Various Artists

Night Time Music: The BT Puppy Story

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Formed by the Tokens, the BT Puppy label is most known for its 1966-1967 hit singles by the Happenings. This 20-track comp is largely devoted to other 1967-1969 releases on the label -- in fact, there's nothing by the Happenings at all, and only one song by the Tokens -- throwing in four tracks that appeared on other labels, but which were done by acts tied to the Tokens or BT Puppy in some way. It's not a huge surprise, then, that much of it sounds like the Happenings or the Tokens. But it's not as memorable as the hit singles by those two groups, much in the way many compilations of British Invasion rarities might have songs that owe a lot to the Beatles or Rolling Stones, but aren't nearly as good. In large part these are mainstream harmony pop/rock late-'60s vocal group recordings, influenced not just by the Happenings and Tokens, but perhaps by the Four Seasons and lingering raindrops from both the doo wop era and bloated pop-psychedelia. Lyrically it often verges on the ridiculously goody-goody -- "Tell the world what a happy girl you are," the Sundae Train instruct in "Sing Sweet Barbara," in a not untypical burst of optimism, adding, "You're a little girl on a giant hill, chasing butterflies with Jack and Jill" for good measure. Of course, Margo, Margo, Medress & Siegel's "Mister Snail," with its opening couplet "Say hello to Mr. Snail, he's a whale of a snail," is hardly any more likely to edify those in the mood for some sock-it-to-me realism. Occasionally the productions branch into different directions, with fuzzy guitars and echo-backwards effects acknowledging the psychedelic era like a far-off man viewing the scene with a telescope. There's also the soul-pop of Beverly Warren's "So Glad," an anomaly on a disc rooted in romantic vocal pop, with just enough late-'60s influences to avoid sounding archaic.

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