Band members                             Related acts

  line up x (1971)

- Jay Donnellan -- lead guitar

- Frank Fayad -- bass

- Arthur Lee -- vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards, harmonica

- Nooney Rickett -- rhythm guitar, backing vocals

- George Suranowich -- drums, percussion


  line up x (1972)

- Frank Fayad -- bass

- Arthur Lee -- vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards, harmonica

- Nooney Rickett -- rhythm guitar, backing vocals

NEW - Gary Rowles -- lead guitar (replaced  Jay Donnellan)

- George Suranowich -- drums, percussion


  supporting musicians

- Jimi Hendrix -- lead guitar


  line up x (1974)

- Sherwood Akuna -- bass

- Joey Blocker -- drums, percussion

- Arthur Lee -- vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards, harmonica

- Robert Rozelle -- bass

- John Sterling -- slide guitar, rhythm guitar

- Melvan Whittington -- lead guitar, rhythm guitar


  backing musicians (1974)

- Gary Bell -- synthesizers

- Wilber Brown -- horns

- Fred Carter -- horns

- John Clauder -- horns

- Alan De Ville -- horns

- Joey Deaguero -- vibes

- Venetta Fields -- backing vocals

- Buzz Feiten -- lead guitar

- Art Fox -- acoustic guitar

- Bobby Lyle -- keyboards

- Harvey Mandel -- lead guitar

- Herman McCormick -- percussion

- Jesse Smith-- backing vocals

- Clifford Solomon -- horns

- Billy Sprague -- horns

- Carlina Williams-- backing vocals






- The American Four

- Baby Lemonade

- Blue Mountain Eagle (Don Poncher)

- Cottonwood

- Geronimo Black
- Arthur Lee and the L.A.G.'s

Arthur Lee (solo efforts)

- Morning

- Noon Express (Frank Fayad, Gary Rowles, Noony Rickett, and 

  George Suranowich

- Nooney Ricjkett and the Nooney RIckett Four

- Ronnie and the Pomona Casuals

- Sons of Adam

- The Surfaris




Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  False Start

Company: Blue Thumb

Catalog: BTS 8822

Country/State: LA, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 326

Price: $25.00


Best time to play: doing the weekly laundry.


1970's "False Start'" is one of the Love album's that gets slammed by listeners, or simply ignored by folks.  Admittedly it isn't the eclectic, summer-of-love sound that originally propelled Arthur Lee and the original Love line-up into critical darlings.  But I guess that's understandable given it was recorded in 1970, not 1967 ...   Featuring the talents of bassist Frank Fayad, rhythm guitarist Nooney Rickett, lead guitarist Gary Rowles (replacing Jay Donnellan), and drummer George Suranowich, this latter line-up may not have shared the musical sophistication of the original Love line-up, but what they lacked in originality, they more than made up for with solid rock and roll credentials (check out the live version of 'Stand Out').  Rowles was particularly good, showing a distinct Hendrix influence throughout the album, though he was far more than a wannbe clone.   The original Love could never have handled conventional hard rockers like the opener 'The Everlasting First' (showcasing Jimi Hendrix), or 'Stand Out'..  And that seems to have been what Lee was aiming for - a harder rocking, less eclectic version of Love.  I'll also tell you Lee sounded great on most of the tracks, showcasing the fact he could effortlessly belt out harder rock material.  One complaint - this was one short album; not even half an hour of material here.


"False Start" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) The Everlasting First   (Arthur Lee - Jimi Hendrix) - 3:01   rating: **** stars

Geez, do you need to say anything more than Hendrix ?    Yeah, I know there are some folks who don't think he actually played on the tune, but to my ears the sound's pretty unmistakable.  Okay, Hendrix provided the song's main selling point, but musically it was actually a killer tune with Lee turning in a truly inspired vocal over some surprisingly thought provoking lyrics. The fact the track sounded like a somewhat demo gave it additional appeal - the band really sounded like they were having fun.  Too bad there wasn't an extended version since it sounded like they were really getting into a groove just as the song faded out.  (Rowles has said they actually recorded a twenty minute version of the song.)  Forget the Donovan-styled hippy stuff of the first three albums ...  The track was tapped as a single:

- 1970's'The Everylasting First' b/w 'Keep On Shining' (Blue Thumb catalog number 7116)

2.) Flying   (Arthur Lee) - 2:37   rating: *** stars

Kicked along by an old-fashioned sounding barrelhouse piano powered melody, 'Flying' was a strange little ditty.  It took awhile to get acclimated to the tune, but if you gave it a chance, Lee's breezy vocals ultimately won you over.   In contrast Gary Rowle's fuzz solo sounded way out of place on this one.   

3.) Gimi a Little Break   (Arthur Lee) - 4:10  rating: *** stars

Opening up with some nice Fayad bass, 'Gimi a Little Break' was a surprisingly funky and commercial tune.  Lee seldom sounded as upbeat ...   

4.) Stand Out (live)   (Arthur Lee) - 3:35   rating: **** stars

Recorded while touring in England, the live version of 'Stand Out' was a curiosity since the studio version had seen daylight on the previous  "Out Here" LP.  While I have no idea why it was included on this album, the live track literally kicked the crap out of the rest of the album's studio cuts.   The combination of Lee's snarling delivery, Gary Rowles blazing guitar the crushing Fayad and George Suranowich rhythm section gave this one a very Hendrix-like feel.  Great tune underscoring they could rock with the best of the competition.   

5.) Keep On Shining   (Arthur Lee) - 3:50   rating: ** stars

I guess it took awhile to get acclimated to the song's country-twinge ...  it may have taken me a bit longer than others and to be honest, it wasn't a genre that fit Lee and company particularly well.  The fact the song wasn't particularly tuneful, or memorable didn't exactly help the situation.  While it served as a 'B' side in the States, 'Keep On Shining' was an 'A' side throughout most of the world.

























- 1970's 'Keep On Shining' b/w 'The Everlasting First' (various labels and catalog numbers)


(side 2)
1.) Anytime   (Arthur Lee) - 3:23
  rating: **** stars

'Anytime' started out as a surprisingly melodic tune before morphing into an enjoyable blues-based number that again showcased Lee's voice.  The man could belt it out.  Kudos to Rowles for turning in some wonderful lead guitar.   

2.) Slick Dick   (Arthur Lee) - 3:05  rating: *** stars

Yeah, 'Slick Dick' was mildly funny, but ultimately hasn't dated well and was a bit too cute for its own good.  Rowles again turned in some inspiring lead guitar, but it wasn't enough to salvage this country-rocker that sounded a bit like a Michael Nesmith tune on steroids.   

3.) Love Is Coming   (Arthur Lee) - 1:24   rating: **** stars

Kicked along by a nifty little Rowles lead guitar figure, the brief  'Love Is Coming'  was simultaneously one of the album's most commercial songs and one of the few to look back to Lee's earlier influences.  Lovely. 

4.) Feel Daddy Feel Good   (Arthur Lee) - 3:15  rating: *** stars

So how to describe 'Feel Daddy Feel Good' ?   Lee and company do The Grafeful Dead ?   That's actually a pretty good comparison with the song exhibiting the kind of hazy country-rock vibe that Garcia and company excelled at.  Interesting, it not entirely convincing.

5.) Ride That Vibration   (Arthur Lee) - 3:34    rating: **** stars

With a pretty, almost fey melody, hippy-dippy lyrics, killer Rowles guitar solo, and extended freak-out fade out section, 'Ride That Vibration' was probably the song that came closest to capturing Love's earlier sound.  Very nice way to close out the album.  


It wasn't a perfect Love album and certainly wasn't the place to start exploring Lee's catalog.  On the other hand, it's far better than the reviews would have you believe.  


Commercially the album did little, peaking at # 184.  Within a matter of months Rowles quit.  He was briefly replaced by guitarist John Sterling, which was followed by Lee deciding to dismiss the band and strike out on his own.


SRB 12/2017






Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Reel To Real

Company: RSO

Catalog: SD 4804

Country/State: LA, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: includes the original customer inner sleeve with credits and lyrics

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 3336

Price: $30.00


Best time to play: cold Sunday mornings



1972 saw Arthur Lee embark on what should have been a promising solo career with the release of  the album "Vindicator".  The collection sold poorly and A&M quickly dropped Lee.  


Frustrated with the major labels, in 1973  Lee went into the studios recording an album tentatively titled "Black Beauty".  Original plans were to release the album on his own Buffalo Records label, but financial support  for the project collapsed.  When Lee offered the project to Robert Stigwood, the label passed, instead agreeing to sign Lee, but strongly suggesting he consider restoring the Love nameplate.  Lee responded by recruiting the band he'd recorded "Black Beauty" with to serve as the new Love - bass player Sherwood Akuna  drummer Joey Blocker, and  guitarist  Melvan Whittington.  


Armed with a major label recording budget, longtime Lee admirer Skip Taylor stepped in to produce the follow-up collection - 1974's "Reel To Real".  While the album may have been billed as a Love product, for all intents and purposes, it served as another Lee solo effort; albeit an album that featured one of the year's larger casts of supporting musicians (22 by my count).  Musically the album was somewhat scattershot.  The most interesting feature came in the form of Lee's apparent discovery of soul music.  Backed by some punchy horns, 'With a Little Energy' combined a Hi Records sound with some uplifting, social change lyrics. Elsewhere 'Stop the Music' and 'Good Old Fashion Dream' sounded like Lee had overdosed on Otis Redding albums, while the album's lone cover was a pleasant, if out-of-place remake of William DeVaughn's mid-'70s classic 'Be Thankful for What You Got'.  Elsewhere the album featured a series of Lee remakes.   The rocking 'Singing Cowboy' had previously appeared on the Love's "Four Sail" album, while the Hendrix-styled rocker 'Busted Feet' and the closing acoustic ballad 'Everybody's Gotta Live' had been on his "Vindicator" solo album.  You can spend a lot of time debating whether the originals, or the remakes were better.  I'm split on the subject.  I think the ' Everybody's Gotta Live' remake is superior, with the other two originals being superior.  Regardless, I can clearly remember being less than overwhelmed by the album the first couple of times I spun it.  Luckily I held on to the album and over time it's variety and charms have revealed themselves to my ears. 



And what about Ron Durr's truly hideous cover art?  Bassist described it as: "[The] cover is the "real" baby Arthur Lee in a glass bubble womb, with an umbilical tube connected to a tape "reel" worked through Love."   Okay, that helps clear it up.   LOL


With financial backing from RSO, Lee and company hit the road in support of the album.  Unfortunately the tour went badly with Lee's growing drug problems manifesting itself in increasingly unstable behavior.  RSO promptly dropped him from its recording roster.








"Reel To Real" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Time Is Like a River   (Arthur Lee) - 3:08   rating: *** stars

Lee and company taking a stab at getting funky ...  Unfortunately his voice was to wispy and frail to carry if off with conviction.  Adding the female backing singers, horns, and studio effects just underscored he lacked the power to carry the genre. That didn't stop RSO from tapping it as the leadoff single:

- 1974's'Time Is Like a River' b/w 'With a Little Energy' (RS catalog number SO 502)

2.) Stop the Music   (Arthur Lee) - 2:01   rating: *** stars

With a bluesy, '50s vibe, the ballad 'Stop the Music' was totally unexpected.  I wasn't expecting to hear Lee channeling Otis Redding.   John Sterling of slide guitar.    

3.) Who Are You?   (Arthur Lee) - 3:06 rating: **** stars

Arthur Lee and Love dipping their toes into Latin-percussion tinged dance music?   The world is coming to an end ...   Even more surprising, the lightweight and frothy tune was fun with some killer, Santana-esque lead guitar.  Baby, get those dance shoes on.

4.) Good Old Fashion Dream   (Arthur Lee) - 2:51   rating: ** stars

Geez, when did I slip this Stax album on?   Seriously, kicked along by some blazing horns and those abrasive backing singers, you were left to wonder why Lee thought he could pull of Bob Seger trying to do an Otis Redding impersonation.   Unlike the earlier 'Stop the Music' this one was seriously ill advised.

5.) Which Witch Is Which   (Arthur Lee) - 2:01  rating: **** stars

Shame it was so short, but 'Which Witch Is Which' was one of the album's most entertaining tracks.  A rather simple, acoustic blues number with Lee multi-tracking his voice, the backwards guitar solos injected an interesting lysergic element.

6.) With a Little Energy   (Arthur Lee) - 2:56   rating: *** stars

Seemingly Lee's tribute to Hi Records ...  Backed by some punchy horns, 'With a Little Energy' packed a dance-ready melody with some cute, socially relevant lyrics. Yeah, the lyrics sound a little dated in the 2000s, but so what?   Sounding like something off an Atari game, I've always loved Gary Bell's synthesizers.


(side 1)

1.) Singing Cowboy   (Arthur Lee - Jay Donnellan) - 3:07   rating: **** stars

Singing Cowboy' was a curiosity given it was a remake of a tune that had previously appeared on Love's "Love for Sale".  To my ears the remake wasn't all that different. maybe a little less rock oriented.  The "secret sauce" on the remake came in the form of Joey Blocker's frenetic drumming.  Another album highlight.

2.) Be Thankful for What You Got   (William DeVaughn) - 4:31   rating: **** stars

Give Lee credit for having first rate taste when it came to picking cover material.  Musically his cover didn't really mess with DeVaughn's original.  Yeah, he speeded it up a tad and the arrangement wasn't quite as silky smooth original, but the tune remained instantly recognizable.  "Diamond in the back; sun roof top; digging the scene with a gangsta lean ..."

3.) You Said You Would   (Arthur Lee) -3:00   rating: **** stars

With a bouncy, garage rock feel, 'You Said You Would' was one of my favorite tunes on the album.  Lee actually sounded like he was enjoying life on this one.  RSO tapped it as a promotional single, but doesn;t seem to have released it commercially:





- 1974's 'You Said You Would' b/w 'You Said You Would' (RSO catalog number SO 506).









4.) Busted Feet   (Arthur Lee - Charles Karp) - 2:33   rating: **** stars

The heavy funk workout 'Busted Feet' was one of two tracks that had previously appeared n Lee's "Vindicator" album.  Maybe it was just my ears, but the song sure seemed to have a Hendrix-esque flavor.   Nice performance.

5.) Everybody's Gotta Live   (Arthur Lee) -3:18   rating: **** stars

Another "Vindicator" tune, featuring a drunken studio chorus, the acoustic ballad 'Everybody's Gotta Live' was a nice way to end the album. 


SRB 01/2018