Going Solo, All in the Family and a little CanCon…
In this edition I’m looking at examples of Sunshine Pop which are exceptions to the usually understood notions of the genre (a genre governed by exceptions, n’est-ce pas?) First, none is Californian. One example is a solo performer in this world of “group vocal harmony”. One example really was a family band… not the norm in rock groups of the period. And, as a bonus, I’ll mention a Canadian band which, though not usually thought of as “sunshiney”, did briefly embrace the genre on the way to finding its own niche in pop music.
I should note that all of these examples have been cited (by semi-reputable sources) as purveyors of Sunshine Pop prior to my inclusion of them in this compilation.
Petulia Clark has enjoyed a remarkably long career in popular music. She first gained fame as a performer during the dark years of the Second World War where she become known as “Britain’s Shirley Temple”. While her career expanded over the following decade (performing in English and French) to achieve success throughout Europe, it was the Sixties which signalled her arrival on the International stage. Downtown (her #1 song from 1964) was the first of fifteen consecutive Top 40 hits (in the U.S. market). While Who Am I was not among her most successful singles (#21 in the U.S. and #52 in the U.K. in 1966) it represents well many of the elements which are associated with Sunshine Pop.
Think of a rock group comprised of a mother and her six offspring with a seventh acting as road manager. All in the family indeed! And that was the composition of The Cowsills of Rhode Island. Formed in 1965 by brothers Bob, Billy and Barry, the group expanded so that, by 1967, it encompassed the entire family. If this all sounds oddly familiar, it may be because the group inspired the 1970’s television series, The Partridge Family. Their first major hit (but not their last) The Rain, The Park and Other Things reached #2 on the Billboard charts during the “Summer of Love”.
And, if you want to see what they looked like “live”, here’s a performance from the time…
… and now for the CanCon (Canadian content)… a bonus!
In checking out some of the “Sunshine Pop” search results on YouTube, I came across this little 1968 goodie from “Show of the Week“, hosted by Juliette. Yep, that’s Burton Cummings, Randy Bachman and the boys of The Guess Who. Evidence, if more is needed, that this genre had crossed borders and infected bands on an international scale!