The second album from the Los Angeles based Love, this one shuffled the band around a bit, with great effect, with the best bit coming when the brilliant percussionist Michael Stuart joins in on drums. Like a lot of sophomore albums, this one is . . . odd.
It opens with the absolutely terrible Stephanie, Knows Who, with the band churning out one of the most obnoxious riffs of all time while the lead singer basically shouts in a very off key voice about, well, Stephanie, I guess, who I honestly can’t tell if he loves or hates, given this arrangement.
From there, the album has nowhere to go but up and luckily it does. The second song is the absolutely gorgeous Orange Skies, a truly dreamy piece of musing about all the things we find to love; lyrics that border on poetry and a fantastic arrangement sell this one. The album has nothing if it doesn’t have sprawl; to believe that the beautiful Orange Skies is on the same album with the pure thrashing drive of 7 and 7 Is or the up tempo pop of She Comes in Colors . . . well, that’s a stretch, but there they are, sharing space.
The album is pretty strong all the way through, at least after Stephanie gets out of the way. But the final twenty-five minutes are non-stop brilliance. First, there’s The Castle, a song with an endearing start and stop format that weaves acoustic guitar, harpsichord, bass, drums and voice into a tapestry where they all seem to have their moment alone and all seem to share the stage at various times. The way the instruments come in, drop out, come in, drop out make this one a real keeper and a masterpiece of arrangement if nothing else. After this is She Comes in Colors, one of the most beautiful songs the band ever did and maybe, in the final analysis, their absolute best moment. I’m not a fan of Alone Again Or, I should note.
Then, there’s the final track, the nineteen minute Revelation. This track has been the most controversial of this album’s tracks and opinion seems pretty generally arrayed against it. Well, once again, I’m right and everyone else is wrong. Revelation is excellent. One rather wishes the vocalist would shut the heck up, but luckily he only sings for about five minutes all together. While it’s true that most tracks over fifteen minutes are, frankly, not worth listening to, this one definitely is. It begins with a trilling harpsichord and instantly morphs into a straight up blues rock that goes for about twelve minutes. At that point, in one of the great moments of recorded music, the saxophone comes in and the band just suddenly morphs into a hopping pop rock. Certainly one of the great transitions of music history. Ignore the singer gulping and wailing occasionally; music this good, I can tolerate the dimwit with the microphone.
So, while I hate the opening track, I’m forced to admit that the point of this album seems to be squeezing as many disparate songs on one album as possible. That in mind, there is sure to be at least one that you hate. You can’t sprawl that far without hitting at least one sour note. But the body of the album is brilliant, sprawling, amazing. And the final track is one of the finest long rock tracks I’ve ever heard.
4 ½ out of 5 stars.