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Harpers Bizarre

As part of the sunshine pop movement of the late 1960s, California group Harpers Bizarre made light and easygoing songs characterized by orchestral instrumentation, lush vocal harmonies, and mirthful subject matter. During a brief run between 1967 and 1970, the band enjoyed a few minor hits and released four albums with their original lineup, embracing a slightly more countercultural approach by the time of 1969's Harpers Bizarre 4. Core member Ted Templeman would go on to work mostly as a producer, working with Carly Simon, Van Morrison, the Doobie Brothers, Van Halen, and many other stars as the years went on. Harpers Bizarre began as the Tikis, a short-lived band from Santa Cruz that formed in 1963 and included Templeman, Dickie Scoppettone, Eddie James, Dick Yount, and John Peterson, who had briefly played in the Beau Brummels. The Tikis dabbled in surf and Beatles-inspired pop songs, and released a few singles. In 1967, the group recorded a version of Simon & Garfunkel's "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" with an arrangement by Leon Russell that emphasized vocal harmonizing and a bright, optimistic tone. The song was released as a single under the name Harpers Bizarre and immediately outperformed anything the Tikis had attempted, rising to number 13 on the U.S. Billboard charts and also cracking the Top 50 in the U.K. The band quickly recorded a debut album, Feelin' Groovy, which was released in April 1967 and included a second minor hit with the Van Dyke Parks cover "Come to the Sunshine." Before the end of the year, second album Anything Goes was released, named for the group's rendition of the Cole Porter tune that was included on the album and charted as a single. James left Harpers Bizarre shortly after Anything Goes was released and was replaced by Tom Sowell. The band issued several other singles and albums, including 1968's The Secret Life of Harpers Bizarre and 1969's Harpers Bizarre 4, always presenting a mixture of original material and covers of popular songs of the day in their sunny, chamber pop style. Subsequent work never matched the commercial success of their first few singles, and by 1970 Harpers Bizarre quietly dissolved, with Templeman pursuing production work for Warner Bros. records. A partial reunion without Templeman resulted in the 1976 album As Time Goes By.
© Fred Thomas /TiVo


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