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Candy's Waltz

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Album Review

Like the 1997 release If You Believe In, this is a dip into the vault of MacLean solo demos, revealing that the ethereal singer/songwriter had a wealth of compositions that never made it onto Love records. In fact, not a single one of these songs was included on Love's first three albums, though a few of them had been written before his departure from the band (and a couple of them appear, in different versions, on If You Believe In). This collection might be considered less essential, for purist fans at any rate, than If You Believe In, as (unlike If You Believe In) this has no bona fide 1960s performances. Seven were done in New York in 1971, a couple were recorded live in 1976-77, and the rest date from the early 1980s (though, according to the liner notes, just five of the 19 songs were written after 1970). As all of the songs feature nothing but MacLean's acoustic guitar and voice, they may as well have all been done in the late 1960s. Throughout his sound is an odd if alluring package: high, wavering, sometimes almost girlish delicate vocals, entrancing yet rambling melodies, and a similarly rambling lyrical focus of stream-of-consciousness romantic naïveté. Be warned that some may find this way too sappy: MacLean often sounds as if he's composing/singing love letters right off the top of his head, with a sense of phrasing that would be as at home in theatrical musicals as folk coffeehouses. While some of these were written during the Love era and might indeed have been nice additions to Da Capo or Forever Changes — MacLean in fact notes in his spoken intro to "Love Will Be Here" that the tune was going to be on Forever Changes until Arthur Lee vetoed it at the last minute — you sense that the band would have really needed to knock them into more concise, rock-oriented arrangements to make them work in that context. Perhaps partially for that reason, nothing here sounds as good as Forever Changes' "Old Man" or "Alone Again Or," which were more taut, in lyrics and structure, than anything here. Nonetheless, it's another useful volume for the serious Love fan's library, enhanced by a 13-minute 1998 radio interview at the end, in which MacLean — with less than a year to live — bubbles with enthusiasm and optimism for the future.

Biography

Born: 1947 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s

As the secondary songwriter in the renowned folk-rock/psychedelic group Love, guitarist and vocalist Bryan MacLean was overshadowed by that group's driving force, singer/songwriter Arthur Lee. Yet MacLean did manage to squeeze a few of his own compositions onto the group's first three albums: "Softly to Me," "Orange Skies," "Old Man," and "Alone Again Or." MacLean's tunes had a lighter, poppier touch than Lee's, but also had a similar evanescent, mystical glow, enhanced by MacLean's odd trembling...
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Candy's Waltz, Bryan MacLean
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