The massive exploitation of the infamous Summer of Love and its 40th Anniversary spawned numerous collections, some legitimate in their intent, others finding a new way to package the usual pool of available favorites. Having grown up in the K-Tel era, I remember every commercial with their seemingly never-ending on-screen scrolling of popular songs on any particular package. I found this to be intoxicating as I was in love with music from a very early age. Radios were constant companions as they spewed out the stream of Top40 classics, good and bad. Repackaging a collection of accessible hits is as prevalent a practice today as it was during the K-Tel era. And I still find it a thrill. What it boils down to is a psychological need for memories of fond years and the songs of yesteryear are those memory-markers.
Time/Life visits Rhino’s already extensive collection of ‘60s and ‘70s hits (Rhino let loose with a popular ‘70s series (Have a Nice Day) back in the ‘80s) and assembled a time-capsule collection of hits from the genuine “hippie” era. Other vaults visited were from Universal, EMI, and Sony/BMG. The set houses 10 CDs in 5 jewel cases, slip-cased into a sturdy 6”x 5.5”cardboard box that sits comfortably on your CD shelf. The 5 separate cases with 2 CDs each are themed further by designating a style. The first set is called Groovin’ and replays 34 well-known selections that are soft pop, beginning with “Groovin’” (The Young Rascal), and cueing up on others like “Listen to the Music” (Doobie Brothers), “Both Sides Now” (Judy Collins), “You’re so Vain” (Carly Simon), “Beginnings” (Chicago), and more of that type.
The second set is called Time of the Season and contains 35 classics that are more philosophic, idealistic, and progressive in nature. There are hits like “Here Comes the Sun” (Richie Havens), “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (in Perfect Harmony)” (The New Seekers), “Mr Bojangles” (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), “We Shall Overcome” (Joan Baez), and a whole lot of other familiar songs. The third set, with 32 tunes, is themed Born to be Wild and as the sub-title will tell you, is a selection of the more fanciful side. On this set are songs like “Born to be Wild” (Steppenwolf), “Something in the Air” (Thunderclap Newman), “Summertime Blues” (Blue Cheer), “Baby, It’s You” (The Smiths), “What’s Goin’ On” (Marvin Gaye), and others songs of rebellion, etc.
The fourth collection contains 34 songs and is sub-titled Age of Aquarius. It provides the peaceful, aware-heightened hippie tunes like “White Rabbit” (Jefferson Airplane), “Eight Miles High” (The Byrds), “Sunshine Superman” (Donovan), “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” (Melanie), and others. The fifth and final disc is themed the necessary Summer of Love, and contains 40 tracks unerringly found in all Summer of Love collections; songs like “Down on Me” (Janis Joplin & the Holding Company), “Somebody to Love” (Jefferson Airplane), “Get Together” (Youngbloods) and the ubiquitous “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” (Scott McKenzie). And for some reason that I cannot explain other than it stands as an entry point into my album-oriented appreciation, I never tire of that song.
Each 2-disc set is boosted by its own 8-page booklet with some photos, and notes from Colin Escott, as well as complete credits and charting information for each song. You should note that many of the artists in this collection have more than one track on this collection, sometimes on the same disc, which dilutes the overall availability of a wider range of songs. However, some people immensely enjoy several songs from the same artist. It ultimately ends up being what moves you if you’re inclined toward a collected set like this.
It’s a safe bet that you already own a sizeable ‘50s,‘60s,‘70s,’80, and/or ‘90s collection. You’re not immune to this nor should you be reviled for it. Like Deckard and any life-seeking replicant (useful Blade Runner metaphor), we all need our “photographs” to give detail to our existence. Music does that exceptionally well. If you don’t have such a collection and you’re looking for a good late ‘60s/early ‘70s package, this themed Flower Power is as good as any collection to bring the flood of memories and great songs back into your life.
The music found on Flower Power is a slice of history – your past – that is simply therapeutic to this time of a different brand of music. You may already have these songs on your iPod, you may already own a set much like this, or you may despise altogether a collection of assembled hits that have been included in countless other collected sets, but, if you need a memory, or 175 of them (that’s how many songs are here), this period piece is good for the soul. As Jethro Tull sings, “…let’s go living in the past.”