Various Artists

Soft Sounds For Gentle People, Vol. 1

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Subtitled "Far-out and beautiful tracks from California and beyond 1966-1971," Soft Sounds for Gentle People scours the nooks and crannies of the sunshine pop archives to unearth nearly two dozen singles and album cuts long forgotten by all but the most rabid collectors. Although there's a strong psychedelic dimension to the material -- nothing here would seem out of place in the Nuggets series -- the radiant harmonies and lush orchestral arrangements wonderfully capture the more tranquil side of late-'60s pop; sweet but never syrupy, should-have-been hits like the Pleasure Fair's "Today," the Lewis and Clarke Expedition's "Blue Revelations," and the Moorpark Intersection's David Axelrod-produced "I Think I'll Just Go and Find Me a Flower" sound far fresher and even more contemporary than the overplayed chart hits that dominate oldies radio. Most of the tracks are mastered directly from the original vinyl, and while there are some cracks and pops present in the mix, the overall fidelity is excellent and the liner notes are witty and informative -- all told, a fantastic package, although its legitimacy is questionable.

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