Music News

Flower Power Blooms Eternal

One or two of the acts on the "Hippiefest" tour would've spiced up the typical take-the-money-and-run oldies packages that plow through town every summer. But together, this package of '60s acts truly shows remarkable breadth. The acts have retained their critical cachet and haven't worn out their names with nostalgia concertgoers — no Gary Puckett singing his hits three keys lower here.

The impetus for this package tour is the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love, which found most of these bands at the peak of their powers. The Young Rascals and The Turtles were both performing like American Beatles, each scoring three Top 10 hits in a five-month period, including a Number One hit each ("Groovin'" and "Happy Together," respectively). Leslie West was still in The Vagrants and had yet to form Mountain. Country Joe McDonald was about to release his anti-Vietnam war anthem "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag," while the Zombies were recording their masterpiece album, Oddessey and Oracle.

Musicians in an uneasy transitional period that summer included Mitch Ryder, whose hits would peter out after an ill-advised split from the Detroit Wheels, and former Moody Blues leader Denny Laine, who was about to see the band reinvent itself with orchestral passages and long-winded poems. The odd men out on this bill would seem to be Badfinger, whose Beatles-esque sound was more a precursor of the early '70s power-pop movement, even though they were contemporaries of the Fabs and signed to their Apple label in 1969.

You probably already know which of your oldies favorites are just coasting on people's good graces, but anyone who's heard Felix Cavaliere, Colin Blunstone, or Mitch Ryder sing recently knows that they've still got what made you love them in the first place. And last time I checked, love is still all you need.

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Serene Dominic
Contact: Serene Dominic