The Lemon Pipers – Green Tambourine

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Unfortunately, the story of the Lemon Pipers and their battle for control with their record company was all too common in the 60s. Soon after being signed to Buddah Records, the band was pushed into the bubblegum pop genre by their label despite their objections. The label hired Paul Leka and Shelley Pinz to write some songs for the band, one of which would go on to be the Lemon Piper’s most popular tune, “Green Tambourine.” After “Green Tambourine” was successfully released as a pre-album single, the label further pushed the band to record bubblegum/psychedelic pop material. The band however, was much more interested in rock ‘n’ roll. Thus, Green Tambourine the band’s debut album, released in 1968, was a compromise––half of the songs are pop-oriented, label pleasers, whereas the other half are rock-based songs written by the band members themselves. The resulting album is an eclectic mix of genres and subgenres that actually works surprisingly well together. Although the band was quite reluctant to record the songs the label had written for them, these songs are surprisingly good. “Green Tambourine” was obviously the most successful song on the album, but just because it did well on the charts, does not mean that it is overly poppy or simplistic. It has a strong melody with just enough psychedelic rock influence to keep it from being a cookie cutter bubblegum song. “Shoeshine Boy” and “The Shoemaker of Leatherwear Square” are also surprisingly good songs written by Leka and Pinz. Both songs are concept songs that edge more towards psychedelic rock than pop, but contain elements of both. The only two songs that are really pop-heavy are “Rice is Nice” and “Blueberry Blue,” but even these two songs have enough interesting arrangements and psychedelic sounds to maintain the band’s credibility. When the Lemon Pipers were allowed to write their own material, they really showed their wide range and eclectic tastes. For example, “Ask Me If I Care” has strong folk-rock influences, sounding like something The Hollies may have produced. On the other hand, “Straglin’ Behind” and “Fifty Year Void” are blues-rock numbers with psychedelic influences. “Fifty Year Void” especially has that hard driving rhythm common in blues songs. The song that really tops the album is the nine-minute psychedelic trip, “Through With You.” This song is adventurous and bold, experimenting with unusual arrangements and different psychedelic sound effects. This song alone is reason enough to buy the album. Despite their reluctance to record material that was essentially forced upon them, The Lemon Pipers were able to produce an exciting and diverse album, which remains an essential album for all enthusiasts of 60s psychedelic music. Unfortunately the Lemon Pipers would get so fed up with their label telling them what to record that they would leave the music industry entirely. They broke up after just one more record (Jungle Marmalade), and several of them would never be involved in the music industry on a professional level again.  A

The Peppermint Rainbow – Will You Be Staying After Sunday

ImageThe Peppermint Rainbow first came to notoriety after Mama Cass Elliot from The Mamas and the Papas recommended them to Decca Records after attending one of their shows. The band was soon signed, and in 1969 they released Will You Be Staying After Sunday. Although this would be there one and only record, they seemed to have left their mark on the sunshine pop genre. Several of the album’s songs, most notably the title track “Will You Be Staying After Sunday” and “Walking in Different Circles,” feature prominent upbeat vocal harmonies and simplistic yet catchy rhythms. With a good combination of both male and female vocalists, The Peppermint Rainbow thrive in vocal heavy tracks. Interestingly enough, the band also flirts with psychedelic pop on tracks such as “Pink Lemonade” and “Green Tambourine.” These songs (my personal favorites) incorporate traditional psychedelic pop features like distortion and surrealistic lyrics in order break the monotony of incredibly cheerful sunshine pop songs. These two songs do a lot to bring the album familiarity and quality. For all of the positive aspects of the album, Will You Be Staying After Sunday lacks several key things to truly set this album apart. Although The Peppermint Rainbow often sound fresh, they struggle to find their own identity through a myriad of covers and sound-alikes. The album also fails to be consistent. When the tracks aren’t enjoyable, they can be dreadful––songs like “Jamais” and “Sierra (Chasin’ My Dream)” come to mind. This lack of consistency is perhaps why the band’s post-album recordings failed to materialize into a second album despite a mildly popular debut. Overall, this album is a fairly decent 60s sunshine pop album with some very solid tunes. If you enjoy sunshine pop or are willing to dabble outside of your comfort zone, then you should pick up this album. If you are into harder rock ‘n’ roll bands, there’s plenty of other talented bands reviewed below.  B-