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Exclusive Shindig! Qobuz playlist #12: Sunshine & Flowers– American Sunshine-Pop 1967-68

We’re very excited to be media partners with the truly unique online streaming platform and download store Qobuz. The 12th of our monthly bespoke playlists, which take in all manner of genres and sub-genres, scenes and beyond, then and now, somewhat follows on from last month’s US soft-psych one. Here comes the summer.

Play here or use the scrollable frame with tracklist the bottom of the page. You can sign up for a free trial today. Plans start from £10.83 per month. For more on Qobuz read our interview with MD Dan Mackta here


They may have called it “soft-pop” at the time, but for most of us it will forever be known as “sunshine-pop”: that bright, optimistic, radio-friendly cocktail of pop, easy-listening and flower-power motifs that lit up the airwaves for a couple of years, spawning #1 hits, coveted obscurities and all manner of delights in between. It continues to bring joy to connoisseurs of ’60s pop, 50-odd years later.

Blame The Beach Boys. Those patented vocal harmonies and meticulously crafted odes to the California sea, sun and sand were undeniable and far-reaching in 1965. Then came the laidback East Coast folk-rock of The Lovin’ Spoonful. ‘Daydream’ is another blueprint. The Mamas & The Papas blended folk-rock, slick studio professionalism and the commercially driven songwriting of John Phillips. Throw in a little Herb Alpert & His Tijuana Brass (Whipped Cream & Other Delights was the biggest-selling US album of ’66) and Sérgio Mendes & Brasil ’66’s bossa nova and you have the perfect storm; and the perfect mainstream alternative to the burgeoning underground psychedelic culture that–let’s face
it–wasn’t for everyone.

‘Up, Up And Away’–written by Jimmy Webb and recorded by The 5th Dimension, a gifted vocal group who assimilated soul, jazz, pop and psychedelia like no other–floated into Top 10s around the world in mid-67, earning itself six Grammys and becoming the archetypal sunshine-pop anthem. The doors were flung wide open, and everyone from exploitative major record labels to provincial garage bands jumped aboard the balloon. This playlist offers entries from the biggest US acts of the era–The Monkees, The Association, The Turtles, The Tokens, the aforementioned The Mamas & The Papas, The Lovin’ Spoonful, The 5th Dimension and Brasil ’66 – alongside zeitgeist hits by Spanky and Our Gang, Harpers Bizarre, Keith, The Cherry People, The Yellow Balloon, The Brass Ring, The Parade, The Cowsills, The Tradewinds and The Cyrkle.

We’ve dug into less-heralded album tracks by The Critters, The Lemon Pipers, Eternity’s Children (for our title track), Roger Nichols & The Small Circle Of Friends, Millennium, Gordian Knot and The Sandpipers, and superb non-charting singles by The Left Banke, The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, The Sundowners, Peppermint Trolley Company and The Free Design (who, despite only achieving one “bubbling under” hit with the genre-defining ‘Kites Are Fun’, are now considered not only sunshine-pop godheads but one of the most sophisticated and unsung acts of the era).

The sonics, motives and provenance of these disparate artists may change radically from tune to tune, but they all form part of a joyful soundtrack to a unique period in pop history. Who knows? Maybe if we all listen to this selection at the same time, the sun will come out.


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