Black Beauty

Black Beauty

by LoveLove

CD(Bonus Tracks / Digi-Pak / with Booklet)

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In 1973, Arthur Lee's career seemed to be drifting without a clear direction; he'd broken up his band Love, his first proper solo album Vindicator didn't fare well with critics or record buyers, and he'd lost interest in playing live. However, in the spring of that year, Lee decided to take a new approach to his music; while Love had always been a racially integrated group, Lee told drummer Joe Blocker, "I want an all-black band. I want some cats that can play funky and rock." Lee assembled one such band, with Blocker on drums, Melvan Whittington on lead guitar, and Robert Rozelle on bass, and he was excited enough about what they were doing that he soon took them into the studio on his own dime. Lee scored a deal with a fledgling label called Buffalo Records, and he and his band cut an album titled Black Beauty. However, Buffalo went out of business before it could be released to the public. While shoddy sounding bootlegs of the Black Beauty session circulated for years, it wasn't until 2014 that Black Beauty finally received a proper release from the reissue label High Moon. Credited to Love (though no one seems certain that Lee ever meant to release it under the group's name), Black Beauty recalls the hard rock attack of Vindicator, but with a stronger R&B undertow along with Hendrix-influenced songs and guitar work ("Midnight Sun" sounds like something Jimi could have written, and Whittington's soloing captures the mood of Hendrix's playing without lifting his licks), along with some moodier numbers like "Skid" and "See Myself in You." While the title might suggest that Lee had race on his mind in 1973, for the most part these songs deal with the personal over the political, even though "Lonely Pigs" concerns the treatment of African-Americans at the hands of the police, and "Young & Able (Good & Evil)" rails against economic inequality while Lee discusses his taste in the opposite sex ("Gotta have a redskin woman! Give me a Japanese! Spanish woman give me all her lovin'!"). While the semi-reggae "Beep Beep" and a laid-back cover of the folk standby "Walk Right In" reveal Lee's eccentric side was still clearly present, Black Beauty is one of the strongest and most consistent albums of his hard rock period, and if it isn't quite a lost classic, it's the missing link between Vindicator and Love's Reel to Real; it's nearly as good as the former and genuinely superior to the latter. Remastered from an acetate discovered in the 2010s, the audio on High Moon's Black Beauty isn't flawless, but it's acceptable and far better than the bootlegs. The release also includes extensive liner notes, including an excellent essay by Ben Edmonds and interviews with several of Lee's collaborators; serious Arthur Lee fans will find this worthwhile for the booklet alone.

Product Details

Release Date: 11/11/2014
Label: High Moon Records
UPC: 0641444098828
catalogNumber: 1
Rank: 34211

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Love   Primary Artist
Joe Blocker   Percussion,Drums,Vocals
Frank Fayad   Bass
Arthur Lee   Guitar,Harpsichord,Vocals
Don Poncher   Drums
Robert Rozelle   Bass
John Sterling   Guitar
Craig Tarwater   Guitar
Melvan Whittington   Guitar,Harpsichord
Matt Devine   Bass,Guitar,Vocals
Byron Reynolds   Drums
Riley Racer   Dobro

Technical Credits

Tom T. Hall   Composer
Gus Cannon   Composer
Greg Allen   Art Direction
Joe Blocker   Liner Notes
Ben Edmonds   Liner Notes
Arthur Lee   Composer,Lyricist,Producer
John Sterling   Liner Notes,Photo Courtesy
Melvan Whittington   Arranger,Liner Notes
Hosea Woods   Composer
Chris Boyle   Photo Courtesy
Michael Butler   Executive Producer
Steve Stanley   Cover Design,Layout
Matt Devine   Producer,Engineer,Liner Notes
Max Julien   Liner Notes,Photo Courtesy
Steven Rosen   Liner Notes,Interviewer
Riley Racer   Composer
Raghu Ghadoke   Engineer
Neal Ames   Memorabilia
Diane Lee   Liner Notes,Photo Courtesy
Angela Rackley   Composer

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