At Home He's a Tourist

He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Robert Christgau Word of the Day

pan·o·ply n. pl. pan·o·plies
1. A splendid or striking array: a panoply of colorful flags.
2. Ceremonial attire with all accessories: a portrait of the general in full panoply.
3. Something that covers and protects: a porcupine's panoply of quills.
4. The complete arms and armor of a warrior. (

Love Forever Changes [Columbia, 1967]
"Art-rock," sneers my wife, who's never heard it before. "Movie music," Greil Marcus recalls fondly. "I just played it this week," R. Meltzer tells me--and then places its release in early 1968 because it came out the day before a well-remembered abortion. All wrong. It came out November 1967, and neither art-rock nor movie music, no matter how fondly recalled, will permit a song that begins with an elegantly enunciated "Oh, the snot has caked against my pants/It has turned into crystal." Arthur Lee was always too oblique for his own good. Here he counterposes a background-music feel and a delightful panoply of studio effects against his own winning skepticism and the incipient Jaggerishness of his pseudo-Johnny Mathis vocals. Perhaps because it retains so much humor, his battle cry--"We're all normal and we want our freedom"--hasn't dated, the melodies really hang in there, and only Steely Dan has ever attempted a record so simultaneously MOR and anti-MOR. A- (


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