Anyone who hears the version of “Signed D.C.”
that Love remade on Out Here without
knowing the version on the band’s 1966 debut can get a much different picture
of Arthur Lee. While the original was a quiet, confessional piece, the update
shakes you by the shirt collar with an overwrought Lee vocal, a searing blooze
harp and a fuzz guitar solo in the coda. Love Mach 2 piled it on heavier than
its predecessor and Lee had the performance chops.
1969’s Out Here, the
second album by the lineup that retained Lee as the only original member, brought
the band to Blue Thumb Records. As a two-record set, it makes a great single
album. “Willow Willow,” “Nice to Be” and “I Still Wonder” rank with the pithy
folk of Lee’s early work. “Gather ‘Round” brings back Lee the visionary last
heard in “The Red Telephone.” But the album also includes joke songs both
clever and awful, an overblown guitar freakout, and “Doggone,” an embarrassing
12-minute track, eight of which are taken up by a drum solo.
Start is probably best known for its opener, “The Everlasting
First,” which includes Jimi Hendrix’s wah-wah guitar. But by this album, Lee
was able to harness his new, heavy sound with his past, coming up with songs
that often sound like a Sly and the Family Stone sans horns. Last barely half
an hour, none of that time is wasted, even the live remake of an Out Here track.
Tracks: “Stand Out,” “Willow Willow” (Out Here); “Flying,” “Anytime” (False Start) MIKE SHANLEY