Introducing Harpers Bizarre (Sunshine Pop #2)

Exploring the archives of ’60s music continues to make me discover so many bands that I have never heard of before and whose music gives me so much delight. That the songs remain refreshing and engaging, after more than half a century, is amazing. It proves that even with music, age doesn’t matter.

I get drawn to all the catchy melodies from the string or horn-oriented instrumentation as well as playful vocal harmonies. These are the primary characteristics of what is known now as Sunshine Pop, which flourished in the late ’60s.

Of the many bands whose full albums I have been immersing myself in for the past couple of months now, Harpers Bizarre is one of the standouts. The ornate and progressive quality of its songs is something that many contemporary bands will surely find difficult to emulate. Harpers Bizarre’s music is definitely up there with that of the likes of The Beach Boys (“Wouldn’t It Be Nice?”), The 5th Dimension (“Up, Up and Away”), and Spanky & Our Gang (“Sunday Will Never Be the Same”).

Formed in 1967, in Sta. Cruz, California, United States, Harpers Bizarre consisted primarily of Ted Templeman (vocals, drums, guitar) and Dick Scoppettone (vocals, guitar, bass). Other musicians who became members were Tom Sowell (guitar), Eddie James (bass, vocals), Dick Yount (bass, vocals), and John Petersen (drums, percussion, vocals). The band developed a sound characterized by cheerful and airy sensibilities, both in lyrics and accompaniment, often adorned with string and woodwind orchestration.

In its three-year activity, and a brief reunion in 1976, Harpers Bizarre released five studio albums–1967’s Feelin’ Groovy and Anything Goes, 1968’s The Secret Life of Harpers Bizarre, 1969’s Harpers Bizarre 4, and 1976’s As Time Goes By.

Recommended songs are “Come to the Sunshine,” “Happy Talk,” “Pocketful of Miracles,” “Chatanooga Choo Choo,” “Look to the Rainbow,” “Green Apple Tree,” “Soft Soundin’ Music,” “There’s No Time like Today,” “Banana King Louie,” and “My Melancholy Baby.”