Love | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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In the mid 60s, when Elektra Records was looking to break into the newly lucrative rock music scene, it pinned its hopes on two LA-based outfits: the Doors and Love. Love, led by the gifted, acid-gobbling Arthur Lee, was considered the more talented of the two, but "Light My Fire" made the Doors stars while Love was relegated to cult-fave status. Still, it was Love that pursued the more musically adventurous path under the guidance of the reclusive, idiosyncratic Lee. Their eponymous debut record tingled with Byrds-derived Rickenbacker strumming and distinguished itself with Lee's pristine tenor and his melodic yet darkly limned songs. Da Capo, the next record, was more experimental, with jagged rhythms, a corrosive guitar buzz, and baroque arrangements adorning Lee's increasingly distinctive songs. Artistic pay dirt arrived with the third effort, Forever Changes. Somewhat overlooked at the time, the album now regularly appears on critics' all-time top-ten lists. It's frequently compared to Sgt. Pepper and Pet Sounds, but Lee dispensed with the earnest psychedelic tinkering of those records and instead imbued his song cycle with surrealistic paranoia, bitterness, and a procession of indelible melodies, tastefully accented with strings and brass. Subsequent releases saw an allegedly drug-related decline in Lee's songwriting, though stellar tunes continued to appear, and by the mid 70s the original band had vanished, although Lee has periodically put different lineups together under its name. What this current edition of Love brings to the stage remains to be seen, but rumor has it Lee's voice and quirky intelligence are as keen as ever. Saturday, 10 PM, Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison; 327-1662 or 477-7469.

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