LATE 60s POP OBSCURITIES.

 

What could be filed under "obscure pop" are songs that didn't get much (or any) airplay, despite their commercial potential. Fact is that there was such a creative musical boom in the sixties that it was impossible to plug them all. Certain artists got a chance to have their songs played during local gigs and that was about it.

In the eighties some CD-companies started to release 60s compilations, however most of them focussed on garage, fuzzy guitar stuff (Pebbles, Acid Dreams, Teenage Rebellion, Turds on a Bum Ride, Las Vegas Grind, A Journey To Tyme, Back From The Grave, Boulders, The Cicadelic 60's, The Flashback,....). ALL of those compilation were indeed based on a "heavy sound" and there's nothing wrong with that.

However, there were lots of pop tunes waiting to be dug up as well... Why were hundreds of heavy compilations released and very few pop ones??? I've been digging in sixties music for over two decades and there is indeed a huge demand for rare pop as well !

Fact is that some obscure American late 60s music was released in Japan ! Yes... in Japan. Few people know there's actually a revival going on for more than ten years. In fact there's a whole culture surrounding 1967-1970 popmusic. And to top it... there's even a youth magazine who exclusively deals with this kind of music ! As to be expected, the Japanese put some real effort in it and a couple of years ago a book was released which deals with the genre. The"sound" is called "Soft Rock" in Asia, although it has little to do with rockmusic as such. It's breezy, orchestrated pop... "Sunshine Pop". (Click here to see the cover of the book, which went "out-of-print" some time ago).


About the "sound".

 

"Sunshine Pop"... the name says it all. Lightweight feel-good music, backed by an orchestra. Let's set the date in history to 1967... The Vietnam war was climaxing. Thousands of young people were drafted for army duty and many got killed. As an anti-war act young people gathered together and the general idea was to see the sunny side of life. Instead of all doom and death people should learn to "make love, not war". It became the slogan of 1967. The movement was growing strong and gained followers all over the world. The hippie movement was starting to emerge.

Love-Ins were created in which people could express themselves freely. The symbol of the movement was the flower. The silent power of a flower. From then on the Flower Children or Flower Generation was born. People wore colorful outfits, love-beads, put flowers in their hair, had their faces/body painted with symbols of peace and... the attitude was optimism..

All of this reflected in the music. As a reaction to the war they sang optimistic songs about happiness, flowers, colors, cotton candy, rainbows, etc. And it's exactly that kind of music that was the zenith of "Sunshine Pop".
Psychedelic music was already a reality, but some groups chose for the best of both worlds and created a sound between pop and psychedelia (pop/pysche or "popsike"). It was pleasent commercially music with a slight psyche twist. Already famous artists started to adjust their "sound" to go with the flow (The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Association, Manfred Mann, The Buckinghams...), while other groups were created. Some fine examples of the genre were The Orange Colored Sky, The Love Generation, Orpheus, The Astral Scene, The Lemon Pipers, The Cherry People,...
Each country had their own local groups and in my country it was Wallace Collection who had a huge hit all over Europe with "Daydream" (I fell asleep beneath the flowers). It became the European Summer of Love anthem.

While army planes were flying bodybags home, the Flower Children tried to convince the world that a non-violent society was possible. It was a peaceful protest which started in 1967, went on in 1968, but died a slow death in 1969.
BUT... from those years a musical treasure was developed of which only a handful made it onto the charts...
The ones that didn't made it... those are the ones I'm after...


Audio clips.

Here are a couple of tunes which qualify as being "obscure". They represent several styles, pure pop, northern soul, popsike and even a "beat-stomper". Double-click and your music software should be able to play them.

A word of warning... those with a taste for the above mentioned heavy compilations will probably hate the featured songs, because they sound so commercial it will make you teeth ache ;)

 

-Derrick & The Sounds: "Morning papers and margarine" (a great slice of cheerful popsike)

- Dusk: "The point of no return" (a Northern Soul killer)

- Joel Christie: "Since I found you" (catchy from beginning to end)

- John Walker: "Everything under the sun" (excellent sunshine pop)

- Montanas: "Heaven help me" (a track that was not on their cd)

- The Nerve: "Piece by piece" (a real beat-stomper)

- Noeleen Batley: "2-4-6-8" (Australian anti-depressive song)

- Rainbow People: "Living in a dreamworld" (grrrrrrrrrrrreat sound indeed)

- Tim Andrews: "Smile if you want to" (a bombastically orchestrated UK melodrama)

- Tina Charles: "Boulevard of souvenirs" (oh yes, she was alive before disco !)


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