19 December 2007

Insightful but oftentimes pretentious

Forever Changes (Thirty Three and a Third Series)
Andrew Hultkrans
Continuum International Publishing Group, 2003

At times insightful, while at other times pretentious, this slim volume attempts an exegesis of the 1967 Love masterpiece in terms of its historical and spiritual context. Bleaker and far more inventive (musically and lyrically) than most of its psychedelic peers, Forever Changes is a prophetic work, according to the author, because it described the seeds of destruction present in the naivete of the flower power movement. The author's weakest moments, to me, come when he tries to connect the album to Gnosticism, a subject about which he does not seem to know much. (Perhaps his connections would have been more successful had he related the album to the perennial philosophy in more general terms, since many of the ideas he ascribes to Gnosticism could also just as easily be found in Hinduism and Buddhism.) Despite the author's pretensions, the book is a well-written, thought-provoking skeleton key to one of the most interesting rock albums ever recorded. (What we really need is for Julian Cope to write a guide to this album...)

(This review was originally written April 24, 2006.)

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