Monday, July 16, 2018

Free Design

If you've been a regular reader, you might recall how I raved about The Flat Five. I believe I posted three times about this supergroup of sorts from Chicago since they released their debut in 2016, which by the way, was my favorite record of that year. While crawling around the YouTube rat hole, I found no less than 50 live covers from the band, some of which I posted HERE. Some of those covers were originally recorded by the Free Design, who All Music describes as a "jazzy pop band of the 1960's with psych pop sunshine coarsing through its veins."

I'm okay with that.

I realize sunshine pop sometimes comes very close to becoming easy listening, but after listening to about two dozen Free Design tracks, I am totally sold. These guys were something else, however you categorize them. I was also very pleased to see Todd Rundgren call them amazing in a recent interview for Reverb.

All that said, I have posted some tracks for your listening pleasure, or quite possibly displeasure, though I hope that is not the case, because I am in love with these guys.  I am a sucker for harmony, and I can, more than occasionally, be a real sap. I would blame getting older, but I have always been affected by this type of song. I mean, "You Are My Sunshine?" But just listen to what they do with it.

Me aside, the arrangements here are stellar. Just check out the tune at the top, "Bubbles." Can sunshine pop be hot? I think so. "Bubbles" is hot!

Free Design is not for everyone. I get that. But, right now, I am binge listening to their double anthology and finding a lot to love. I am impressed, to say the least.


Shriner said...

I hear Spanky and Our Gang with Carpenter-type arrangements. I can see this slotting in somewhere.

"Bubbles" is up-tempo. The rest are not. Is there anything else as up-tempo as the first thing you posted?

Sal Nunziato said...

It's a mixed bag, but yes. Check out their "hits"--"Kites Are Fun" and "I Found Love."

Anonymous said...

Lots of Free Design background in the Jingle Bell Rocks! documentary streaming on Prime.

Anonymous said...

I concur! - Stinky

A walk in the woods said...

I got into The Free Design via a song Stereolab did with that name (and, I love Stereolab).

buzzbabyjesus said...

Cool stuff. A musician friend tried to turn me onto them about a dozen years ago, but the timing was wrong.
As soon as you mentioned "You Are My Sunshine" I thought of the brief, mournful bit on "SMiLE".
It sure sounds like Brian played piano on, and arranged their version.

Anonymous said...

I'm really not trying to throw a rock through your front window because I love this blog but I always think of Sunshine Pop as Bubblegum music for adults. Heck, Bubblegum music rocks more.

I need most of my music to have soul, deep feelings and this music is sweet syrup mixed with sugar, yuck! This provides none of the musical nutrition I crave, in fact it delivers the opposite.

Sorry to be a bastard, really but this stuff creeps me out.

Captain Al

PS: But Captain tell us how you really feel! I'm such a knucklehead! Not to subtle either, sorry.

Ken D said...

Despite my affection for the Flat Five (and Spanky &OG and The Association) this isn't doing it for me. But thanks for trying.

Nice neckerchiefs, though.