Part of my ongoing passion for collecting records is driven by the joy of discovering (surprise! shock! awe!) groups and albums you’ve never even remotely heard of before. Some get released at a particular point in time to capitalize on a movement or perhaps as a spin-off from another band. Some may have been pure vanity projects. Many never achieved grand success and after an album or three, the groups disappeared without a trace into the pop sunset.
Here are some deliciously collectible releases you may have never have heard — or even heard of — starting with one I just discovered this year…
The Sugar Shoppe — Canada’s Mama’s and Papas? Perhaps. They had some hits and appeared on Ed Sullivan and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson before splitting up.
According to The Canadian Pop Encyclopedia, Laurie Hood became a session singer for the likes of Klaatu and Anne Murray. Victor Garber became a famed stage/screen actor, including a role in James Cameron’s Titanic and the recent hit, Argo. He also was in the film Godspell (as Jesus Christ!) along with (note: personal conceptual continuity moment) the late brother of the singer from my old band “ing,” Jeffrey Mylett (who still has many many fans).
The Womenfolk — According to the wiki, they were signed in 1962 during the Folk music movement, but clearly by the time 1966 rolled along they were being produced to sound a bit like The Mamas and Papas, who were having massive hits at that stage.
The album titled Man Oh Man! (I don’t make this stuff up folks!) features pleasant-enough cover tunes of period hits (“Yesterday,” “The Times They Are A Changing,” and ”Sunrise, Sunset”… really). Proto-Summer of Love flora abounds.
One song in particular, however, stands out as extra… um… well… listen to “The Maybe Song” and decide for yourself (an actual live TV broadcast of them singing the tune as a trio).
American Spring — aka Spring — was actually a really nice release from the former Mrs. Brian Wilson and her sister, Marilyn and Diane Rovell.
They were originally part of The Honeys, a great “girl group” (also produced by Brian Wilson). By the time of the early ’70s singer-songwriter movement, the group put out this one lost gem.
Here is their cover of a Beach Boys tune (which originally was on the underrated Sunflower album).
The Wind in the Willows — This semi faceless Summer of Love-era signing group included a future superstar, a young pre-peroxide Deborah Harry. It was not a commercial success (it made #195 on the charts). Here is one of the songs on which she sang lead. You be the judge.