Quality: 3.25 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 3.75 out of 5
Here's a group of folky hippies from Norway who seem to have taken a trip to India in their minds, and returned with a sitar, tabla, and an Indian flute found in the local pawn shop. That is to say that while the trappings of Indian music are more than present here, it's a pretty superficial thing although it does add a nice textural touch to this album. At it's heart the music recalls the Free Design at its best, and the sugary side of Peter, Paul, and Mary at its worst.
On top of this faux-Indian construction are some boy/girl vocals, very much hitting the 'hippy mama,' 'spiritual daddy' vibe. Their voices are quite good and mingle pretty well for the most part, which is probably what is making me thing of the Free Design.
The thing with this kind of music is to balance the sugar with a touch of strychnine. Oriental Sunshine manages to do this on the pretty awesome "Across Your Life" quite well. The second half of the album also walks the line well on tracks like "Can Anybody Tell" and "My Way To Be Hurt." The caveat here is that by this time you may be getting a little tired of their vibe as it doesn't change much from the California-meadow-with-sitars vibe over the album. When they finally try and delve deeper into Indian composition on "Where You Went," it just sounds silly.
Other times, the sugar starts to scrape on my gag reflex. "Mother Nature" should tip you off, and if it doesn't, lines about 'talking to the trees' will. "Look At Me" makes me think of the midwestern runaway having an acid freak out in the street in late-1968 San Francisco.
So, this album doesn't really get my seal of approval, although there's definitely a must hear track or two lying around (like the opener). If you're open to the gentle pastoral hippy thing, feel free to bump up the rating a notch or so. I've just got so much tolerance for it personally.
Oriental Sunshine - 1970 - Dedicated To The Bird We Love