• “Stephanie Knows Who” set to a Love slideshow. Thanks to FillTheGaps.
“Excellent Cerebral Pop from the USA”
From their LP “Da Capo” (Elektra EKS-74005) in 1966.
I’ve long been a proud owner of their excellent “Forever Changes” LP of ’67, and it was only a matter of time to catch up with it’s famous predecessor…
The extract below appears in my recent Album Chart of 1966 review.
Arriving in November ’66 was the second LP of the year from the Los Angeles group led by Arthur Lee, with the quintet now expanded to a septet, a move which pays dividends on this vibrant, classy affair with arrangements incorporating organ, harpsichord, saxophone and flute in amongst the standard guitar and drums template. Harpsichord and sax help drive the thrilling opener, “Stephanie Knows Who”, the album’s leading single, which has a superb vocal from Lee and a terrific stutter-beat. Guitarist Bryan MacLean steps up for a rare song-writing entry, with a flute-laden love song very much of the time, full of “Carnivals and cotton candy and you”. The light pop rumba continues with “¡Que Vida!” – these tones could easily be a massive fail, but the delivery and musicianship are first class and the hippy-drippy effect is overcome, leaving a feel-good glow. By sheer contrast, “7 and 7 Is” comes blasting in, all aggressive and nasty with some truly spectacular drumming from Alban ‘Snoopy’ Pfisterer, although it exasperated him so in the June recording session that he moved to keyboards, allowing Michael Stuart to take up the sticks for the rest of the album! It gave them their biggest hit single, although only a #33 in the Billboard 100. Clearly, there is no justice in these matters. “The Castle” then follows, with some neat flamenco guitar action underlining this group’s desire to push on. The flower-power love vibe is encapsulated on the wonderful side closer, “She Comes In Colors”, a beautiful and complex piece which serves to underline the ambition and talent within the group at this time. Strange that after such an innovative, high quality side we should be subjected to a practice session jam for the entirety of the whole second side. Said Mr Lee: “The song “Revelation” was a long jam we did so the musicians could express themselves.” Gee, thanks Arthur. Revelation my ass. What was heading for a “brilliant” album became only a “really good” one with the tiresome 19 minute chore. They’re easily forgiven though – you only need to flip over and repeat side 1.