Looking Glass

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The Looking Glass (not to be confused with the similarly named New Jersey-based band of "Brandy" fame) were a singing trio who bridged the gap between early-'60s pop/rock and mid- to late-'60s sunshine…
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The Looking Glass (not to be confused with the similarly named New Jersey-based band of "Brandy" fame) were a singing trio who bridged the gap between early-'60s pop/rock and mid- to late-'60s sunshine pop, without ever seeing the success that their best work should have earned them. The group hailed from California, and went through a lineup shift and two name changes in the course of a five-year recording career. They came out of Sacramento as the Tri-Lites, made up of Mona Witry, Ron Andre, and Bonnie Andre (aka Bonnie Donato). The group got out a pair of singles -- one of them for the Kapp label -- without any success, and Witry was later replaced by Bonnie Andre's sister, Linda Donato. Her arrival, in turn, also heralded a name change to West Winds, and a switch to a folkier sound.

By 1966, the folk-rock boom was in full swing and the music business in full bloom in California. They were signed to Valiant Records, the southern California-based label that was also the home of the Association, and, at the label's insistence, they changed their name once more, to the more enigmatic and potentially trippy Looking Glass, which seemed better to embody the direction in which music was going.

Their only Valiant release, the upbeat and smooth "Silver and Sunshine (How Beautiful Is Our Love)" (with a B-side of "If I Never Love Again"), was sort of midway between the Angels and Spanky & Our Gang, and could even have been a commercial jingle about the summer before the Summer of Love. It came to the group from the pens of the Addrisi Brothers, the singing/songwriting siblings who were also under contract to Valiant, and whose "Never My Love" was to hit nationally in the hands of the Association a year later. Renowned sunshine pop/psychedelic producer Curt Boettcher may also been involved in the recording, though this is only an informed supposition; the record has the same sort of polish that he could bring to a recording, though the single's overall sound wouldn't make this one of Boettcher's more ambitious productions. The song, which originated as a jingle written for a religious youth camp, never charted but it did do well enough locally in California so that when Warner Bros. Records later absorbed the Valiant label, the Looking Glass weren't jettisoned. They did one record for Warner, "Love Is Not Everything," before making a leap to the Uni label for two singles.

Sad to say, the trio never saw any national success or any lasting impact despite pleasing harmony singing and a potentially appealing image, and both Ron and Bonnie Andre and Linda Donato appear to have left the music business behind. They also never recorded more than four songs for any one label, making the assembly of a compilation very complicated, and left behind only a dozen released songs, barely enough for a modern compilation. In 2004, however, "Silver and Sunshine (How Beautiful Is Our Love)" was resurrected on Rhino Handmade's Come to the Sunshine: Soft Pop Nuggets from the WEA Vaults, giving the trio its biggest (and, in fact, only) shot at national exposure since 1968.