leukemia back then, although reports state he didn’t know until earlier this year. The only bad part of the show was the headliner, the partially reunited Zombies, who, after a few gorgeous renditions of Odyssey and Oracle mainstays, decided to let Rod Argent unleash his post-Zombies-career garbage. It wasn’t so bad after we snuck out and got plastered somewhere else.
Over the weekend, it seems I started a war in heaven by posting tracks from the Changes’ yet to be released album, Today is Tonight, but it’s a war everyone wins, in the end, because the Changes are now in agreement (right guys?), and you’re going to buy their new album, and I’m posting another new track today, “Such a Scene,” a different taste from the rest of the record, although the polished production remains; this is more a propulsive, restless rock track, adding layers and layers of well-played hooks. By falling 15 seconds short of three minutes, it also doesn’t overstay its welcome, a rare thing for earnest stuff.
And I have to drop this next one, which I think I mentioned before is a lovingly Satanic synthesis of the Bee Gees (the vocals) and the Smiths (the guitars). With a little Haircut 100 (the drums) thrown in. Love the handclaps, love the triangle. And a prog rock guitar intro, as a bonus. Twirl your arms in the air like a fey Brit when you dance to this one.