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.