Following Forever Changes, however, Lee decided to fire the band. In all likelihood, this was done with an eye towards both finding musicians with enough chops to back Lee's vision, and also to get rid of the recurring drug problems that were holding the band back. Whatever the reason, this decision marked the sudden end of Lee's ascendency as a critical musician; as early as the next album, Lee's talents seemed to have deserted him.
Four Sail, released in 1969, was the first album released with the new Love, little more than an amalgamation of sessionmen. Lee's songwriting and singing, which take on an urgent, manic bent, are still in good form here, but the new band leans heavy on their instruments; Four Sail, despite some good songs, sounds like pedestrian hard rock in too many places, losing the eclectic virtuosity that graced their first three releases. The album did little to help Love's waning commercial fortunes, peaking at #102. Out Here, from 1970, followed in a similar hard-rock style, with Lee's songwriting skills deteriorating farther, the band given over to long psychedelic jams and Steppenwolf-sounding rockers. While Lee remained quirky and unpredictable, neither of these albums offered any of the transendent pleasures of Da Capo or Forever Changes. Out Here peaked at #176.
Lee must have known things weren't working out; for Love's next album, he moved to London for the recording sessions, and met up with Jimi Hendrix, who he talked into guesting on the opening track of False Start, called "The Everlasting First". A loose, bluesy jam, edited together from a longer session, the song works well; it remains one of Hendrix' last works. "Keep On Shining" is another good song from the album, a peace and love sentiment that found a place in Lee's solo live shows. But by this point, Love no longer had the critics on their side, and the album managed a weak #184 on the charts.
And that, for all intents and purposes, was that. Lee cut a solo record in 1972, Vindicator, that failed to chart, and then revived the Love name for what essentially was another solo disc, Reel To Real in 1974. Neither charted nor received any positive critical notice. A final solo disc, Arthur Lee, appeared in 1977, and since then Lee has been limited to sporadic performing, both solo and with new versions of Love. Some of these latter-day shows have been released on CD and sound pretty good, but they're little more than exercises in nostalgia. Lee spent 6 years in prison in the 1990's for firing a gun at a neighbor during an argument; he had other brushes with the law just prior to this incident.
Lee remains an enigma; a hard-to-pigeonhole artist in the 60's, a tragically underachieving solo act in the 70's, a solid oldies performer between trips to jail in the 90's. Lee is currently free, and performing again.