wed 07/12/2022

Music Reissues Weekly: Trip On Me - Soft Psych & Sunshine | reviews, news & interviews

Music Reissues Weekly: Trip On Me - Soft Psych & Sunshine

Music Reissues Weekly: Trip On Me - Soft Psych & Sunshine

A window into groovy world where harmonies and good vibes ruled

The ill-fated A Small World: amongst the stars on 'Trip On Me - Soft Psych & Sunshine'

The Candy Company. Evergreen Tangerine. The Lollipop Fantasy. The Pretty People. The Primrose Circus. “It's a Groovy World.” “Meadows and Flowers.” “Summer Flower (She's on my Mind).”

The band names and song titles don’t telegraph heaviness. The 24-track comp Trip On Me - Soft Psych & Sunshine digs into strata of late Sixties American pop which lay beneath similarly minded hit-makers like The Association, The Brooklyn Bridge, Harper’s Bizarre and Spanky And Our Gang. Soft rock – not in the Seventies way of Bread – and sunshine pop are labels capturing it. As did harmony pop before those two terms became voguish.

Trip On Me - Soft Psych & SunshineTrip On Me’s recognisable names are Curt Boettcher, The Forum and The Third Wave. The Crystal Set (not the Eighties Australian band), The Gettysbyrg Address and The High (not the Nineties Manchester band) are less eminent. The digging is deep: Boettcher’s “Meadows and Flowers” is a previously unissued demo; tracks by The Crystal Set, Evergreen Tangerine, The Gettysbyrg Address, The High, The Justice League and The Tricycle have also never been issued before. Two contributions from The Third Wave are hitherto unheard recordings made in US before their discoverer George Duke took them to Germany to record for jazz imprint MPS.

While this is stuffed with A-Grade California-style treats, some cuts leap out. The in-depth liner notes suggest The Thousand Faces might be the same band as The Lollipop Fantasy – whatever the handle “A Thousand Faces,” a 1968 single credited to the former, is a sophisticated expression of the protagonist’s frustration with his day-to-day lot. He’s never up, he’s never down, there’s a thousand places he wants to see. When The Lollipop Fantasy emerged in Los Angeles, the LA Times asked “The Jefferson Airplane, The Beatles, The Doors – why not The Lollipop Fantasy?” A moot question, and it must have been thus in 1967.

Trip On Me - Soft Psych & Sunshine_The TricycleThe Third Wave are caught recording at San Francisco’s Columbus Recordings studio in February 1969. Although the tracks are demos, the sound is fully realised. “Niki” and a medley of Donovan’s “Three Kingfishers-Ferris Wheel” could have been released. Elsewhere, A Small World’s “The Life You Lead” is an Association-ish winner. “Lazy Bones”, one of two tracks by The Tricycle (pictured left), is complex and nods towards The Free Design. The Tricycle were a trio with two former members of San Francisco folk-rock pioneers We Five and, on this evidence, they were a great lost band.

“Someday Sunday” by The Gettysbyrg Address was recorded in March 1968 by California producer Gary Paxton and never issued. The band were from Winnipeg and “Someday Sunday” has a strong “White Shade of Pale" undertone or, putting it another way as per the booklet's essay, it has “a chorus strongly reminiscent of [the 'Whiter Shade'-influenced] ‘Reflections of Charlie Brown'.” Overall there is little British influence but, for example, California’s Turtles are not far away: check The Forum’s “Happy Together”-esque “Go To Try and Put Out the Sun.”

Although ten of Trip On Me’s cuts lay in tape vaults for between 53 to 55 years, everything collected sounds like a potential hit. But promotion can be an issue, and singles on independent labels like Era and Mira (whose tape archives have been scoured) lacked the marketing muscle to get what they issued onto the radio as easily as the majors. Then, there’s high-school band A Small World whose Mira single got a few radio plays. They visited their label’s offices – which were empty, cleared out. That was the end of A Small World. Also, some of these outfits were studio concoctions, so waves could not be created by playing live. Others had limited audiences: The Lollipop Fantasy played, says the text, “the well-heeled Los Angeles debutante circuit.” Probably not a trend-setting clique. The circumstances of why a record didn’t commercially click vary.

Over five decades on, this doesn’t matter. What’s heard matters. To borrow from the title of The Lollipop Fantasy’s contribution, Trip On Me - Soft Psych & Sunshine paints a picture of a groovy world.

@MrKieronTyler

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