Bryan MacLean - Ifyoubelievein

Wednesday 1st April 1998
Bryan MacLean - Ifyoubelievein

RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
LABEL: Sundazed

Reviewed by Mike Rimmer

In the late '60s, Bryan Maclean was a member of the hippie band Love. Under Arthur Lee's leadership the band achieved fame and a cult following which endures through to today. Unfortunately Lee's autocratic leadership also meant that he did the lion's share of the songwriting and Maclean's songs seldom saw the light of day on Love's albums. Maclean left the music business in the early '70s having become a Christian and his sister Maria McKee has since kept the flag flying with her musical successes. It was their mother Elizabeth who discovered the tapes of the songs here collected on 'Ifyoubelievein' gathering dust in the garage. They are demos and home recordings made by Bryan between the ages of 17 and 21 and largely rejected by Arthur Lee! As a historical document they are fascinating, as a musical experience they are exquisite as Bryan's songwriting contains a sense of melody and vision rooted in the '60s and a charm that has not dimmed with the passing of time. One can easily imagine how they could have sounded if they'd been given full blown Love treatment. Instead, they are acoustic and skeletal with Bryan's lyrics, voice (often fragile in a Jeff Buckley fashion) and acoustic-guitar capturing a man at the height of his creative powers. 10 of the 16 songs were recorded in 1966/7 whilst the rest are mainly from 1982. Standouts for me include "Strong Commitment" which is a witty ode to singleness! There are two versions of the simply wonderful "Orange Skies" and elsewhere songs like "Barber John". 'Tired Of Sitting" and "People" capture that perfect '60s vibe. There are further songs from the archives due for release but it's not all looking back because Bryan is currently working on a worship album. Can't wait to hear that!

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