YORK record label Bad Paintings is bringing the Love band featuring original guitarist Johnny Echols to Britain for their farewell tour.

Arthur Lee’s longest-serving band line-up, Baby Lemonade, plus Echols, head across the Big Pond to perform classic songs from Love’s first three albums, Love, De Capo and Forever Changes, as well as some “special deep cuts”, for the last time.

Among the nine June and July dates will be Leeds Brudenell Social Club on Monday night.

Let Mike Harrison, of Bad Paintings, take up the story. “Me and my York record label have been involved for a number of years with the Sixties’ West Coast band Love,” he says.

“I put the band on at Fibbers in the early 2000s. Since Arthur Lee’s passing, I managed and organised a tour for his longest-serving band, Baby Lemonade, and original guitar player Johnny Echols in 2016.

“This summer we’re doing a farewell UK tour, including a Leeds show on Monday, with York’s Joe Coates, from Please Please You, promoting.”

In addition, this week Bad Paintings is releasing a seven-inch single by the Love band featuring Johnny Echols, limited to 500 numbered copies.

“It features Are We OK and Tinsel Tears, two songs from the aborted 2005 Love album,” says Harrison. “This release also marks Johnny Echols’ first recording since Love’s 1968 single, Your Mind & We Belong Together/Laughing Stock, which formed the last recordings by the classic Love line up that produced the landmark album Forever Changes.”

Guitarist Mike Randle takes up the story: “Back in 2004 Rusty [Squeezebox] and I started working with Arthur on about four of his song ideas. He had song fragments; a few things had melodies and words but no music and arrangements.

“Rusty and I also wrote four or five songs, just melodies and music on my eight-track, and sent them to Arthur. We didn’t hear anything for about a week but then the phone rang. It was Arthur: ‘Hey man, I heard ya stuff. Yeah man, it’s cool. I think we can get something going. The people want new tunes. They’re waitin’ for me, to lead them’. I took that as a thumbs-up.

“We did a fantastic US tour later that year with The Zombies; Arthur and Johnny were amazing. 2005 saw two LA shows that were the polar opposite. Arthur handed our demos over to a close friend as he wasn’t up for finishing the songs and didn’t want to contribute to them..”

Randle continues: “What we didn’t know was that he was sick. I don’t even think he knew. But it was getting harder for him to do stuff and no-one knew what to put it down to.

“Later, in 2005, we played a Love band show at the Zodiac in Oxford, the day before the London King’s Cross bombing. This was the tour that Arthur was too ill to make. I sat at the bar with Rusty and [legendary record producer] John Leckie as he ran down his ideas of what a great Arthur Lee record would sound like. But we lost Arthur in 2006 and the demos and song ideas were forgotten about.”

What happened next? “That was 14 years ago. After chatting with our manager and agent in the UK, we decided to pull two of the songs out and give them another look,” says Randle.

“After arrangement ideas and contributions from David Green, Dave Chapple and Johnny Echols, we had two finished songs. Johnny had me sing certain words a certain way: ‘This is how WE would sing THAT word’! Priceless times, folks!

“We also brought in Brian Wilson band member and multi-instrumentalist Probyn Gregory – who had served as an occasional touring member of Love since 1995 – to play some trumpet on the recordings that were captured by Dave Chapple in his garage studio in Los Angeles.

“So, in a way, these tunes are a tribute to all of the friends and fans who were involved in the Love 2002-2005 comeback story, but especially to Arthur Lee and Gene Kraut, who are no longer with us but are absolutely and forever interwoven into the melodious fabric of these songs. We hope you like them.”

Support act for the tour is Elk, alias York and Leeds musician Joey Donnelly, whose debut album, Beech, is out today on Bad Paintings.

Charles Hutchinson