An amazing set – all four of the legendary Warner Brothers albums by harmony giants Harpers Bizarre – plus bonus tracks too! First up is Feelin Groovy – the fab first LP by Harpers Bizarre! The group were one of the strangest pop ensembles operating in the seminal LA scene of the mid 60s – ostensibly a sweet harmony vocal group, but with a strangely childish approach that also had an ear open for the mind-blowing production styles of the Brian Wilson
era. Van Dyke Parks
was a big supporter of the group – and they perform a sublime version of his tune "Come To The Sunshine" as the leadoff track on the album – and even though Van Dyke
didn't handle the arrangements of the record, the style of the music is very similar to his own, with guitar, bass, and drums coming into play with strings, woodwinds, and baroque orchestral touches. The record is as dark as it is sublime – one of those pop gems that hit big, but which has a brooding depth bubbling underneath the sugary coating – ala Pet Sounds. Tracks include "Happy Talk", "The Debutantes Ball", "I Can Hear The Darkness", "Raspberry Rug", and their huge hit version of "59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin Groovy)". Next is Anything Goes – the group's second album – and while it has a lot of similarities with the first, it's also a lot deeper of an expression of their strange blend of harmony vocals, sweet 60s pop, and the nostalgia for the early 20th century that was running through the Burbank Warner scene that included a young Van Dyke Parks
, Randy Newman, Lenny Waronker, and other LA underground of the mid 60s. The whole record fits together beautifully – beginning with an old-timey radio kind of announcer, then sliding into sublimely crafted harmony tunes that include originals from the LA luminaries and the group, plus a few other surprising covers. Titles include the hit version of "Anything Goes", plus "The Biggest Night Of Her Life", "Milord", "Virginia City", "High Coin", "Jessie", "This Is Only The Beginning", and "You Need A Change". The Secret Life Of Harpers Bizarre is the third album by Harpers Bizarre – and one that shows them growing in leaps and bounds with each new release! The record is a sublime fusion of sweet pop California 60s harmonies (ala The Sandpipers or The Lettermen), baroque arrangements with a fake dreamy nostalgia (ala Van Dyke Parks
or Randy Newman), and drug-addled underground takes on the eazy sound of the generation (ala Brian Wilson
or Love). This album is one of their most perfectly-realized visions, and it features a great blend of older songs, all hipped-up to modern LA arrangements by the likes of Nick De Caro, Perry Botkin, and others. The record has an approach that's simply mindblowing when you consider the amount of funds and effort that must have been put into a record that would only be truly appreciated 40 years later – and it's filled with great titles that include "Me, Japanese Boy", "Look To The Rainbow", "Funny How Love Can Be", "Mad", "Green Apple Tree", and "Las Mananitas". Last up is the group's fourth album, unfortunately, the last Warner album by Harpers Bizarre – one of the few testaments of genius left to us by this incredible group! The record shows the group moving past the sweet pop and dreamy nostalgia of earlier albums – tentatively stepping into the haze of the late 60s LA scene with a blend of songs that share a lot musically with earlier work, but which also seem to have a more adult approach to some of their themes. Arrangements are by the group mostly – with help from pop geniuses like Jack Nitzsche, Nick De Caro, Lenny Waronker, Harry Nilsson, and Perry Botkin Jr. The harmonies are sublime – and the group effortlessly blends original tunes like "Soft Soundin Music", "All Through The Night", "When The Band Begins To Play", and "There's No Time Like Today, along with bizarre covers like "Hard To Handle", "Something Better", "I Love You Alice B Toklas", and Jim Pepper's "Witchi Tai To", which is worth the price of the record alone! Bonus tracks include "Both Sides Now", "Small Talk", "Poly High", "If We Ever Needed The Lord Before", "Malibu U", "Cotton Candy Sandman", "Lost My Love Today", and "Bye Bye Bye".