Love - Wonder People (I Do Wonder)
Unreleased track, 1967 (collected as a bonus track on the 2001 Rhino/Elektra reissue of Forever Changes)
It was reported on the evening of August 3, 2006, that Love frontman Arthur Lee had died that afternoon, after battling leukemia. One of the most infuriating men in rock and roll history -- the definitive Lee biography has yet to be written, but I have no doubt that it will reveal that even his closest friends regularly wanted to kick him in the nuts -- Arthur Lee was also an artist of uncommon grace and delicacy. That one man could write both the stomping proto-punk of "Seven and Seven Is," one of the most unhinged records of the 1960s, and the dreamy "She Comes In Colors" on the same album is indicative of the duality at his core, and it was a huge part of what first drew me to Love as a high school senior when I picked up Rhino's mid-80s best-of almost entirely on a whim, having never heard the band before. (By the time I graduated, I was among those who thought Forever Changes was one of the greatest albums of all time.) Willfully self-destructive and possessing a legendarily violent mean streak, Lee could also be utterly charming; at one of his last concerts in Boston, in 2003, he was funny, self-deprecating and obviously grateful for the attention, but he was also every bit the cocky, no-bullshit frontman.
The glorious "Wonder People (I Do Wonder)" was written and recorded during the sessions for Lee's masterpiece, the epic Forever Changes, but left out of the final running order, supposedly because Lee thought this uncharacteristically optimistic, peppy song didn't fit with the bleakness at the album's core. (There's also the fact that the mod-a-go-go horn part is very reminiscent of the one that powers "Maybe the People Would Be the Times Or Between Clark and Hilldale," itself the one vaguely hopeful song on the record.) For all the depression and paranoia on display throughout Forever Changes, "Wonder People (I Do Wonder)" is as summery as a Lovin' Spoonful or Harpers Bizarre single, and proof that for all of his well-documented faults, Arthur Lee did have a sweet side. Our thoughts go to his wife Diane and his friends.