This recent Record Store Day we saw the release of some nifty gems from the 1960s which not only look groovy, and sound sparkly, but which also remind us of just how fertile a period it was for artistic creativity. Some remarkable music was being made by so many artists new and old. A reminder that "the 60s" weren't just about The Beatles, here are a couple choice gems we've checked out recently:
Procol Harum's Whiter Shade of Pale EP
This fine record is an extended play only in name, as with eight tracks on it, the record plays longer than some full length releases of recent vintage. Split into Mono and Stereo sides, the album revolves around Procol Harum's landmark instant classic from 1967, "A Whiter Shade of Pale." The Mono mix is what most of us heard on the radio, however it wasn't really on the first album initially in the UK; it was added in after the single became a hit and most US pressings of the album were reprocessed faux stereo remixes (Mono pressings in the US are pretty hard to find).
Curiously, this makes the Stereo side of this EP all the more significant as that features brand new true stereo mixes of that smash hit song mixed in 2017. Both sides also feature instrumental and session outtakes, some different than the other. and there appears to be an unlisted bonus track too on one side! Pressed on surprisingly quiet white-on-clear splatter vinyl, this is a fine listen for fans of the band. On Record Store Day I also picked up a 1972 UK pressing (on Cube Records, a two-fer with A Salty Dog) of the full original first Procol Harum album at Amoeba Music on RSD, which sounds pretty fabulous in Mono (this version includes "Whiter Shade of Pale" on it).
Nuggets' Come To The Sunshine
Slathered over two lovely orange vinyl swirl LPs featuring fine obscure slices of candy coated sunshine pop, this latest in the series from Rhino / Warner Brothers Records is essential for fans of all thing bubble-gummy and sweeter-than-sugar. That this collection only features tracks by many one-non-hit wonders should not sway you. In fact, that should entice you to hear gems like "Candy Apple, Cotton Candy" by Pat Shannon and "Trip to Loveland" by The Coronados. There are some real neat songs here and even this collector of obscure bubblegum only had a handful of these recordings previously. For example, I own the original single -- which I now know from the liner notes is their first and only single -- by Uncle Sound called "Beverly Hills," a group which featured two musicians from The Champs (ie. "Tequila") who within a few years would have hits like "Summer Breeze" and "Diamond Girl" dominating the AM pop radio airwaves : Seals & Crofts!
I really like the super obscurity "Wounded" by The Cookies, a 1967 one-off single by a reformed version of the group that had big hits in the early 60s such as "Chains" (later covered by The Beatles). "Summer Days, Summer Nights" is the lone single by The Street Corner Society, a song written by Brian Hyland which sounds like a cross between The Buckinghams and The Mamas & The Papas. And so goes this collection. It is great fun!
Featuring entirely Mono mixes, the album comes housed in fabulous custom die cut slip case sleeve which needs to be seen to be appreciated, this is an essential release for fans of the genre or simply if you want a remind of what feelin' groovy was all about... My only disappointment is that there is no download included as this would be a fun collection to take on the road. But there was the original Rhino Handmade limited edition CD on which this set is based, so keep an eye out for that nugget if you want a digital supplement. Come To The Sunshine was a limited edition for Record Store Day and it doesn't seem to be up on Amazon, but I suspect there are still some in your favorite stores so call around and try to find it. As a last resort you may still find it up on Discogs from a variety of sellers there (click here) so you should be able to track down a copy somehow without too much hassle. Well worth the efforts.
A sunshine daydream, indeed...