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Pure Serendipity: Now Sounds Uncovers Serendipity Singers’ Psych-Pop Treasure

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HSerendipity Singers - Love is a State of Mindere’s a prescription for convalescent hippies you oughta know…

Webster’s defines serendipity as “the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for,” making it an apropos name for The Serendipity Singers.  The group was formed in 1963 at the University of Colorado in the days when The New Christy Minstrels could sell one million copies of “Green, Green” and folk music was being happily served to the masses by clean-scrubbed young men and women with a spoonful of sugar.  This was before Beatlemania, and before Dylan went electric, after all.  So when the Newport Singers ventured east to New York’s Greenwich Village, they quickly and happily found a patron in Fred Weintraub, impresario of the New York nightspot The Bitter End – it was serendipity!  Weintraub added three new vocalists, bringing the roster to nine, and oversaw their rechristening as The Serendipity Singers.  (Seven of the nine members were also musicians.)  Their very first single, “Don’t Let the Rain Come Down (Crooked Little Man),” went Top 10 in May 1964, joining those young Fabs in the upper reaches of the chart.  Hootenanny after hootenanny followed, but by 1967, folk music had begun to cross-breed with the new “rock”…sans the roll.  Now signed to United Artists Records following a successful stint on the Philips label, the Serendipitys realized that they had the embrace, well, the now sound.   And that’s why it’s appropriate – serendipitous, even – that the Now Sounds label has delivered a deluxe, expanded mono/stereo reissue of The Serendipity Singers’ very groovy 1968 platter Love is a State of Mind.

One imagines that the prominent sitars, lysergic vocals and droning raga of the album’s title track – written by founding member Mike Brovsky and the 1967 recruit Nick Holmes – would have come as a shock to those expecting the light calypso of “Don’t Let the Rain Come Down” or even the banned-in-Boston “Beans in My Ears,” an upbeat and childlike but potent protest song reflecting on the generation gap.  But the cover of Love is a State of Mind clued listeners in that this was a different Serendipity Singers, even beyond the personnel changes.  It featured another new member, former Angel Peggy Santiglia, among a psychedelic sea of faces.  Even the rear photograph showed the Singers looking a bit more severe than in the past.  With production duties taken by the entire group as well as the team of Brovsky and former member Bryan Sennett, Love blended group originals with some choice covers including two by another Weintraub client: Neil Diamond.

After the jump, we take a trip with The Serendipity Singers!  Plus: a full track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 12, 2013 at 15:24