Arthur Lee & Love

Black Beauty & Rarities

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While the music on this disc isn't wonderful or even especially good, it does diehard Love fans a considerable service by gathering Arthur Lee's rarest work together in one place. Holding by far the most interest are the first nine cuts, which assemble the rare pre-Love cuts from 1963-65 that Lee was involved with as writer, performer, producer, or some combination thereof. This includes the tame soul instrumentals by the L.A.G.'s in 1963; the far more confident American Four tracks from 1964, highlighted by the exuberant "Twist and Shout" ripoff "Luci Baines" (with Lee vocals); the Curtis Mayfield-ish soul of Ronnie & the Pamona Casuals; the Spectorish production of Little Ray's "I Been Trying"; and the nifty soul of Rosa Lee Brooks' 1964 single "My Diary," which features Jimi Hendrix on guitar. Tracks 10-19 are a 1973 unreleased album by Lee and/or Love, Black Beauty, which unfortunately is typical of the dispirited hard rock Lee was churning out in the early '70s, with occasional flashes of individuality in the folkier moments (as well as the strange cover of the Rooftop Singers' "Walk Right In"). There's also an unreleased 1977 cut, and a couple of decent versions of "Feathered Fish" (which Lee wrote in the mid-'60s, although Love didn't record it) from 1994 that show a bit of the old energy.