The Peppermint Trolley Company are quintessentially '60s Southern Californian, capturing the soft fallout of folk-rock and psychedelia, all wrapped up in the studio gleam of Hollywood. Tinsel Town played a large role in the group's existence as they became best-known as the singers of the theme songs for the Brady Bunch and Love, American Style, gigs they received because they had a sweet commercial sound that should have hit the Top 40 even if it never did (the closest they came is with the minor hit "Baby You Come Rollin' 'Cross My Mind," a bubblegum spin on Glen Campbell). The Peppermint Trolley Company's problem wasn't a lack of good collaborators -- on their eponymous 1968 debut, Chad Stuart of Chad & Jeremy, provided arrangements, Roger Nichols appears on his song "Trust" -- or a dearth of material but that they lacked a strong identity, too easily moving from lite psychedelia to gently rolling folk-pop to slightly tougher rock, always falling back on splashy Hollywood pop whenever things threatened to get too loud. Their professional facility gave them a cheerful anonymity which may have hurt their career, but does make their recordings, collected here on a generous 27-track collection, a pleasing pop artifact of the late '60s, their anonymity letting the era shine through. This is even true of their earlier recordings dredged up by the compilers, who, including singles, the group recorded under the names the Mark Five, the C Minors, and the Intercoms, sides that find the group tackling all manners of mid-'60s pop/rock. These earlier singles are generally livelier, recalling the Beau Brummels, the Beatles, the Byrds and the Monkees, but that only bolsters the impression that no matter what name they chose, the Peppermint Trolley Company were L.A. soft pop pros easily adapting to the times. But that's the paradox of the studio pop of this era -- the names of the group don't matter, the sounds do, and the Peppermint Trolley Company produced enough breezy, easy sounds to make Beautiful Sun more than worthwhile for aficionados of this style and sound.
Beautiful Sun Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine