The Sugar Shoppe (Victor Garber 2nd from left)
Listen/Download – The Sugar Shoppe – The Attitude
Welcome to the new week.
The tune I bring you today is by a group that I was completely unaware of until last year, when I stumbled across their album in the midst of a bleary-eyes sunshine pop binge.
I saw the album cover, and one of the group members looked awfully familiar. It was a few seconds before the face registered and I realized that I was looking at actor Victor Garber, who I remembered from the movie of ‘Godspell’ (in which he portrayed Jeebus) and countless TV and movie appearances.
I hit the old Google-matic, and discovered some positive writing about the group, so I figured as soon as I found an affordable copy of the Sugar Shoppe album I grab one and give it a listen.
When I finally did, I liked it (to a point).
The Sunshine Pop oeuvre, while packed with underappreciated gems, is also jam packed with sugary junk, i.e. glassy-eyed, overly twee, insubstantial, stuff that only the most hard-core collector of the stuff would be able to tolerate.
Fortunately, 30+ years of listening to music has (if nothing else) provided me with a sense about these things, and a quick appraisal of an unheard record (i.e. material, producer, arranger etc) can give some idea of what you might be in for.
Since the album in question wasn’t very expensive, and since the group did covers of Donovan’s ‘Skip-a-long Sam’ (their version adding an unnecessary dollops of saccharine to the original) and the theme from the film ‘Privilege’ I figured I’d give it a go.
There were a couple of things that strayed a little too close to the universe of show-tunes, but there were also a couple of real gems, so on balance I’d say I like the record.
The Sugar Shoppe were a foursome, mixed between US and Canadian residents that released some 45s (for the Yorkville label) before recording the Capitol album that gave us today’s selection.
The tune I bring you today, ‘The Attitude’ starts with an Eastern touch, mixing sitar with what sounds like a call to prayer, before turning into a great pastiche of the Mamas and Papas Cali-folk rock sound. I’d go as far as to say that the female singers were doing their best to duplicate the harmonies of Cass Elliot and Michelle Phillips (wait for the phrase ‘beyond your years’ which sounds like it was spliced in from a Mamas and Papas album).
It’s sweet without being cloying and has enough kick to keep it interesting.
I hope you dig it, and I’ll be back later in the week.