We Could All Use a Little Sunshine Pop These Days

4.7 Nuggets Sunshine

The times are pretty stressful lately. Then, throw into the mix a step-father whose own battle with dementia is beginning to take a darker turn, and, well, it has been a pretty eventful past week. Since I live the closest, I keep tabs on him, but what he’s been up to lately, well, that’s a whole new level. Needless to say, I called his family in to begin his transition to their care. This ought to be interesting since he and his family have been estranged for decades.

4.7 The Cowsills
The Cowsills

It goes without saying that is the reason I have been quiet for so long on the blog front. So, I have turned to music documentaries on Amazon Prime for a source of entertainment. And, I found one worth mentioning: Family Band: The Cowsills Story. Many of you are right now raising the question, “Who?!?!” And, rightfully so. Back in the late-Sixties, when I was a preschool child, this band of exceptionally talented family members had four sizable hit songs: “The Rain, The Park and Other Things,” “Come Fly Away,” “Indian Lake,” and a cover of the Broadway song “Hair.” Of course, I LOVED those songs, and I remember watching them on various variety shows on TV, in addition to their NBC TV special. Perhaps more significant, this band was the inspiration to a little landmark TV show for people of my age, The Partridge Family.

4.7 The Turtles
The Turtles

A I got older, I totally forgot all about the band until as an adult, a co-worker’s husband, who is a music fiend much like me, was singing the praises of this band. I remember at the time in the early-Nineties just kind of laughing him off. However, recently, I rediscovered this band’s brilliance all because of this aforementioned documentary. As I did a nominal research, I noticed a bunch of artists being listed alongside The Cowsills, such as The Association, Mamas and Papas and The Turtles. Naturally, I dug through my record collection and pulled out a Record Store Day compilation reissue from the terrific Nuggets series, entitled Nuggets – Come to the Sunshine: Soft Pop Nuggets from the WEA Vaults. All of this conspired to influence me to delve into a sub-genre of pop music known as Sunshine Pop, or by its former moniker Soft Pop.

4.7 Pet Sounds
The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds

Personally, I like to categorize music into two categories: good and bad. Sometimes, I think that some music is so damn bad that it ends up being good, while others is played so well that it sucks all the life out of the music making it bad. Or, maybe all those dancers on American Bandstand‘s “Rate A Record” were correct all along when they would say, “It’s got a good beat and it’s easy to dance to”? On the other hand, humans love to make categories in order to help explain various subjects, hence music having all kinds of genres and sub-genres. Even I get caught up in it, as I have expressed my love of punk, new wave, glam, hip hop, alternative, so on, forms of rock and pop music.

4.7 The 5th Dimension
The 5th Dimension

You see, back in 1966, the great American band The Beach Boys released a little album called Pet Sounds. Leader Brian Wilson was tired of all the surfing songs on which his band had forged their reputation. Instead, he was hearing highly complex and orchestrated music as a reaction to The Beatles’ Rubber Soul album. At the time of its release, Pet Sounds was met with trepidation by the record-buying public. Yet, after The Beatles heard the album, that pushed the Fab Four to create Sgt. Pepper in 1967. The repercussions of those two albums resulted in a quick shift from power poppish music to mainly highly orchestrated sounds with rich vocal harmonies by artists with non-threatening images. Suddenly, there was an abundance of music that appealed to the parents of the Sixties rock teens and to pre-teens. These artists wore well-scrubbed clothes of pastel colors, as if they were found in the casting lines of commercial casting calls. And the music was not only performed by studio musicians but it’s creation was influenced by the music being used in commercials and films of the day. Suddenly, unbeknownst to many at the time, music was taking on a Warholian touch to itself.

4.7 The Three OClock
’80s Sunshine Pop revivalists The Three O’Clock

Decades after the fact, you can go back to the mid-Eighties bands such as The Three O’Clock and The Game Theory to hear the influence of this music. Therefore, I felt this was the perfect time to take a little look back at the Sixties when rock music innocently felt anything was possible. And, this type of music HAD to happen, as it preempted the whole psychedelic rock thing that was just around the corner and before Sunshine Pop quickly morphed into both Bubblegum Pop, Easy Listening and AM Pop of the Seventies.

4.7 The Association
The Association

Personally, this sub-genre simply reminds me of the innocence of my youth. And, maybe, all music has that ability to do that depending upon your age. But, their is truly something about this music to evoke innocence in its non-ironic lyrics and the sure saccharine nature of the melodies of the music and those pitch-perfect four-, five- and six-part harmonies used to emphasize the lyrics. In retrospect, it’s no wonder why the music teachers of my grade school years would use this music for their choirs.

4.7 Harpers Bizarre
Harpers Bizarre

Thinking back to that time, my favorite songs of the day were not by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors or Jimi Hendrix. All of that came later. No, I was grooving to songs like “Windy” by The Association, “Up, Up and Away” by The 5th Dimension and “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” by Harpers Bizarre (and not the original version by Simon & Garfunkel!). And, just maybe, this should be the music of the days of the COVID-19 pandemic, sprinkled in with a little Burt Bacharach, Dusty Springfield, Motown, Tom Jones and Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. This stuff is light and relaxing and well-produced. Or, as a very brilliant former colleague of mine called it the other day, “Piano Prozac.”

4.7 The Wondermints
The Wondermints

Regardless, it’s time for these artists and their enduring songs to receive their due. Much like Power Pop and New Wave, it consists mainly of one- or two-hit wonders. But, Lord, this stuff is enduring. It’s like drinking a Coca-Cola in Mexico, as Coke has “real” cane sugar in it down there where we use fructose. When you drink a Coke with real sugar in it, that sugary concoction knocks you down for a moment until you realize the aftertaste is so much finer than the crap we drink here. Sunshine Pop will knock you for a loop when you initially listen to it today. You will ask, “God! How was this stuff EVER popular?” But, then, after a few more listens, you realize the aftertaste is not so bad and your body kind of digs it. Then, as it goes on, it will hit you that these people were WAY ahead of their time as far as songwriting and production work is concerned. Finally, you will gain new respect for newer artists you brushed off as fluff, such as The Wondermints, Splittsville and Parthenon Huxley.

Just then, you may even wonder why The Cowsills weren’t bigger than they were at the time? So, here is a list of my 100 favorite Sunshine Pop songs from the late-Sixties. Make a playlist of them and tell me I’m not correct. It’s the perfect antidote to this quarantine craziness we are in.

4.7 Dino Desi & Billy
Dino, Desi & Billy – Dino was the son of Dean Martin while Desi was the son of Desi Arnez & Lucille Ball. Billy was the other guy.
  1. Anita Kerr & the Anita Kerr Singers – “Happiness” (1968)
  2. Chad & Jeremy – “Before and After” (1965)
  3. Chad & Jeremy – “A Summer Song” (1964)
  4. Cher – “Our Day Will Come” (1966)
  5. Classics IV – “Spooky” (1967)
  6. Dino, Desi & Billy – “Tell Someone That You Love Them” (1968)
  7. Don & the Goodtimes – “I Could Be So Good to You” (1967)
  8. Gary Puckett & the Union Gap – “Over You” (1968)
  9. Harpers Bizarre – “Come to the Sunshine” (1967)
  10. Harpers Bizarre – “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” (1967)
  11. Keith – “98.6” (1967)
  12. Kenny O’Dell – “Beautiful People”
  13. Lee Mallory – “Take My Hand” (1967)
  14. Mama Cass – “Make Your Own Kind of Music”
  15. Mamas & Papas – “California Dreaming” (1965)
  16. Mamas & Papas – “Monday, Monday” (1967)
  17. Mercy – “Love (Can Make You Happy)
  18. Merilee Rush & the Turnabouts – “Angel in the Morning”
  19. Nancy Sinatra – “Sugar Town”
  20. Pat Shannon – “Candy Apple, Cotton Candy” (1968)
  21. Petula Clark – “Don’t Sleep in the Subway”
  22. Petula Clark – “I Couldn’t Live Without You”
  23. Ronny & the Daytonas – “Sandy”
  24. Sagittarius – “My World Fell Down” (1968)
  25. Spanky & Our Gang – “Lazy Day” (1967)
  26. Spanky & Our Gang – “Like to Get to Know You” (1968)
  27. Spanky & Our Gang – “Sunday Will Never Be the Same” (1967)
  28. Strawberry Alarm Clock – “Good Morning Starshine” (1969)
  29. Strawberry Alarm Clock – “Tomorrow”
  30. The 5th Dimension – “Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In” (1969)
  31. The 5th Dimension – “One Less Bell to Answer”
  32. The 5th Dimension – “Stoned Soul Picnic”
  33. The 5th Dimension – “Up, Up and Away”
  34. The 5th Dimension – “Wedding Day Blues”
  35. The Arbors – “A Symphony for Susan”
  36. The Association – “Along Comes Mary” (1966)
  37. The Association – “Cherish” (1966)
  38. The Association – “Everything That Touches You” (1968)
  39. The Association – “Never My Love” (1967)
  40. The Association – “Windy” (1967)
  41. The Beach Boys – “Darlin’”
  42. The Beach Boys – “Heroes and Villains” (1967)
  43. The Bonniwell Music Machine – “Discrepancy” (1968)
  44. The Brass Ring – “The Disadvantages of You”
  45. The Buckinghams – “Don’t You Care”
  46. The Buckinghams – “I’m a Loser”
  47. The Buckinghams – “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” (1967)
  48. The Buckinghams – “No Turning Back”
  49. The Cookies – “Wounded” (1967)
  50. The Coronados – “Trip to Loveland”
  51. The Cowsills – “Indian Lake” (1968)
  52. The Cowsills – “The Rain, the Park and Other Things” (1967)
  53. The Cowsills – “We Can Fly” (1968)
  54. The Critters – “Mr. Dieingly Sad”
  55. The Critters – “Younger Girl”
  56. The Cyrkle – “Red Rubber Ball”
  57. The Everly Brothers – “Talking to the Flowers” (1967)
  58. The Free Design – “Bubbles” (1970)
  59. The Free Design – “I Found Love” (1968)
  60. The Free Design – “Kites Are Fun” (1967)
  61. The Friends of Distinction – “Grazing in the Grass”
  62. The Gas Company – “If You Know What I Mean” (1967)
  63. The Gates of Eden – “No One Was There (Requiem)”
  64. The Grass Roots – “Let’s Live for Today” (1968)
  65. The Grass Roots – “Midnight Confessions” (1968)
  66. The Grass Roots – “Temptation Eyes” (1970)
  67. The Happenings – “I Got Rhythm”
  68. The Happenings – “See You in September”
  69. The Holy Mackerel – “Scorpio Red” (1968)
  70. The Hondells – “Kissin’ My Life Away”
  71. The Innocence – “There’s Got to Be a Word!”
  72. The Left Banke – “Pretty Ballerina”
  73. The Left Banke – “Walk Away Renee” (1967)
  74. The Lemon Pipers – “Green Tambourine”
  75. The Looking Glass – “Silver and Sunshine (How Wonderful Is Our Love)” (1966)
  76. The Lovin’ Spoonful – “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind”
  77. The Lovin’ Spoonful – “You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice”
  78. The Millennium – “I Just Want to Be Your Friend”
  79. The Millennium – “It Won’t Be the Same”
  80. The Monkees – “Daydream Believer”
  81. The Monkees – “Pleasant Valley Sunday”
  82. The Monkees – “Someday Man” (1969)
  83. The Morning Glories – “Love-In” (1967)
  84. The Munx – “Our Dream” (1968)
  85. The Neon Philharmonic – “Morning Girl”
  86. The Other Voices – “Hung Up on Love” (1968)
  87. The Peppermint Rainbow – “Don’t Wake Me Up in the Morning, Michael”
  88. The Salt – “A Whole Lot of Rainbows” (1968)
  89. The Street Corner Society – “Summer Days, Summer Nights” (1967)
  90. The Sunshine Company – “Back on the Street Again”
  91. The Tokens – “For All That I Am” (1967)
  92. The Trade Winds – “Mind Excursion”
  93. The Turtles – “Elenore” (1967)
  94. The Turtles – “Happy Together” (1967)
  95. The Turtles – “You Showed Me”
  96. The Vogues – “Just What I’ve Been Looking For” (1968)
  97. The Yellow Balloon – “Yellow Balloon”
  98. Tommy James & the Shondells – “Crystal Blue Persuasion”
  99. Tommy Roe – “It’s Now Winter Day”
  100. Uncle Sound – “Beverly Hills” (1968)
4.7 The Millennium
The Millennium

Author: ifmyalbumscouldtalk

I am just a long-time music fan who used to be a high school science teacher and a varsity coach of several high school athletic teams. Before that, I worked as a medical technologist at three hospitals in their labs, mainly as a microbiologist. I am retired/disabled (Failed Back Surgery Syndrome), and this is my attempt to remain a human. Additionally, I am a serious vinyl aficionado, with a CD addiction and a love of reading about rock history. Finally, I am a fan of Prince, Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, R.E.M., Hall & Oates, Springsteen, Paul Weller & his bands and Power Pop music.

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