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Love's DVD Love Story is a feature length documentary recounting the story of the quintessential L.A. band Love and their singer Arthur Lee. The DVD includes one hour of bonus features as well as liner note from Bobby Gillespie making this the definitive Love DVD. The film includes rarely seen TV performances from 1966 & 1970 plus rare and unseen archive photographs. Love Story premiered at the 50th London Film Festival and features interviews with band members Arthur Lee (sadly his last ever interviews), Johnny Echols, Bryan Maclean, Alban "Snoopy" Pfisterer, Michael Stuart, John Fleckenstein and Robert Rozelle, as well as Elektra Records head Jac Holzman, producer Bruce Botnick, The Doors' John Densmore and arranger David Angel.
After Arthur Lee's release from prison and his subsequent touring for the Forever Changes album which produced the 2005 DVD, The Forever Changes Concert, Love fans finally had some footage documenting the late Lee's effervescent performances as lead singer and songwriter of this great pop band. Previously, only secondhand biographies, such as Andrew Hulktrans' well-written book, attempted to piece together Love's intrigue and disintegration. But long have we craved vintage film evidence of this Los Angeles group's ascension from the Hollywood hippie underground. Love Story is a fabulous documentary tracing every detail of Love's formation and the release of each album. Spliced with ample vintage film clips, it is organized chronologically, beginning with the stories of Arthur Lee and Johnny Echols meeting in high school told from their perspectives. Infamous for their disagreements and Lee's notoriously difficult personality, Love Story explains from each band member's point of view, what happened to this band slated to become the next Doors or Byrds. Love Story is engaging and quite hilarious. History told by band members interviewed independently of one another makes for wild variation. Bryan Maclean candidly discusses his struggles for recognition, while other band mates, Echols, Snoopy Pfisterer, and Michael Stuart reveal what occurred behind the scenes. Of course, most entertaining throughout is Arthur Lee starring himself. In a never ending array of hats, bandanas, and shades, he cruises the filmmakers Chris Hall and Mike Kerry around his home turf by car, pointing out where he went to school, where the band used to live, and the spaces where clubs they played once thrived. As cliché as it may sound, Love Story really is indispensable for any Love fanatic. --Trinie Dalton
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Guitarist Johnny Echols gets just about as much screen time as Arthur Lee but Echols seems to give a truer account of the band and its history while trying not to put down anybody. There are also interviews with original bassist and future Standell John Fleckenstien, Snoopy Pfisterer (drummer #2 and keyboardist) Michael Stuart (drummer #3), Elektra records founder Jac Holzman, engineer Bruce Botnik (who produced "Forever Changes") and Door's drummer John Densmore. David Angel is also tapped for information because he was the orchestral arranger for "Forever Changes" and gives a more musical insight on the way Arthur Lee worked on the arrangements.
There is old interview footage of the late Bryan Maclean, and a taped interview of the late Mike Forrsi. If you want the definitive history of the band LOVE than this is for you.
Be forewarned you may walk away from this film with the impression that Arthur Lee was a self-absorbed jerk and the only reason for the bands failure to make it big was due to his lack of motivation while blaming everybody and everything for his failure instead of himself. And you would be right because that's the saddest thing about the group, they could have been as big as the Doors but they choose to bum around LA content with being a popular group in California while blaming Elektra records for lack of promotion and racism.
The DVD also comes with bonus footage and contains extended interviews with Echols, and Arthur Lee. Then there is some extra footage with Snoopy, in which he demonstrates the proper way to listen, dance and dress when listening to his new compositions. Overall, a great package for fans of 60's rock as well as documentaries.
The documentary's main focus is on the formative years of the band and the creation of the first three albums. So those who cut their teeth on the earliest incarnations of the enigmatic musical phenomenon that is Arthur Lee and Love will enjoy Love Story most.
What you get is a series of interviews with former band members and a few music industry personalities who were crucial to the band's introduction to the wider listening public all interspersed with live clips of the band and shots of its former haunts. An appropriate soundtrack augments discussions of the chronology of Love's development and eventual demise.
In the course of the documentary, Arthur Lee is often charming but sometimes comes off as an obnoxious boor. You can feel his intellectual heft, but you will also see how his arrogance and caprice kept the band from going on to the heights merited by its rarefied talent. Lee and Johnny Echols blame the putative racism of both the public and the record company, but the reality is that Lee's aversion to the discipline and hard work of touring ensured that Love's base was largely restricted to California.
Lee's musical resurrection and his triumphant Forever Changes concert in England following his release from prison is one of the high points. But in some of the later clips, it is almost painful to watch as an apparently dying Lee(leukemia)struggles to collect and express his thoughts.
Echols contributes almost as much to one's understanding of the band as does Lee and obviously enjoys having been given the opportunity to expound on his memories. Other former members contribute much less with Ken Forssi being heard only on a recorded interview. I find the segments featuring the thoughts of Bryan MacLean to be humorous mainly because he looks like he's facing a firing squad while speaking. The few appearances of Alban "Snoopy" Pfisterer are almost as absurd as his nickname and his successor on drums, Michael Stuart-Ware, is given scant opportunity to pontificate.
There are a seven bonus features, the best of which are the illuminating additional commentary of Johnny Echols and Canter's Revisited. Snoopy Goes Solo and When Arthur Met Shack are the worst. Enthusiastic liner notes by Bobby Gillespie would have been more enjoyable if he would have cut the unnecessary profanity in half.
Several good books have been written about Arthur Lee and Love. Love Story fills the documentary void. If you are an old-time Love fan, you will certainly want to add this to your DVD collection.