Arthur Lee and Love, in concert at the legendary Roskilde Festival, Denmark in June of 2002. Precious little exists in the way of live recordings featuring Arthur Lee and Love. From their formative years, only a scant few of any decent quality have survived. Only later, when a resurgence in popularity of Arthur Lee and a re-examination of just how brilliant an artist and writer he was, have recordings of his live work been preserved. But even at that, there just aren’t that many.
So, locating this concert performance from Denmark, via Dansk Radio’s P3 network was a real find, even if it is later in Arthur Lee’s career, and sadly most all the original members of the band were gone by this time, and even Arthur himself would leave four years later. The voice is a bit creaky in places and falls short of hitting a few notes here and there, and there are some technical problems with the tape in places with missing bits, but those are small quibbles in the bigger scheme of things. This is a great concert.
The thing about Arthur Lee was the sheer brilliance of his writing, and how the power and sentiment of his lyrics remains as fresh today as it was in 1966. Particularly with reference to his milestone album Forever Changes – it is, on closer listening, a masterpiece. Sure, even though Arthur Lee and Love would always be synonymous with Summer of Love and Psychedelia, the music stands up to the test of time – and if you lose the preconceived notion that much of the music is acid-based, you’ll hear it on a different level, to some really engaging and heartfelt song-writing.
Although Lee went through a tremendous amount of personal problems during his life, and that his body of work wasn’t as appreciated during his lifetime as it is now, the notion that listening to this concert, and the sheer joy of playing to an audience who are on the same page as him, really testifies to just how remarkable the work of Arthur Lee was.
Fortunately, through re-discovery and re-assessment, the work of Arthur Lee and Love (the original and the later incarnations) has been getting much of the appreciation it has always deserved. If you haven’t heard Arthur Lee’s work before, you really need to do yourself a favor and check out what is a very rich catalog of very special music.
As for this concert – just crank it up and enjoy it.