Love Black Beauty Vinyl

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Love Black Beauty Vinyl. 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. ~ Mark Deming


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