Sagittarius: Present Tense (1968)

Sagittarius is largely the work of producer Gary Usher (best known for producing the Byrds' best albums and as a frequent Beach Boys collaborator) and singer-songwriter Curt Boettcher (a sunshine pop/soft rock pioneer, whose phenomenal album Begin -- recorded by The Millennium -- I've discussed previously). Their first of two albums, Present Tense largely retains the sunshine pop aspects of The Millennium, sweet and light and largely free of the harder edges working their way into popular music in the late 60s. But there are a few more obviously psychedelic songs here, and those are the clear stand-outs that make this more than a curiosity for fans of sunshine pop and devotees of Usher and/or Boettcher.

The tour de force "My World Fell Down" is light psychedelia, Zombies-like baroque pop with a lovely hook in the chorus, the string- and harmony-laden production a chance for Usher to show off his studio chops (aided by tremendous vocals courtesy of Glen Campbell and Beach Boy Bruce Johnston). And "The Truth Is Not Real" is a lost psychedelic classic, deliriously trippy with shades of the Moody Blues. Meanwhile, "I'm Not Living Here" channels the Mamas & the Papas and the early Byrds with it's lustrous blend of folk and pop; it doesn't necessarily fit in with the rest of the album (it was a holdover from another Boettcher project, the Ballroom), but it remains a fantastic late 60s gem that would've been a major AM radio hit in a more just universe.

Much of the rest is a little more straight & narrow, guileless sunshine pop, but when you have something titled "Song To The Magic Frog," at least you've been given fair warning. (And, to be fair, "Magic Frog" is a perfectly fine little sunshine pop nugget, so there.)

Here's a little visual silliness for "The Truth Is Not Real":
And an audio rip of "My World Fell Down":
...and an audio rip of "I'm Not Living Here":

Comments

  1. It's noI. Yes, this is the blueprint for sunshine pop, and served as a gateway into my love for music in this genre. Good to see it represented here :) Come to the sunshine, baby!

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