As good as the debut is, it's really with the next two albums that Love really left its mark. The first of these, Da Capo, was released in 1967, and includes their only top-40 hit, "7 & 7 Is", a rollicking rollercoaster ride of punk rock. The single peaked at #33, but the album stalled at #80; hurt most likely by a stubborn refusal to tour.
Da Capo, released in 1967, has an almost perfect A-side. A full-blown psychedelic album, Lee's songwriting had matured and flowered; "She Comes In Colors" is a lush, flute-driven electric fantasy, "Stephanie Knows Who" veers into jazz territory, the multi-part "The Castle" includes a Spanish guitar, McLean's "Orange Skies" is built around the melody line of the guitar solo from the Bryds' "The Bells Of Rhymney". The only thing that mars this otherwise excellent album is "Revelation", the 19-minute suite that takes up side B.
The band. however, was already beginning to dissipate. It was the height of the Summer Of Love, and drug problems rendered the band so useless that Elektra decided to record the next album with sessionmen backing Lee and Maclean; the tearful band was told to take a hike. Two tracks for the next album were completed with session players before the band was able to get a grip and perform properly in the studio. When they did, they came up with one of the greatest albums of the late 60's, Forever Changes.
Constantly chosen by the music press as one of the greatest albums of all time, Forever Changes barely made a ripple in the U.S., peaking at #154 on the charts in 1968; it put in a somewhat better showing in England. This album stands as Lee's crowning achievement, a visionary mix of styles featuring Lee's trembling voice, bizarre psychedelic poetry in the lyrics, shimmering, delicate guitar work, hints of flamenco and jazz, showtune influence, and dark orchestral passages. Maclean contributes to classics of his own, including the signature quasi-flamenco "Alone Again Or". Lee comes up with classics like the folk-rockish "A House Is Not A Motel", the Stones-ey "Bummer In The Summer", the paranoid "The Red Telephone", an anti-war suite "Live And Let Live", and the complex "The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This". It's psychedelic, but not in the same way as the hippie bands or the British bands; it has a delicate, understated, flowing quality to it that renders all of their disparate experiments into an apparantly seamless whole. It still makes for fresh listening today.