PortFolio Weekly

PortFolio Weekly
July 24, 2007

Feelin' Groovy

by Jim Newsom

Various Artists
Summer of Love: The Hits of 1967


Did anybody go to the "Summer of Love 2007" concert earlier this month at the nTelos? Just for kicks, I checked the Pavilionís website the afternoon of the show to see if decent tickets were still for sale. Much to my surprise, Orchestra Center Row B came up as "best available." If I could get second row seats four hours before the show, Iím guessing the turnout was pretty slim.

With that in mind, I canít help but wonder if the hype surrounding the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love isnít falling mostly on uninterested or unaware ears. Could be: Letís face itóyou probably had to be there to care, and even if you were, do you really want to see a bunch of 60-somethings croaking out their long-ago hits accompanied by faceless, nameless pick-up-bandmates?

But for those who have forgotten or who are too young to remember, there was a lot of great music filling the airwaves in 1967. The folks at Time-Life have compiled 40 examples for the new box-set, Summer of Love: The Hits of 1967. Itís a lot of fun, filled with obvious choices like the summerís theme song, Scott McKenzie singing "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)." The Box Tops grab an aero-plane on "The Letter;" The Buckinghams build "Kind of a Drag" around a Hammond organ and some cookiní horns; and The Turtles imagine me and you, I do, in "Happy Together." Thereís the best thing The Monkees ever did, "Pleasant Valley Sunday," The Associationís happy-go-lucky "Windy" and the bubblegum psychedelia of "Incense and Peppermints" by the unforgettably named Strawberry Alarm Clock.

With the two CDs of this three-disc set divvied up as "AM" and "FM," you get to travel from Motown to San Francisco, Memphis to London, with pop smashes and underground cult-faves along the way. Besides the hits, there are plenty of less-remembered tunes like the Blues Magoosí "(We Ainít Got) Nothing Yet," and The Butterfield Blues Band doing Mike Nesmithís "Mary Mary" mixed in with "Brown Eyed Girl," "Somebody to Love" and "Get Together." The Seeds epitomize garage rock with "Pushiní Too Hard," the Grass Roots sha-la-la their way through "Letís Live for Today," Janis Joplin is over the top belting out "Down on Me" and the Vanilla Fudge defines "heavy" with their cover of "You Keep Me Hanginí On."

The third disc of the set is a DVD thatís actually one of the episodes of the Time-Life television series, The History of Rock and Roll, a ten-parter that aired in 1995. While it starts with the Human Be-In that kicked off 1967 in San Franciscoís Golden Gate Park, includes the comments of Jerry Garcia, Paul Kantner and David Crosby, and footage of the Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead and Hendrix, it is not necessarily year-specific. It is interesting, though, and a memento for those of us old enough to remember. The booklet is filled with little known trivia, making this an engaging journey back to peace, love, flowers and VW microbuses.

copyright © 2007 Jim Newsom. All Rights Reserved.