Harpers Bizarre were an odd lot of gentlemen. Their first LP, Feelin’ Groovy, was a sunshiny, saccharine starburst from the Summer of Love. Heavy on West Coast feel-goodery and carried along by very well chosen Randy Newman covers, it ushered in a new era of quirky twee pop.
Their second LP did it again. And the one after that did it over again. And so on and so on, with each subsequent disc producing diminishing returns. So the best of Harpers Bizarre can be distilled to maybe half of a greatest-hits collection (and has been repeatedly), though their impact outstretches their inability to flower into what could have been a truly impressive new direction in modern music. Oh well.
When they were good, they were great. Tackling a cover of Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes” on a 1967 album of the same name, Harpers Bizarre solidified their style with help from legendary producer Lenny Waronker and the simply legendary Van Dyke Parks. Shimmering and effervescent, the album played 40 years after its release leaves the listener quietly charmed.
Of course, back in the day you’d probably wonder whether this band of merry goofs could possibly be trying to sink their career. Remarking on how minimal its impact was and how few copies it moved, allmusic.com reviewer Richie Unterberger said it could only have “generated enough royalties to feed the parking meter for a few hours.” Ha. Probably.