Peggy Lipton

The Complete Ode Recordings

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At the peak of Mod Squad mania in 1968, Peggy Lipton released a self-titled album on Ode Records, the label L.A. impresario Lou Adler launched in 1967. Adler produced Peggy Lipton and, sometime during the recording, the singer and producer became an item, a relationship that likely didn't affect the album much, nor did his support add up to much in the way of success: despite her status as an It Girl of 1968, the record didn't sell and neither did its singles ("Stoney End" got no further than 121 on Billboard's charts). The record then became lost to time, not so much buried as forgotten, which is why Real Gone's 2014 compilation, The Complete Ode Recordings, is a nice surprise. First, many fans of Lipton the actress might not be aware that this music even exists and, secondly, this disc -- which combines the 1968 LP with music from her three singles released between 1969 and 1970, plus four previously unreleased tracks -- is an exceptional artifact of the soft southern Californian pop of the late '60s. Lipton wasn't a striking singer -- in Joe Marchese's liner notes, she's her own harshest critic, claiming "I sang the entire album off-key and Lou couldn't fix it" -- but there's a gentleness to her delivery that's not only appealing but suits Adler's lush surroundings. Quite clearly, Carole King, and especially Laura Nyro, held sway over Lipton's songs and sensibilities in 1968. These two songwriters have seven of the 11 writing credits on Peggy Lipton, while the actress penned the rest, often sounding as if she was attempting to navigate an accord between her two idols. Lipton is a fairly lithe composer, specializing in a hazy sweetness that suggests a dewy dawn -- a signature Adler expertly accentuates with arrangements so lush it often seems half of Hollywood sat in on the sessions. While the Nyro and King songs are the most commanding, the originals are ingratiating, particularly the neo-anthem "Let Me Pass By" and the Baroque psychedelia of "San Francisco Glide." Lipton also does a nice Nyro knock-off on "I Know Where I'm Going," one of the eight bonus tracks on this collection. Here, there's still a lot of King and Nyro -- "Now That Everything's Been Said" and "Lu" are both quite fine -- but there's also an expert version of Jimmy Webb's "Red Clay County Line," a misty reading of Brian Wilson's "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times," a version of Bacharach/David's "Wanting Things" that feels like a refugee from the silver screen, and a clever cover of Donovan's "Wear Your Love Like Heaven," which Adler introduces with a quotation from "Sunshine Superman." Like the Peggy Lipton album itself, the appeal of the bonus tracks is how this gorgeous soft pop so thoroughly evokes its time: The Complete Ode Recordings suggests our collective fantasies of Southern California in the late '60s, just after the Summer of Love and somehow untainted by the turmoil of 1968, which makes it a pretty nifty pop time capsule.

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