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
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.