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Album Review

The release of these previously unissued, acoustic solo demos was a minor revelation for Love fans. Ten of the 16 tracks were recorded in 1966 and 1967, including early versions of "Old Man" and "Orange Skies," as well as eight songs that never made it onto Love's '60s albums. Of the remaining six cuts, five were recorded in 1982, and one (a version of "Alone Again Or") in 1972, although all of these were also composed in the '60s. MacLean's best songs are still "Alone Again Or" and "Old Man," the two compositions that ended up on Forever Changes (an excellent demo of "Old Man" concludes the CD). The set as a whole, however, reveals a singer/songwriter who was comparable to few other '60s rockers, in his fey melodicism (with little if any blues/R&B influence); his transmutation of folk and flamenco influences into more pop- and rock-based structures; his unexpectedly rapid key changes and irregular lyric meter; and in his guileless vocals, which are unaffected to the point of naivete. It's kind of like a cross between Joni Mitchell and Jose Feliciano. Even if relatively few MacLean compositions were permitted to interefere with Arthur Lee's material on Love's early albums, it seems likely that MacLean had a substantial influence on Lee's writing and, more noticeably, the Johnny Mathis-like vocal delivery that characterized Lee's vocals on Forever Changes. Presumably, lines such as "ladies should be used and simply tossed aside like worn-out shoes" (from "Strong Commitment") make the composer wince today, but there are some good songs here, such as "Fresh Hope," "Kathleen," and "She Looks Good," that would have been worthy inclusions on early Love LPs. The material from 1972 and 1982 is quite similar — in both quality and bare-bones production — to the earlier demos, for those conceerned that the later stuff may be too dissimilar from the '60s performances to merit investigation.


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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ifyoubelievein, Bryan MacLean
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