Originally titled Will The Real Lee Hazlewood Please Stand Up?, Forty was a different kind of Hazlewood album, one in which Lee just focused on being a performer. In 1969 on the eve of his fortieth birthday, Lee flew to England and enlisted Shel Talmy (The Kinks, The Who, Chad & Jeremy, Bert Jansch) to produce an album and hand pick the songs. Shel picked some incredible songs for Lee to sing and even wrote him a song that should’ve been a hit, “Bye Babe.” Recorded at famed IBC recording studio with cream of the crop British session musicians and arrangers, no expense was spared.
Nicky Hopkins piano/organ work on “The Bed” and “The Night Before” evoke his then recent work with the Rolling Stones on Beggar’s Banquet and Let It Bleed. Arranger David Whitaker’s (Serge Gainsbourg, Vashti Bunyan, Air, “Bittersweet Symphony”) wizardry creates a lush, sophisticated orchestral sound.