Monday, April 12, 2010

7 + 7 = 2 +2 = ♥

Released as a single in the summer of 1966 - ahead of their second album, "Da Capo" - "7 and 7 ..." is relentless and driven; owing much to the primal rhthmic pulse emanating out of Austin, Texas, viz. The Spades and 13th Floor Elevators.

Amphetamine fueled flailing at the Hop, with Danny and The Juniors beaten mercilessly in the wings. Whipped with their own guitar leads and dragged backstage to bleed out in the dark.

Arthur Lee and cronies were erratic, misanthropic, and touching bad. Juvenile delinquents who wandered one early morning out of a fleapit on the Sunset Strip into the candy striped dawn of the summer of love.

And couldn't stop blinking.

With production duties on "Da Capo" proper inexplicably delegated by Jack Holzman to Paul Rothchild, a graduate of the Boston based folk scene prior to his involvement with Elektra, the resulting LP - released in January 1967 - is an altogether awkward bridge between the raw Hollywood sound of their debut and the definitive "Forever Changes".

The wrong sort of tension is ushered in as long term drummer, Alban "Snoopy" Pfisterer is encouraged to trade percussion for organ and harpsichord - a role he clearly resented in spite, or because of his classical training - and two new musicians are summarily recruited to fill out the subsequent 'vaccuum'.

Rothchild conspicuously fails to marshal the inflated line-up in RCA's showcase studio; or render focus where it is required.

While Lee boldly proposed Love's much improvised live staple, "Revelation" (formerly "John Lee Hooker") cover the entire second side to "Da Capo" - taking his cue, perhaps, from the well received inclusion of the extended jam, "Goin' Home" on "Aftermath", after The Rolling Stones witnessed Love perform at The Brave New World - Rothchild was roundly criticized for his indifference in setting out to capture the inalienable spirit and energy the group elicited live.

Interestingly, given his casual dismissal of Elektra's most popular act, The Doors, as second rate performers, culminating in his opting out as producer on "
L.A. Woman" just three years later, it might be entirely fair to suggest that Paul Rothchild had serious issues in comprehending what motivates a certain kind of individual to venture into the studio in pursuit of a non linear objective. Not for the first time, he was justly accused of failing to deliver.

In the event, Bruce Botnik amply salvaged that raw material which Rothchild was so keen to wash his hands of.

Intuitively. Unburdened by a desire to merely set the levels and run.

More than any previous release, the 'Rothchild free zone' which is "
L.A. Woman" goes a good deal farther in cementing the unpredictable nature of a dynamic Rothchild loathed.

Of simply nailing the doors, open and shut.

Perhaps Rothchild was better suited to producing "cocktail music" than he cared to confront.

Possessed of a temperament ill equipped to handle the louche egotism of the L.A. scene as it unfurled, maybe the realization left him more shaken than stirred. And desperate to throw in the towel.

Resistant from the outset to the direction Holzman was intent on pursuing through the west coast offices of Elektra, Paul Rothchild's loyalty to the folk based roots of the label left him exposed to situations better avoided.

As it is, Arthur Lee was astute enough to learn from those failings etched deep into "
Da Capo" and put 2 and 2 together; without making the same mistake twice. Originally intent on securing the services of Buffalo Springfield's Neil Young for "Forever Changes", when Young bailed out Arthur wisely decided to go peddle it alone. One decision which never snuck back out the past to taunt him.

Written by Arthur Lee.

Arthur Lee: vocals; guitar;
Johnny Echols: lead guitar;
Bryan MacLean: rhythm guitar;
Ken Forssi: bass;
Alban Pfisterer: organ; drums.

Produced by Jack Holzman.
Engineered by Bruce Botnik.

LOVE: 7 AND 7 IS from "7 And 7 Is b/w No. Fourteen" 45 (Elektra) 1966 (US)

1 comment:

ib said...

What's eating Gilbert Grape ?

Well. I didn't realize I harboured such an ill defined grudge against Paul Rothchild until what began as a simple thumb's up for Athur Lee grew by the paragraph.

Now. I know from previous comments throughout this blog's history that I am in a minority when it comes to my juvenile fixation for The Doors. If not the L.A. scene through the middle to late sixties.

Merely touching on the hash that Rothchild made of "Da Capo" made it all spew forth.

Still. After the first draft ran, it occurred to me that my wholesale condemnation of the man was as ill informed as it was partisan.

Rothchild, I subsequently gathered, was something of a technical pioneer whose heart never strayed too far from his Brooklyn roots and introduction to the emergent folk scene on the east coast. I knew about his work with The Butterfield Blues Band and John Sebastian of the Lovin' Spoonful, but I was less aware of his eventual association with Crosby, Stills & Nash - producing their original demos, which I had previously assumed were the labour of that 'triad' alone - and a whole bunch of stuff that is probably common knowledge to aficionados of the Buckley / Joplin

Add to which, Holzman all but held a gun to his head when inviting him to produce The Doors - a group Rothchild was not alone in detesting - after they were signed to Elektra on Arthur Lee's recommendation.

Rothchild, it seems, never warmed to Holzman's business ambitions to reshape the label as a hit producing factory out on the west coast. And from there the tensions brewed.

So. I was compelled to go back and tone down the vitriol a little.

Maybe it's just old age.

As a mentioned up here back when I was getting married; it's been a long while since I could squeeze into a pair of whiskey soaked leather pants.

Then again, fringed suede and and tie-dyed bandanas have never been on my agenda.

Fetch me that muumuu.