FOREVER AMBER The Love Cycle (WHCD015)

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

9. On Top Of My Own Special Mountain

10. Mary (The Painter)

11. All The Colours Of My Book

12. Going Away Again

13. A Chance To Be Free

14. I See You As You Used To Be

15. Letters From Her

16. My Friend

Bonus tracks

17. Me Oh My

18. Indecision

19. Bits Of My Life

20. A Night In Summer

21. Misunderstood

22. A Chance To Be Free

23. Letters From Her

24. My Friend

One of the rarest albums (copies are currently valued around £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 band Forever Amber. Only previously available on bootleg, it now receives its first-ever legitimate reissue with the full participation of band members and the songwriting genius behind it, the mysterious John M. Hudson. With fully restored sound and a 12-page booklet that includes the original artwork, comprehensive liner notes, band quotes, previously unpublished photos and no less than eight bonus tracks (recorded in 1978 by Hudson and Forever Amber guitarist Richard Lane), this is the definitive issue of one of the greatest, most elusive albums of the British psychedelic era.

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 & Oracle. (The Guardian)

" The Love Cycle's closest cousin is the Zombies' Odessey & 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 & 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!)

"Recorded in the summer of 1968 at a studio in Hitchin, Hertfordshire on a £200 budget and released in a pressing of 99 copies, Forever Amber's sole LP has come to be regarded as one of the more wondrous obscurities in British psychedelic pop. Written and arranged by 18-year-old college student John M. Hudson and performed by a Cambridge semi-pro outfit formerly known as the Country Cousins, the album traces the arc of a failed love affair in sixteen songs arranged into eight movements, beginning with The Meeting and ending with, inevitably, The Grief. Whether or not the album is the lost masterpiece some believe it to be, it's certainly safe to say that anyone with a fondness for the Left Banke or Odessey & Oracle-vintage Zombies will find the sometimes haunting and always melodious sounds of The Love Cycle most agreeable, albeit in a lo-fi way. The bulk of the album was recorded, as we learn in David Wells' notes for this first-time authorised reissue, in one marathon 19-hour session. There was no time, then, to get too clever with the arrangements, and coloration is largely provided by electric harpsichord and other keyboard textures. Front man Michael Richardson sings lead on seven of the tracks, with vocal duties otherwise shared by four other members, notably Tony Mumford (bass), whose falsetto graces 'For A Very Special Person', and Richard Lane (lead guitar), who brings a delicacy reminiscent of Iain Matthews to songs like 'I See You As You Used to Be'. For not a few, the centre of gravity will be the movement titled The Talking, featuring as it does two of the album's heaviest tracks, 'The Dreamer Flies Back', a bathed in phasing beauty that ranks with the finest sonic specimens of the era, and the psyched up Motown of 'Better Things Are Bound To Come'. Perhaps the best is saved for last, though, with the album's closing track, the beautiful - and very spooky - 'My Friend'. John Hudson would eventually pursue, as he says, "a sensible career in accountancy," but in 1978 he and Richard Lane revisited songs from The Love Cycle for an even more ambitious recording project. Eight of the tracks appear here for the first time, and make for a nice postscript to this most welcome reissue." (Ugly Things)

 

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