Though Berry Gordy famously said that there are only two types of music – good and bad, the music biz loves its classifications, categories, pigeon-holes, genres and sub genres and one such sub-genre which has gained traction with collectors over the last decade or so is “Sunshine Pop”. We believe that the phrase was coined by Record Collector editor Pete Doggett to describe the sound of 60s US harmony pop proffered by bands like the Beach Boys, the Association and , with a little added soul, the Fifth Dimension and the Friends of Distinction. The inference being that their music conjured up images of sun kissed beaches, good times, country walks, sea, surf and , yes, sunshine!
Collectors of the genre have been well served by the archive labels who’ve issued numerous compilations anthologising the sound. Ace Records have released several collections while last year Cherry Red imprint. Grapefruit released ‘Heroes and Villains’, The Sound Of Los Angeles’. Now that same label delivers an interesting take on “Sunshine Pop” with, ‘What A Groovy Day’ – a 3 CD, 87 track box set that looks at “Sunshine Pop” through British sunglasses! Might sound odd that here in often rain-lashed, usually drab and dull Britain we could create summery sounds – but we did, well, certainly between the period this album covers, 1967-1972, the period when the Beat Boom had faded, when the Beatles were at their creative peak, when whimsy was creeping into music and when the influence of US bands like the Beach Boys was hitting home.
This new collection is named for the box’s opening track, ‘What A Groovy Day’ from Harmony Grass which is as near a perfect aural definition of “Sunshine Pop” as you could have. The band were a vehicle for top sessioneer/harmony guru, Tony Rivers and he’s represented by two more inclusions, Harmony Grass’s ‘ ‘Move In A Little Closer Baby’ and his own ‘Summer Dreaming’- a lovely Beach Boys pastiche!
Amongst the 87 tracks you’ll come across some famous names – the Hollies, Petula Clarke, the Zombies, Marty Wilde, Hermans Hermits and someone called Cliff Richard! But as with all albums like this it’s the lesser known artists that provide the real interest and intrigue. So enjoy gems like Infinity’s cover of the Four Seasons’ harmonic cover of Cole Porter’s ‘I’ve Got You Under My, Skin’, Barbara Moore’s ‘Fly Paradise’ (which owes quite a lot to the Fifth Dimension’s ‘Up, Up And Away’), the Symbols’ ‘Bye, Bye Baby’ (another Four Seasons cover and later a Bay City Rollers hit), Jefferson’s ‘Montage’ (a little know Jim Webb song) and a lot more.
No soul here, of course, but for lovers of sweet harmony, for music collectors and archivists and indeed anyone seeking summer sounds to shake away the winter blues, ‘What A Groovy Day’ comes recommended!