The inimitable Arthur Lee & Love this weekend. Recorded in concert at the Northampton Massachusetts Center for The Arts on April 10, 1993. There was no question the brilliance of Lee’s work – that much of his life and career were spent in frustration and contention that his vision wasn’t understood, gives you some idea of what the opposite held true for another artist of more recent times; Prince. Where Arthur Lee’s vision was misunderstood, stymied in many ways by the Major labels, Prince fought doggedly to maintain his artistic control and to maintain his vision – no matter what.
It really goes to show what can happen to the creative spirit when it’s being controlled versus being left alone. What would Arthur Lee have accomplished had he not had so many run-ins with executives and labels? Hard to say. Arthur Lee arrived on the scene during a time when a lot of upheaval was taking place – a lot of the business side of music was of the “old school” and tight controls were exerted over artists – it was a matter of sheer luck that an artist had a Record company support them 100% – it was more of the exception than the rule, even in the formidable days of Rock.
But that’s a whole other story and it detracts from the beauty of what Arthur Lee did accomplish; an extraordinary body of work that hasn’t aged – that still maintains its vitality and freshness as much today as it did in 1966. That his gift and his work shone through everything, despite personal demons.
This is Arthur Lee during that revitalization of his career – the rediscovery by fans and people who never heard him the first time. It was like a rebirth – and for the audience, and for fans, it was wonderful to witness.
So crank this one up and enjoy.
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