Nights at the Roundtable with another entry in the top-40 era of Pop Music - Quasi-Folk/Rock - Sunshine Pop/Psychedelic, Middle Of The Road - identity crisis laden group The Sandpipers with their nod to Sunshine Psychedelia, Glass from 1967.
January 31, 2012

The Sandpipers (seen here during their Folk-Rock phase). Morphed to the point of identity crisis.

During those halcyon days of AM Top-40 radio, it was possible to have a song that crossed over into many different genres because Top-40 Radio could do that. It didn't discriminate and it wasn't narrow in its vision. If you tossed it out there and the audience liked it, who cared? I will admit that, if it wasn't for Top-40 radio I probably never would have heard Buck Owens.

But as music began to change and audiences tastes were being gradually weaned away from Top-40 and into the extended-solo laden territory of FM Underground, it became harder for groups that didn't exactly fit snugly into one musical style or another to get airplay. Especially if your group had something of an identity crisis.

Case in point, The Sandpipers. Believe it or not, they were initially trying to go after the Folk-Rock market (a-la The Association, hence the snappy suits in the photo above) and out of the starting gate had their first (and biggest) hit Guantanamera which drove a lot of people crazy because it had something to do with Castro and the Cuban Revolution. But the fact of the matter was, The Sandpipers just weren't edgy enough. And in 1966 things were starting to change. A lot of bands lost their way and either broke up or went strictly commercial (like The Association, who went from Bob Dylan's One Too Many Mornings to the syrupy Never My Love in less than a year). With The Sandpipers, it was attempting to keep the momentum of the first hit going while trying to morph into something else that would have audience appeal for a second hit.

That's where tonight's track comes in. Glass came out in 1967, right about the time the music went Paisley. And rather than go back to their folk-rock roots, The Sandpipers' label A&M decided they would do best to briefly embrace the Sunshine/Pop-Psych genre made popular by groups like Sagittarius ("My World Fell Down"), and if you're familiar with that song, you will notice they borrowed from it liberally, and try their chances with that.

The end result was a track that, like Raymond Lefevre from last night, was played a lot, not identified very much and stuck firmly in your head on a purely unconscious level until the middle of most nights.

Glass was popular but it didn't chart and The Sandpipers scrapped the Sunshine/Psych format in favor of what became Middle Of The Road. And stayed like that until they finally called it a day in 1975.

It's been considered a "best of" by A&M since then and was reissued on CD in 2002. But tonight it's the 45 mono mix of Glass, and sounds considerably different than the stereo one. As was often the case with pop music in the Top-40 era, hours and days were spent making the mono mix perfect for AM radio and the Stereo mix was often an afterthought, slapped together in less than 15 minutes.

And that's today's lesson for "Why music gets that way".

Stay tuned - we're not even at the mid point yet.

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