The Peanut Butter Conspiracy

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by Richie Unterberger

This 16-track compilation includes much but not all of the material from the band's first two albums, The Peanut Butter Conspiracy Is Spreading and The Great Conspiracy. Sometimes scoffed at as gimmicky psychedelic bandwagon riders (due in large part to the group's outrageous name), the Peanut Butter Conspiracy was indeed a real band that wrote its own material. The group was derivative, though, with harmonies that often sounded like a cross between the Mamas & the Papas and the Jefferson Airplane (helped by the presence of female singer Sandi Robison). The group's melodies had the sweet-sour blend typical of San Francisco hippie bands, yet the production had a smoothness more typical of Los Angeles artists (of which the Peanut Butter Conspiracy was one). And the guitars had a ring not unlike the Byrds, perhaps because producer Gary Usher was also working with the Byrds at the same time. For all that, the songs, espousing a gentle hippie ethos, were not nearly as distinctive as any of the groups to which the Peanut Butter Conspiracy bore some surface similarities. So this is middling late-'60s pop-psych-folk-rock, though not without some attractive facets. Incidentally, both of the band's first albums have been packaged in their entirety, along with three bonus cuts, on Collectables' single-CD compilation The Peanut Butter Conspiracy Is Spreading/The Great Conspiracy.

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