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Love Generation

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Of the many sunshine pop groups that proliferated in Southern California in the late '60s, the Love Generation were one of the most wholesome and downright sunniest. "Sunniest" is not necessarily synonymous with "best," even for a genre called "sunshine pop." The Love Generation's records were about as over-the-top as their name in their smiley-face, see-no-evil, upbeat, even anodyne harmonized pop/rock, commercial enough to often be mistaken for commercial jingles. Taking the advances of sunshine pop godfathers and godmothers the Mamas & the Papas to the most saccharine extremes (with echoes of the Beach Boys and the Association as well), the Love Generation released three albums in 1967 and 1968, getting small hit singles with "Groovy Summertime" and "Montage From How Sweet It Is (I Knew That You Knew)." The Love Generation were not quite as faceless as some acts plundering this territory, though, as much of their material was written by brothers John Bahler and Tom Bahler. The arrangements were densely crafted blends of male-female vocal harmonies and orchestrated pop/rock that put quite a bit of frosting on the incessantly chipper tunes.

At its outset, the group was a sextet of the Bahler Brothers, ex-New Christy Minstrels member Ann White, Marilyn Miller (who had supplied Sally Field's singing voice on the Gidget TV show), Mitch Gordon, and Jim Wasson. John Bahler took the greatest share of the lead vocals, and session musicians played the instruments. The lyrics often tapped into the most optimistic and innocuous traits of the early hippie generation, with references to love-ins, sunshine (naturally), summer, dreams, candy, and magic peppering not just the words but the song titles: "Fluffy Rain," "Meet Me at the Love-In," "Consciousness Expansion," "Love and Sunshine," "Candy," "Magic Land," and "Love Is a Rainy Sunday" were just some of them.

The group really existed in name only by the third and last album, Montage, on which only the Bahlers and producer/arranger Tommy Oliver were listed in the liner notes. Gordon, White, and the Bahlers all sang as studio backup vocalists in subsequent years, with Tom Bahler writing songs for others including Cher ("Living in a House Divided") and Michael Jackson ("She's Out of My Life"), as well as co-writing "We Are the World." The Bahlers might be most famous/notorious, though, for recording and supplying several songs used in early episodes of The Partridge Family, several of them appearing (with the Bahlers' lead vocals) on the Partridge Family's first album.

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