Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Underground Sunshine

After we featured our Forgotten Hits 40th Anniversary Salute to The Beatles' White Album, we thought that we would feature this rarely heard Forgotten Hit, too!

You probably haven't heard the Underground Sunshine version of Birthday on the radio in close to 40 years!!! Why would you ... when they can play the far superior original Beatles version instead?!?!?

But, amazingly, this light-weight (almost sterile) version went all the way to #19 on The Cash Box Chart in the Summer of '69 (and, incredibly, all the way to #2 here in Chicago!!!)

Underground Sunshine consisted of the unusual match-up of Montello, Wisconsin based Chris Connors (aka John Dahlberg) on guitar and vocals and Jane Little (real last name Whirry) on keyboards ... (Jane is the younger sister of radio personality Johnathan Little) ... who teamed with German-born brothers Bert and Frank Kohl (actually Koelbl), on bass and drums respectively.

Their very "vanilla" version of Birthday would be their only chart-hit but it earned them a spot on American Bandstand as well as the right to record what is now considered to be a very collectible psychedelic album called Let There Be Light.
(Honestly, every garage band in the city worth their guitar strings added Birthday to their repertoire after The White Album came out ... and virtually every single one of them performed it better than these guys ... but they were the ones smart enough to release it as a single!!! Like I said, you probably haven't heard it on the radio since ... but in 1969, this was the version of Birthday that they were playing on the air!!!)

Follow-up versions of David Gates' (of Bread) Don't Shut Me Out and the Classic Rock Classic Jesus Is Just Alright failed to chart at all and the band split up shortly thereafter.

(You can find more information on Underground Sunshine in Gary Myers' book Do You Hear That Beat, which profiles all of the Wisconsin Rock Bands of this era!)