And now, a slight change of pace:
Bryan Maclean- 'Old Man' (Demo recorded 1966. Released on Love 'Forever Changes' LP issued November 1967. Elektra label. This from 'Ifyoubelievein' LP, US only released summer 1997. Sundazed label )
Surely every RPM'er has a copy of Love's 'Forever Changes' in their collection? If not, why not!!! There's no denying the quality of leader Arthur Lee's songs and musicianship but there could have been so much more to Love if............ Well, to answer that we have to look at Bryan's personality and background. Born into an upper middle class family with show business connections, Bryan could be viewed as a spoiled rich kid. His mother was an artist, and a keen flamenco dancer who would drag Bryan along to her lessons. It was there that he developed a love for the flamenco rhythms and furious guitar strumming which would later become a staple part of some of Love's classic songs (think 'Alone Again Or') His architect father loved show tunes and Bryan not only developed a love for Lerner and Loewe, Rodger and Hammerstein etc, Frederick Loewe declared Bryan a 'musical genius' when he heard him playing the piano at aged three. Bryan learnt to swim in his neighbours pool, that's Elizabeth Taylor's pool by the way, and his first steady girlfriend was Liza Minneli. He began playing blues songs and Indian modal instrumentals in LA's clubs aged 17 and it was there that he befriended Jim McGuinn, Gene Clarke and David Crosby who were in the process of forming the Byrds. Their shared love of Indian music and the Beatles saw Bryan hanging out with the Byrds, eventually becoming a go-fer/road manager when they began to become popular. However, he was left behind when the band flew to the UK in 1965 and it was this event which saw Bryan's desire to be in a group become a reality. Returning home late one night, he called in at Ben Franks Beanery, a popular hang out for musicians (akin to the Watford Gap in the UK, but probably posher!) and was invited into a parked car belonging to Arthur Lee. Now, whether, as some suspect, Lee was there deliberately to seek out Bryan, who was well known thanks to his club appearances and his friendship with the Byrds, or that the stars were favourably aligned, Lee asked Bryan to join the nascent Love (then called the Grassroots). There's no doubt that Lee, famous for using people to meet his own ends, would have been aware of Bryans business contacts but it's also certain that he would also have been aware of Bryans musical talents as they were both playing the same circuit. Bryan joined the band soon after and, as there was already a record release by a band called the Grassroots, the group were swiftly rechristened Love. Despite being a prolific songwriter by this time, Bryan would struggle to have his work included in the Love canon with just four of his songs being placed on the band's first three albums. There are sixteen songs from this period on the 'Ifyoubelievein' album and many of them would have fitted in perfectly on any of those initial three albums. Because of Lee's domineering personality, his predilection for setting band mates against each other, his own (and the rest of Love's members) prodigious drug use and a deserved reputation for no-shows, Love in general, and Bryan in particular, regularly gave in to Lee's demands. By late 1967 Bryans confidence was at rock bottom and, aware of the huge backlog of songs, label owner Jac Holtzman offered Bryan the chance of a solo career. He was spirited away to Hawaii to record some demos but, such was Bryans mental state that Holtzman turned the results down. There were further unsuccessful demos for Capitol and, at the end of his tether, Bryan decided, quite simply, to pray for guidance and, a couple of weeks later, had a revelation of sorts in a New York bar and joined a religious sect called The Vineyard (later to become the relious home for born again Christian Bob Dylan). Bryan turned his back on rock music, initially opening a Christian nightclub called The Daisy and, when that closed in 1978 he was approached to re-join Love for two dates at the Whisky-au go-go in LA. Lee then asked Bryan to join the band full time to tour the UK but, as he had still not been 'allowed' to perform his own songs and, crucially, wasn't paid for the two gigs, he declined and formed his own group. The band was short-lived and Bryan retreated into isolation again before recording several albums of religious songs and appearing occasionally with his step sister Maria McKee's band Lone Justice. In 1996 Bryan's mother found the Elektra demos in a box in the family garage and began contacting record labels with a view to their release. New York's Sundazed label prepared the fine package (my numbered limited edition.... 267 of 1000 worldwide) which includes a colored vinyl bonus 7" and reproduced handwritten lyric sheet for the title song, comes in a lovely gatefold sleeve with expansive sleeve notes. Poignantly, Bryan states "This is just the beginning, so to speak. I feel as if I'm, kind of, just starting out on life....". Unfortunately, on Christmas Day 1998 he suffered a heart attack and passed away. 'Old Man' sees Bryan, perhaps naively, conjure up the proverbial 'wise old man' who, for some reason gives the singer gifts and trinkets before he dispenses advice regarding 'love' (not the group I would imagine) which the singer relates as approval of his current paramour. A gorgeous string laden ballad on 'Forever Changes', here it's a touchingly emotional ballad from a person who was already showing signs of the crisis in self confidence which would forever blight his career.