OK, I’ll bite.
By the time of their third album, Forever Changes, in 1967, Love – the band – was in real trouble. They were basically two people creatively: Arthur Lee, an intimidating African American dude who’d grown up in South Central Los Angeles and played in folk and R&B bands in dive bars all over southern California for years, and Bryan MacLean, who was a white kid (and music prodigy) of great privilege; he’d grown up in Hollywood with parents who hob-nobbed with the stars (Bryan’s dad was a famous architect who built mansions for the rich and famous and became rich and famous himself).
But it’s June of 1967. Love were one of two rock bands – The Doors being the other – signed to prestigious folk label Elektra. But Love was falling apart. Lee had angrily fired a couple of band members for being too drunk/stoned constantly to even play gigs, and the band was pretty shoddy even when they had their shit kind of together. The first two Love albums were basically '60s garage rock with some folk-ish hues at the edge, with two minor hits: “7 & 7 Is” and “Little Red Book”, both of which became garage punk standards. (Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett was trying to pick out the descending guitar riff on “Little Red Book” in the studio and Roger Waters overheard it and was intrigued…and the two ended up re-purposing that lick, without the syncopation, into their own song, “Astronomy Domine”.)
So Love needed to make a new record, but Arthur Lee and Bryan MacLean didn’t have any confidence the remaining fuck-ups in their band could play any of the songs. They’d also been smitten by the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” album in 1966, and just as they were writing the songs for their new record in May of '67, Sgt. Pepper came out. The two songwriters/singers in Love came up with a bold plan: they’d try to write a record in that vein. It’d be cool to try, for one thing. And they could use session musicians anyway because they’d make it way too complicated for their band to play onstage or in studio.
And that’s how Forever Changes got made and released in 1967. It flopped on release. The record is full of orchestrations, much more quiet pop stuff, and zips all over the map, stylistically. But it came out after the Summer Of Love, and no one wanted to hear what Love was laying down. Forever Changes is a dark and harrowing record. Arthur Lee grew up knowing who the drug dealers and hustlers and pimps and street gangs were in Los Angeles. He knew the bikers and organized crime figures too. And he’d seen shit like the Watts riots close up. and now he was looking at all these dumb kids – some just damaged and broken by how they didn’t fit in, others trying to prey on them, and still others trying to figure out how to get rich off that hippie culture – and realized “This shit is going to come down and it’s gonna be ugly.” For his part, Bryan MacLean related to the lonely hippie kids a lot and also realized: they’re lambs to the slaughter…
No one wanted to hear that in '67, so grim, prophetic songs like “A House is Not A Motel” just scared people off. But after the Manson murders (Manson family member Bobby Beausoleil was an early confidant of Arthur Lee…Lee eventually realized Beausoleil was nuts and running with fucked up people and moved the future murderer to arms-length) and Altamont and the 1968 Democratic Convention, Forever Changes looked a lot more current than it felt at the time, when it was considered this weird, gloomy thing.
To me, Forever Changes is the dangerous-ness that the Doors always wanted to try to capture but couldn’t. It’s become one of the most revered records in pop music over the years, often mentioned in the same breath as Sgt. Pepper or Pet Sounds.
And yep, Hal Blaine was one of the session musicians who was tabbed to please come in and play because the actual band couldn’t handle the arrangements in studio.