First, it must be said that it’s a little unfair to call this an official album from Love, as many of the songs on this collection were later used in Arthur Lee’s solo albums (particularly, 1972’s “Vindicator,” in which many of the players in this incarnation of Love were session musicians). However, yes, these were the tracks destined for Love’s major label debut with Columbia Records, tentatively titled “Dear You,” in addition to a few acoustic demos, interjected in between a few key tracks.
“Love Lost” is a collection that marks the band’s transition from folk-psych/garage rockers to the more conventional hard rock of the time. Gone are the delicate, complex acoustic-based compositions of 1967’s “Forever Changes,” as are jazz and latin influences of that particular album. However, even as these songs are simpler, they do not show a regression into the punk-like styles of “My Little Red Book” or “7 and 7 Is.” Instead, Arthur and this second line-up of Love embracing the blues rock that was becoming increasingly popular. Yet, with so many of these tracks being demos of later fully realized songs, it retains some of the original gentle qualities of the folk side of Arthur Lee, making the transition between “Forever Changes” and Arthur’s solo material clear. For instance, more than just the loudness and distortion of the instruments, Lee trades his lilting croon of “Forever Changes” for the more soulful wail that gives these tracks their strength. Even in simpler form, Arthur Lee still has a mystic, profound understanding of melody and color.
While the album as a whole is a mixed bag due to its execution, the majority of the tracks are stellar stand-outs. Opening with “Love Jumped Through My Window” (a demo version; it later appears on “Vindicator”), the simpler mix illustrates Lee’s sense of songcraft, while still being unafraid to wear his influences with pride (the demo sounds like Lee was influenced by the country-fried rock that The Who were doing at the time, while the final cut in ’72 is more Led Zeppelin-sounding). Yet the one name that comes to mind when hearing the fully realized tracks like “Can’t Find It” and “Midnight Sun” is ‘Hendrix.’ While guitarists Jay Donnellan and Craig Tarwater are not virtuosos at the level of Jimi, it’s Lee’s sense of layering of the guitars, tone, and song structure that forces these tracks to sound like lost Hendrix tracks. In fact, listen to how many Hendrix songs you can pull out of “Midnight Sun.”
As with all Sundazed releases, Bob Irwin masters and mixes these tracks with loving tenderness that lets everything stand out, yet still retain the loose and raw qualities that you seek in good garage. Arthur Lee’s screams and exclamations throughout the album has all the anguish of a man with a twisted leg, while the instruments come in with a rich balance. “Find Somebody” has this funky groove quality, while “Looking Glass” and “Trippin’ and Slippin'” (which liberally quotes from Jimi’s “Ezy Rider”) have the same slinky blues rock of Cream’s finest moments.
GRADE: B-. While not being essential to a casual Love fan, it’s definitely for somebody with a devotion to Arthur Lee, and seek a looser experience than “Vindicator” turned out to be. It’s only failing is that it’s not a well-arranged package of material, but the songs (and Michael Simmons’ liner notes) are all worth it.