FOREVER AMBER The Love Cycle (TP060)

Side One

  1. Me Oh My
  2. Silly Sunshine
  3. Bits Of Your Life, Bits Of My Life
  4. For A Very Special Person
  5. The Dreamer Flies Back
  6. Misunderstood
  7. Better Things Are Bound To Come
  8. On A Night In Winter

Side Two

  1. On Top Of My Own Special Mountain
  2. Mary (The Painter)
  3. All The Colours Of My Book
  4. Going Away Again
  5. A Chance To Be Free
  6. I See You As You Used To Be
  7. Letters From Her
  8. My Friend

Long established as one of the ultimate vinyl rarities (copies are currently valued in excess of £1500) to escape from the British psychedelic era, The Love Cycle was recorded at a local demo studio in the summer of 1968 by Cambridge pop-psych hopefuls Forever Amber. Also now available on CD from Tenth Planet's sister label Wooden Hill, this limited edition pressing (the first-ever legitimate vinyl reissue) features fully restored sound, the original artwork and a glossy insert that tells the story behind the making of the album. Pressed on audiophile 190gm vinyl, this is the definitive vinyl release of one of the greatest, most elusive albums of the British psychedelic era, widely compared to a garage band version of the Zombies' Odessey and Oracle.

 

Album of the Week in The Times

Included in The Guardian's 1000 Albums To Hear Before You Die

Included in Record Collector's 100 Greatest Psychedelic Records

"There's a tangible aura about "lost albums", something that draws you into their parallel universe. Beyond high-profile items such as the Beach Boys' Smile and Prince's Black Album are a wealth of "private pressings', issued in tiny quantities by local bands; almost all are half-baked, classics only to the socially-challenged obsessive. Forever Amber's The Love Cycle, however, resides in a secret garden all of its own, bursting with unfettered melodic glee and the pop experimentation prevalent in the provinces in 1968. The Love Cycle has a distinctly Grantchester Baroque atmosphere - the nearest comparisons are the Zombies and neighbours Pink Floyd, though the naïve yearning of songs such as "Bits Of Your Life' and "Going Away Again' are pretty much their own… A lost classic." (The Times, ****)

"The songs were written by a vocally-challenged lawyer, performed by an amateur Cambridge band he met in a record shop, and recorded in a Hitchin attic. So far, so DIY. But the songs are exquisite, and reside in the same English baroque cottage as the Zombies' Odessey and Oracle. (The Guardian)

" The Love Cycle's closest cousin is the Zombies' Odessey and Oracle - there are also shades of the Left Banke ("Letters From Her') and early Bee Gees ("A Chance To Be Free'). Chris Parren's collection of harpsichord, electric piano and Vox double manual organ dominate the gentler songs at The Love Cycle's optimistic kick-off and sad conclusion (oh yes, it's a concept album). The harmonies are light and tight, and there are bursts of phased guitar freak-out on "Better Things Are Bound To Come' and the jaw-dropping "The Dreamer Flies Back'. Meanwhile, the lyrical naivety of "Me Oh My' and "Bits Of Your Life, Bits Of My Life' ("… were sad, but together we're glad") is perfectly suited to Mick Richardson's quintessentially Cambridge-bred vocals. Everywhere, melody rules. True, The Love Cycle sounds like it was recorded in the attic of a shop in Hitchin. But the complexity of the arrangements and the quality of all sixteen songs make you wonder just how highly it would be rated if Forever Amber and Mr. Hudson had had Abbey Road at their disposal. Even as it is, The Love Cycle is one of the dozen best British pop albums of the late '60s." (Mojo)

"A concept piece chronicling the development and ultimate break-up of an adolescent love affair, the album featured no less than five lead vocalists over its sixteen cuts, which ranged from ornate, Left Banke-leaning harpsichord-based pop to full-blown psychedelic freak-out. "Misunderstood' and "Better Things Are Bound To Come' feature creamy, Beach Boys-style harmonies over tightly constructed melodies, "Silly Sunshine' and "All The Colours Of My Book' are deliriously frothy pop concoctions, and "The Dreamer Flies Back' utilises some "Itchycoo Park'-style phasing that's almost buried by some venomous lead guitar from band member Richard Lane. The overall effect is akin to a low-budget garage band version of the Zombies masterpiece Odessey and Oracle, and would have been a notable achievement for a major label act. For a bunch of provincial kids, it's a staggering achievement." (Record Collector)

"Psych collectors have been salivating like hot bloodhounds over the few remaining original vinyl copies of this album since it belatedly came to light in the 1980s - and now that I've finally got to hear it, I know exactly why. It really is every bit as indispensable a find as its loftily collectable status suggests… A little miracle." (Shindig!)

 

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