Various Artists

Melodies for You: Universal Soft Rock Collection, Vol. 1

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The wonderful Melodies for You: Universal Soft Rock Collection, Vol. 1 scours the vaults of labels like Kapp, Dunhill, and ABC to document the softer, sweeter side of late-'60s pop. Inspired and arguably birthed by the Beach Boys, in particular their landmark Pet Sounds album, what is now called "sunshine pop" married rapturous vocal harmonies and lush arrangements that wonderfully evoked a beatitude and poignancy often forgotten amidst the political and cultural turbulence of its era. And while sunshine pop lacked the hallucinogenic headiness and musical adventurousness that typified the most revolutionary rock of the psychedelic era, these simple, effervescent songs have aged remarkably well -- indeed, minus an overtly countercultural context, there's a timelessness to this material that much of the era's music cannot claim. Few of the artists spotlighted on Melodies for You have been well served by CD-era reissue campaigns, making the rediscovery of their music cause for real celebration -- highlights include the Lamp of Childhood's "No More Running Around," the Critters' "Younger Girl," and Pebbles & Shells' "Let's Be More Than Friends Tonight."