By Richie Unterberger

While Love's reorganization of their personnel under leader Arthur Lee in mid-1968 is sometimes referred to as the second version of the band, in fact they had used a different lineup on each of their first three (and, still, most famous) LPs. Not only that, a couple of musicians, drummer Don Conka and future Standells bassist John Fleckenstein, were in a yet different lineup that preceded the release of the first Love album. So Love were always in transition to some degree, but the 1968 shift did make over the band from neck to toe, with only Lee remaining from any previous incarnations of the group. Supporting him now were bassist Frank Fayad, drummer George Suranovich, and lead guitarist Jay Donnellan, who played on Love's final album for Elektra, 1969's Four Sail.

    Some confusion has surrounded the double-LP set that appeared a mere four months later on a different label, Out Here. For although Out Here came out on Blue Thumb, its material in fact originated from the same sessions that had produced the tracks used on Four Sail. Love, it turns out, had so many songs that they recorded far more than could fit onto a single album, or even for that matter a double album. Even after using ten on Four Sail, a lot were left over for the Out Here release, now combined onto one disc for this CD reissue.

    Like Four Sail, the styles heard on Out Here, particularly the hard rock ones, surprised fans who might have been expecting more of the lightly orchestrated folk-rock psychedelia heard on Love's classic 1967 album, Forever Changes. It came as a surprise, in fact, to Jay Donnellan when he auditioned for the band. "I was working with [Love's] old drummer, Snoopy Pfisterer, and he had heard that Arthur was looking for a guitar player," remembers Donnellan today. "So he set up an audition for me, and when I walked in, George and Frank were already in the band. The three of them were rehearsing, and I walked in carrying an acoustic guitar, thinking about Forever Changes. But [Lee] said, 'No, we're not into that shit anymore, we're doing this now,' and he fired into [the Four Sail song] 'August.' So I said, 'Well, excuse me, let me go get my electric,' and that was the first song we worked on."

    Adds Jay, "Because I was way up on Love and Forever Changes was a favorite album of mine, I just assumed he was gonna do another one [like it]. So I came in loaded up for that. But he would change like you would change a shirt, and he didn't think much of it."

    As for the songs that surfaced on both Four Sail and Out Here, Lee confirmed in a 1991 Goldmine article that all of them "were written in the same time period." Elaborates Donnellan, "We probably learned those in about four weeks. A few of them came later, but those rehearsals were pretty intense. We were in his house probably three or four days a week for a lot of hours, just playing. Then when we went to the studio, it was basically just a rehearsal. It was just, roll the tape and play the song. In those days, there was no cutting or splicing or whatever went down."

    As to why the Out Here material ended up being issued by Blue Thumb, Jay responds, "I think Arthur, in his craziness and genius, knew that [Four Sail] was gonna be his last album for Elektra, for whatever the reasons were. But he knew at that time that he needed to give Elektra one more album to satisfy his contract. And at that time, he was already negotiating with Blue Thumb for the next album; I assume he negotiated part of the deal for a double album. So when we went in, we just learned and cut all the songs; they were all equal. And then whatever seemed like it would go together in a good album, ended up being the Elektra album, and then later we moved to another studio and then finished up the remainder of them."    

    To Donnellan's recollection, part of the album was cut in a home studio of sorts. "Coming out of the [Laurel] canyon into Hollywood, just down a little bit, there was a house in a not-so-nice neighborhood, just kind of a regular shabby house. But then when you walked in, one of the bedrooms had been turned into a control room, and the other big room had been turned into a recording room. I have no idea how Arthur put that together, but it was just a little shabby studio, basically. These days in a home, you can have pretty good stuff on your wristwatch. But in those days, you needed some big stuff, and it had a minimum of stuff. But it was sufficient." Later material, he adds, was cut in a recording studio in an industrial complex, in a facility actually officially known as The Recording Studio.

    The tracks on Out Here covered a wide territory, including but not limited to the kind of sweet folk-rock for which Lee was most known. Those softer cuts, such as "Willow Willow," "Listen to My Song," and "Gather Round," were the ones most to Donnellan's liking. There were also, however, echoes of country ("Car Lights on in the Daytime Blues" and "Abalony"), sarcastic protest ("Discharged"), jazzy melodies ("Nice to Be"), and Crosby, Stills & Nash-like harmonizing ("I Still Wonder"). There were also hard rock outings and jams, most prominently on the 11-minute "Love Is More Than Words or Better Late Than Never," for which Gary Rowles (who'd replace Donnellan for Love's next album) is credited with lead guitar. Another musician from outside the usual lineup was ex-Crazy World of Arthur Brown drummer Drachen Theaker, who plays on a harder-rocking remake of "Signed D.C.," which had been presented as a mournful acoustic folk ballad on Love's debut LP. As to why Lee would revisit the song in the studio, Donnellan admits he hasn't "a clue, except that it was going over good live. Maybe for that reason, he wanted to do it with a new band, or maybe Blue Thumb requested it."

    "You Are Something" features an especially unusual Donnellan solo, as "we were being a little sarcastic that day, and [Arthur] said, 'oh Jay, come on, come on and play' or something. And I thought it was rather trite, in whatever attitude I was in at the time. It was nothing serious, it was just maybe arm wrestling or something. So I told the engineer to slow the tape down to half-speed. Then I played the solo, and they sped it back up, and it sounded like a little tinker toy, a kiddie piano. I'm more than surprised now to find many people who believe that I actually played that. 'How did you play that so fast and so clean?' 'Oh, because I didn't.' But actually the little arm wrestle proved out to be a good deal in the end."

    Out Here likely suffered from being released only four months after Four Sail, reaching only #176 in the charts. "I don't think the two, from the band's point of view, ever interfered with each other," remarks Donnellan. "But from a business point of view, it certainly did." It wasn't the only questionable business decision made on Love's behalf at the time, as Jay also remembers that "one day at his house, [Lee] got a phone call from the agent. He said, 'No, I don't want to go to New York for one fucking gig.' And it was Woodstock! At the time I didn't know what it was, but I put the pieces together years later," he laughs.

    By the time Love started working on their next album, Jay had been unceremoniously replaced. "I think I was a little bit of a troublemaker for Arthur because in those days, and still now, I just kind of always speak my mind if I don't like something," Donnellan observes. "Arthur wasn't used to that, and he didn't want me around anymore. I can certainly understand that. It wasn't my position, it wasn't my place. So one day I came to The Recording Studio, and the door was locked. I pounded on the door, and Arthur stuck his head out about a quarter of an inch and said, 'we don't need you today,' and slammed the door, basically. So I went home, and then a little later there was a telegram from the manager. Kind of a chicken way to do it. It said, 'Pursuant to your desires and wishes, you are no longer a member of the group Love.' That's a kind of legal tongue-twister there. So that was that." With George Rowles in Donnellan's place, Love recorded the 1970 album False Start, also reissued on CD by Collectors' Choice Music. -- Richie Unterberger

contents copyright Richie Unterberger, 2000-2010
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