Pleasures Abound in Love’s Last Studio Album

Arthur Lee proves a seductive crooner with charisma to burn in the 1974 album “Reel to Real.”


Reel to Real by Love

HIGH MOON RECORDS

Love, the groundbreaking LA band led by the mercurial Arthur Lee, produced a couple of bona fide ’60s masterworks in the form of Da Capo, a wild-eyed Stones-meets-chamber pop extravaganza, and Forever Changes, an intimate art-folk gem. But the ’70s were less stellar, marked by unreleased albums and missed opportunities.

The 1974 outing Reel to Real, Love’s last studio album, has long been regarded as a footnote. While it’s clearly a lesser work, pleasures abound for patient fans. Lee and his forever-shifting cast of players take a funkier, less-daring approach than on Love’s most-celebrated LPs; like his friend Jimi Hendrix before him, he dealt with the contradictions of being an African-American star in the largely white world of rock’n’roll. Highlights of this overdue reissue, which features a dozen bonus tracks, include the Otis Redding-inspired outtake “Do It Yourself” and the woozy psychedelia of “Busted Feet,” which evokes Jimi’s later recordings. Most important, Lee is compelling throughout, still a commanding shouter and seductive crooner with charisma to burn, even when the material is less than thrilling.

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In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

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