The Love Generation
Listen -The Love Generation – Not Be Found – MP3
How’s by you?
The end of the week is nigh, and since it’s grey, gloomy, cold and windy outside, I figured I’d brighten things up a bit with a glittery little slice of sunshine pop.
It bears mentioning that had I been out digging in the field – sans portable – I would have been duty bound to pick up an album by a group calling themselves the Love Generation (assuming of course that some deluded flea marketeer wasn’t trying to get $25 bucks for it).
That said, when I finally did get the first album by said Love Generation, I was aware of them in name and reputation, and needed only to venture out into that great digital flea market known as the interwebs to secure my copy.
I hadn’t heard any of their music, and truth be told the group shot on the album cover screamed “corny”, but I had heard enough positive things about them that it wasn’t going to kill me to grab the record. Good thing too, since the album in question contained some excellent examples of the great, sunshiney harmony pop that I love so much.
When it comes to the subject of what the collector geeks of the world refer to as “sunshine pop” the range of quality is fairly wide, encompassing everything from visionary pop like the Millennium to one-off cartoon show soundtracks recorded by anonymous collections of studio professionals. How much an individual is willing to dig into the genre is guided both by a love for pure pop, and by a willingness to follow that love down all kinds of back alleys, some stranger than others.
Sometimes an obscure album yields nothing more than a bright cover and another worthless slab of vinyl to throw on the growing heap in your record room.
Other times – and I’m happy to report that this is one of them – you pick up a record, apply the needle to the wax and get a rush when what comes out of the speakers is in fact quite good.
The Love Generation were by and large the work of the brothers John and Tom Bahler. They, along with Mitch Gordon, Ann White, Marilyn Miller and Jim Wasson, took the sounds of groups like the Mamas and Papas, Spanky and Our Gang and the Association (among others) as a starting point and ran off into what can only be described as a groovy sunset wrapped around a licorice rainbow (sure, most people wouldn’t use those specific terms, but this is my blog…).
It’s important to give this music a serious listen, because a casual pass at a song like today’s selection ‘Not Be Found’ might impress the casual listener as light and disposable. The truth of the matter is, groups like the Love Generation, while wrapping themselves in the external trappings of the hip world, were in fact applying the pop vocabulary of the day to a much more conventional framework. They were using the same kinds of hooks as many more ‘serious’ rock bands, but delivered them in a decidedly non-rock fashion. This isn’t to say that they were square – because I can’t imagine anyone outside of the youth demographic enjoying this stuff – but rather that they were proudly un-hip. Where any number of rock bands that people might consider more ‘legitimate’ would have presented themselves with a rougher, cooler vibe (in both looks and sound), the Love Generation took some of the same energy and applied it to both songcraft and performance. Unfortunately for them – at least as history goes – is that their efforts landed them much closer to a commercial, even bubblegummy vibe that 40 years down the road endears them only to specialist collectors, rendering them disposable to pretty much everyone else. Had they come along a few years later they may very well cut a much wider commercial swath.
It should come as no surprise to you that I think this is unfair.
Say all you want about the ‘deeper’ bands of the day, but I’m here to remind you that even the brightest pop confections had their artistic moments.
The song I bring you today, ‘Not Be Found’ has a folk rock base, wrapped, again and again in layer upon layer of bright, lush harmonies. Like Curt Boettcher, the Bahler brothers knew the value and power in the human voice, making it the most prominent instrument on their records.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the Bahler brothers were involved in the early albums by the Partridge Family, as both writers and performers. Tom Bahler went on to write both ‘Julie Do Ya Love Me’ for Bobby Sherman, and ‘She’s Out Of My Life’ for Michael Jackson.
I hope you dig the tune and I’ll be back on Monday.