Harpers Bizarre

The Complete Singles Collection 1965-1970

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Few bands of the '60s managed to be as cool and as corny as Harpers Bizarre. The clumsy pun of their name and their habit of covering campy material in a florid style robbed them of any sort of hip cachet. At the same time, the group's vocal harmonies, anchored by leaders Ted Templeman and Dick Scoppettone, were superb, as smooth as whipped cream and just as tasty. And the group worked with some of the best producers, arrangers, and songwriters of the day, with a handful of sunshine pop classics scattered through their catalog. The grand duality of Harpers Bizarre is summed up well on The Complete Singles Collection 1965-1970, which brings together the A- and B-sides of the 13 singles they released during their original run. The disc opens with five tracks they cut in their original incarnation as the Tikis, a straightforward guitar band not unlike their Autumn Records labelmates the Beau Brummels. While 1966's "Bye, Bye, Bye" demonstrated the group's talent and creative ambition, a year later Warner Bros. (who'd bought Autumn) stepped in and gave the band a makeover. As Harpers Bizarre, the group quickly scored a hit with "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)," and Templeman and Scoppettone's vocal arrangements were the cornerstone of the group. However, the group was also often at the mercy of its producers (usually Lenny Waronker) and arrangers (usually Perry Botkin, Jr.), and as good as they were, Harpers Bizarre often seemed to be drowned out on their own records. Curiously, while the group's biggest hits haven't aged well, this collection features a number of B-sides and non-hits that are first-rate baroque pop. Their versions of "Witchi Tai To," "Cotton Candy Sandman (Sandman's Coming)," and "Poly High" (the latter written and co-produced by Harry Nilsson) are excellent. And Van Dyke Parks' "Come to the Sunshine" and Randy Newman's "The Debutante's Ball" are tracks where the epic-scale production works in favor of the songs. After Harpers Bizarre broke up, Ted Templeman took the lessons he learned about production and spun them into a successful career running sessions for Van Morrison, the Doobie Brothers, Van Halen, and dozens more. But if it's not the ideal Harpers Bizarre collection, The Complete Singles Collection 1965-1970 includes their biggest hits while summing up what they did best, as well as offering an honest assessment of their flaws.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
feat: The Tikis
feat: The Tikis
3 02:33
4 02:26
feat: The Tikis
6 02:33
7 02:34
8 03:07
9 02:01
10 02:17
11 02:35
12 02:15
13 02:52
14 02:14
15 02:42
16 02:24
17 02:38
18 02:25
19 02:25
20 01:28
21 03:09
22 02:44
23 02:41
24 04:12
25 02:58
26 02:41
blue highlight denotes track pick