Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Elektra Records Spotlight: Love - Stephanie Knows Who and Orange Skies

Stephanie Knows Who
Orange Skies
Elektra three. 

Day one of this series talked about how Elektra President, Jac Holzman, narrowly missed out on the hottest band on the Sunset Strip due to a moment of hesitation (you can read that article here). Day two talked about how staff producer, Paul Rothchild, flew to Chicago to sign a racially-mixed buzz-creating band before they could get stolen away. (you can read that article here). But that band wasn't about to become hit makers. Not by a long shot.

Day three has us here, learning from those two experiences and filled with Love. 

Elektra Records combined their first two forays into the world of rock-n-roll and finally got the rock band they were looking for on their third attempt. A bona fide Sunset Strip sensation (like The Byrds) and racially mixed band (like the Paul Butterfield Blues Band) who created songs like few others could. The band was Love and featured a roadie from The Byrds and a charismatic frontman in Arthur Lee. The band hit it right out of the gate for Elektra Records with their massive reimagining of Burt Bacharach's My Little Red Book. That single charted at No. 52 nationally and finally gave Elektra a rack upon which they could hang their hat. They were real players with a real rock band.

Paul Rothchild and Jac Holzman gave the band great latitude to experiment in the studio. That resulted in one of the wildest (and complicated to record) singles in Love's impressive sophomore release, Lee's A-bomb of a song, 7&7 is...

We feature today the first pressing of the band's third single for Elektra Records. This single was released in October of 1966 as Stephanie Knows Who with a Flip-Side of Orange Skies. Two weeks later the single was unceremoniously withdrawn and Stephanie Knows Who was replaced with the more radio friendly, She Comes In Colors. All three songs appeared on the band's wonderful second full length album, Da Capo.

Stephanie Knows Who was written by Arthur Lee and tells the tale of a girl with whom he was rather smitten. According to an interview with Johnny Echols in Ugly Things Magazine, Stephanie had a way about her that had many in the band fawning over her. She used to string along Arthur Lee pretty good and in turn she was his muse for both this song, and the replacement A-Side. The Flip-Side was written by rhythm guitarist, Bryan MacLean, the former roadie for The Byrds. Arthur sings over Bryan's usual saccharine lyrics and is able to pull them off with sincerity. Not easy to do when you have stanzas about cotton candy! Who knows, perhaps Stephanie may have been the muse here again.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

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