Love Story (DVD Review)27 Jul, 2008 By: Billy Gil
There's a lot to love in Love Story, a scrappy documentary about one of the great transcendent psychedelic rock groups.
Love found local fame in the mid-1960s by crafting sinister, baroque tunes that owed as much to classical music as The Beatles. One of the first rock bands to incorporate strings into their compositions, Love's trailblazing ways ensured they would forever remain a musicians' and critics' band.
But Love's 1968 album, Forever Changes, changed everything. No longer an L.A. treasure, Love is now widely considered to have crafted one of the greatest albums of all time. Neophytes should start with Forever Changes, not this documentary, which is mostly for fans.
What Love Story gets right, that so many music docs get wrong, is it focuses on the music and not the “Behind the Music” clich?s of Love's backstory, of which there are plenty — drug abuse, in-fighting and the arrest of Love main man Arthur Lee after he fired a gun into the air in 1996.
Love Story touches on all of these things, as well as Lee's status as one of the first black musicians to front a well-known rock band, but it gives ample time to the musicians and their admirers.
The best moments of Love Story come when the musicians talk about the music itself. Band members Bryan Mac-Lean, John Echols, Michael Stuart and Alban “Snoopy” Pfisterer; John Densmore of the Doors; and Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream give their takes on the music, and the times that spawned it. As the film rolls through the band's history and rise to semi-fame in the L.A. music scene, punctuated by their first taste of success with a mean 1966 cover of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's “My Little Red Book,” we get some sense of what it was like to be there.
But in the end, it's the attention to each of the band's studio albums and live performances that make the biggest impression. It's the music that makes Love Story essential viewing.