Still a hippie at heart, guitarist Johnny Echols talks Love Revisited, the counter-culture, and the Strip in the '60s.
Love guitarist Johnny Echols returns to San Diego to perform the classic Love album Forever Changes. Echols took time out to answer a few questions for the San Diego Reader.
SDR: What do you think are the qualities that make Forever Changes still sound relevant after all this time?
JE: “Forever Changes is timeless because the writing, arranging, and performances are all first rate. The fact that the album is still relevant after all these years is a testament to the genius of Arthur Lee. Along with the inspired performances of Bryan, Kenny, Michael, and Johnny...who created the music that gave life to Arthur's poetry.”
SDR: What songs from the album are your favorites?
JE: “‘A House Is Not a Motel’ and ‘You Set the Scene’ are definitely my favorites. ‘You Set the Scene’ because of the beauty of the words and ‘A House is Not a Motel’ because the song just flat-out rocks.”
SDR: How will this differ from previous Love Revisited shows?
JE: “We have recently added a string and brass section, which allows us to re-create Forever Changes in its entirety, just the way it is on the record...they sound amazing!”
SDR: Love’s influence can be heard on many bands, who, if any, do you listen to?
JE: “I mostly listen to jazz and old-school blues, though I do like one or two current artists...for instance, Gary Clark and the late Amy Winehouse.”
SDR: Did you like the Damned’s version of “Alone Again Or”?
JE: “I have heard several different versions of Bryan's masterpiece, and I think they are all quite good. Though, in reality, ‘Alone Again Or’ is such a great song, one only needs to play it as it’s written and it's almost impossible not to sound good.”
SDR: The ’60s saw the birth of the counter-culture, are you still a believer in the idea or feel it has been sucked into the mainstream?
JE: “Absolutely. I'm still a ‘hippie’ at heart, I think many of the ideals from back in the day are even more relevant today. Such as protecting our environment...dealing responsibly with climate change and exercising good stewardship over this tiny, vulnerable speck of rock we [all] call home. Respecting other cultures...caring for and about those who are less fortunate were laudable goals then and even more so now — live and let live! From my perspective, if the mainstream wants to join in and help make some of these goals a reality...I say welcome aboard!”
SDR: Who embodied the lifestyle of the Sunset Strip scene more than anyone, famous or non-famous?
JE: “Of course, I have to say my group, Love, along with the Doors, Buffalo Springfield, David Crosby, and Neil Young. Each of whom developed a certain style and panache, which has become associated with ‘the Strip.’ Frankly, I would give most of the credit to the people themselves, they were the vanguards who brought an aura of freedom to the whole of California, which was expressed through their choice of dress, music, film, and art...that one period in time has left an indelible mark on an entire culture.”
SDR: Which are your favorite venues and cities to play?
JE: “My favorite places to play are London’s Royal Festival Hall, the Beacon Theatre in New York, and the Whisky in Los Angeles.”
2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
SDR: I’m really looking forward to this, I saw you at the Ugly Things anniversary last year and Tiki Oasis this year, and both were great.
JE: “Thank you...we had such a blast playing at both events and all of us are so looking forward to playing the Casbah on the 22nd of November!”
Johnny Echols and Love Revisited play the Casbah Saturday night, November 22. Support from locals the Loons and West Hollywood “psychedelic country” quintet Bunnynose.