Various Artists

Spirit of the 60's [Universal 1999]

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If pop music reflects the spirit of its times, and if the TV and mail-order collection Spirit of the 60's is an accurate representation of the period in pop music it covers, 1965-71 (that's right, there are seven tracks here that weren't released until the early '70s), then that was an era in which people grew their hair long, took psychedelic drugs, opposed war, and tried to "get it together." The 34 selections were all Top 40 hits, with records like the Byrds' "Turn, Turn, Turn," the Rascals' "People Got to Be Free," the Fifth Dimension's "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)," and Edwin Starr's "War" ranking among the most popular of the era. For the most part, however, these are not the most popular performers of the day -- only the Mamas & the Papas, the Rascals, and the Fifth Dimension, of the artists featured, ever ranked among the Top Ten pop singles artists in the period covered. Rather, most are one-hit wonders who struck the zeitgeist of the times, often by hooking into current slang. The Chambers Brothers declare, "My soul has been psychedelicized" in "Time Has Come Today," while Friend and Lover "think it's so groovy now that people are finally getting together." The Cowsills and the Fifth Dimension borrow songs from "the tribal love rock musical" Hair. Melanie recalls Woodstock in "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)." Barry McGuire ("Eve of Destruction") and Edwin Starr comment on politics. The Amboy Dukes ("Journey to the Center of the Mind") and Strawberry Alarm Clock ("Incense and Peppermints") reflect a drugged perspective. And there is a surprising undercurrent of religion, not only in the gospel elements in "Lay Down," "Aquarius," and "United We Stand," but also specifically in "Spirit in the Sky" and "Get Together." "Spirit" has many meanings.

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