Arthur Lee, alone again…
Listen -Arthur Lee & Love – 7 and 7 Is – MP3
Is everyone ready for the weekend?
I’m sitting here in NJ lulled into somnolence by a week of unending cloud cover, unseasonably low temperatures and finally, today, a veritable deluge. If the mailman is bringing me some records today, he’d better not let them get wet or I just might crack up.
In an attempt to get things back on course I figured I pull one of the big guns out of the arsenal, a record so powerful, so undeniable in its punk fury, that any befogged brain would be returned to working order immediately.
The record in question is an early 45 by my all time favorite 60s band, Arthur Lee and Love.
The song in question: “7 and 7 Is”.
Here’s what I said about it in an obit I wrote when Lee passed in 2006:
“The first Love record I actually owned was a Rhino ‘Best Of’ that came out in 1980. Though that record contained the song that would become my favorite – ‘Your Mind and We Belong Together’ – the tune that blew my mind wide open from the first listen was ’7 and 7 Is’.
Though Love had (and has) been unfairly lumped in with the Nuggets crowd, due to the ‘one hit wonder’-ism of ‘My Little Red Book’, their punkiest record met, and transcended the greasy teenage swagger of 6T’s punk in a way that even today is hard to comprehend.
Packing more energy into its two minutes and nineteen seconds than some bands are able to produce in entire careers, ’7 and 7 Is’ is as raw and savage a statement (if perhaps lyrically obtuse in a way not at all atypical for its time) as rock music has ever seen, and ending it with a sound-effects record explosion – a notion that might have damned a lesser record to an oblivion of novelty – seems today not only acceptable, but an absolutely necessary bit of punctuation.”
‘7 and 7 Is’ is what the current phrase factory would term a ‘game changer’. Once you’ve heard it, nothing before or after will sound quite the same. It puts most of what has passed for punk rock in the last four decades to shame, revealing it as gutless posing. I don’t know what was going through Arthur Lee’s mind when he wrote the song, but when he entered the studio with Love to record it, he was clearly gunning for bear. It is at once uncompromising, direct, brutal and revealing (while simultaneously completely opaque) and one of those records that sounds as if its grooves can barely contain the power within.
If you already know it, employ its many wonders as a mental palate cleanser of sorts. If you do not, brace yourself and get back to me when you recover.
I’m going outside to shake my fist at the sky.