Nuggets: 7 and 7 Is by Love

Before he became Patti Smith’s lead guitarist, Lenny Kaye compiled the 2 album set, Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era. Released in 1972, the two-LP set covered American garage rock and psychedelia from the years 1965-1968 and was a major influence on punk rock. Rhino Records reissued an expanded version of the set in 1998, with 118 tracks in total. I’m profiling and rating each of these 118 tracks, working backwards.

Track 39/118: 7 and 7 Is by Love
Release Year: 1966
From: Los Angeles, California
Aphoristic Rating: 9/10

7 AND 7 IS – Love [2:15]
With Arthur Lee
(Arthur Lee)
Personnel/ARTHUR LEE: vocals * JOHN ECHOLS: lead guitar * BRYAN MacLEAN: guitar * KEN FORSSI: bass * ALBAN “SNOOPY” PFISTERER: drums
Produced by JAC HOLZMAN
Recorded in Hollywood, CA
Elektra single #EK-45605 (6/66); Pop #33

Arthur Lee’s Love are one of the highest-profile bands on Nuggets – along with Warren Zevon and Creedence Clearwater Revival, they’re the act that you’re most likely to find in a music nerd’s vinyl collection. In particular, 1967’s Forever Changes often makes it onto significant album lists.

Lee was born in Memphis, Tennessee, but moved to L.A. at the age of five. He’d played R&B, but The Byrds inspired him to meld folk-rock into it. Former Byrds roadie Bryan MacLean joined Lee in his new band, originally called The Grass Roots. The band lived communally in a rundown mansion, and launched their career with a cover of Bacharach and David’s ‘My Little Red Book’.

From their second album Da Capo, ‘7 and 7 Is’ was the band’s highest-charting single. The most significant musical element is Ken Forssi’s huge-sounding bass, achieved by feedback from his semi-acoustic instrument. Lee’s vocal is frenzied and intense – he was later referred to as “the first punk rocker”. It’s one of the most unique songs on Nuggets, sounding like a weird mid-point between James Brown and Jefferson Airplane.

Love went on to make Forever Changes, with Bryan MacLean playing a more active role as a songwriter and vocalist alongside Lee. But the initial band fractured shortly afterwards – Lee continued on with a different lineup, but the band’s final studio album was released in 1974. Guitarist Johnny Echols still tours as Love, but other key members are long gone. Forssi and MacLean passed away in the late 1990s, while Lee was in jail for firearms offences. Lee reformed Love after leaving prison but was unable to perform on a planned 2005 tour – he succumbed to leukemia in 2006.

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12 Comments

  1. The drums make the track chaotic which isn’t a bad thing. I’ve read about this band some but never really heard them. I agree with the pre-punk statement about his vocals. High intensity… I liked it more on the second and third listen.

    • I think the original drummer left soon after this, they had to do a lot of takes of this song because the drummer struggled to get it right.

      • The drumming fueled the song but it was awkward…I did like Lee’s aggressive vocals. I have read some about them…but just never heard them.

  2. This is a real classic one and I like it and I like the ending too. It’s not as great of a song as My Little Red Book though, but what is? And I like the sound of the Standells one a little better. Some guys I know think Forever Changes is like the greatest album ever but to me it just sounds like a not-as-good Moody Blues. I think this song is better .

  3. Love is another piece of evidence that the best California musical legacy of the 60s came from Los Angeles and not from San Francisco. After all these years, nothing from SF (I am talking about music, not social revolution, etc.), can match The Beach Boys, The Byrds, The Doors, Buffalo Springfield, The Mamas & The Papas, Love, to mention the most relevant. The bands from SF were relevant but more for sociological reasons: Jefferson Airplane, Greatful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Blue Cheer, Moby Grape, Sly. Maybe the grestest from SF was Santana.

    • I think Los Angeles wins pretty easily, even though I have a lot of time for The Grateful Dead and Sly.

  4. Great song and yet another one of the many in this gift-keeps-on-giving compilation I had not heard before. Apparently, Love’s follow-up album “Forever Changes” is remarkable. Apple Music calls it “a Sgt. Pepper-scaled baroque ‘n’ roll masterpiece, albeit one that swapped out childlike whimsy for a creepy paranoia that anticipated the end of the hippie dream” – jeez, I could never come up with kind of deep-sounding stuff!

    • I like Forever Changes, but it’s not quite up there with Sgt Peppers for me. Valiant effort though. It’s much more baroque and less rock than this song.

  5. I think I went over the limit already for Top Fives. I probably said about 10 were top fives which of course isn’t possible. And there’s still about 10 more to go, so I better start saying top 15 or 20. Or try to narrow it down a little more or something.

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Aphoristic Album Reviews is almost entirely written by one person. It features album reviews and blog posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.

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Graham Fyfe has been writing this website since his late teens. Now in his forties, he's been obsessively listening to albums for years. He works as a web editor and plays the piano.

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