Various Artists

Soft Sounds for Gentle People, Vol. 2

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The second volume of the Soft Sounds for Gentle People series digs up another fantastic batch of groovy sunshine pop obscurities from the heyday of the West Coast scene, possibly even surpassing its predecessor for sheer quality and consistency -- it's amazing how much of this stuff the major labels were putting out, how much of it is truly great, and how much of it has for so long remained relegated to the dustbin of history. Like last time, there's a strong psychedelic dimension to these songs, and nothing would seem glaringly out of place on a Nuggets compilation, but the radiant harmonies and lush orchestral arrangements wonderfully capture a more peaceful, even earnest side of late-'60s flower-power pop -- nothing here sounds horribly dated, either, especially standouts like the Collage's "My Mind's at Ease," the Pleasure Fair's "Nursery Rhyme," the Garden Club's "Little Girl Lost and Found," and the Family's "San Francisco Waits." The legitimacy of this disc is a question and some of the material sounds mastered directly from the original vinyl, but the sequencing and liner notes are excellent and it's hard not to wish official releases were handled with so much obvious care and affection.

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