STILL MOD AFTER ALL THESE YEARS: Peggy Lipton

Peggy Lipton 2

Turns out our fave rave Julie Barnes was cuttin’ out on her fellow Mod Squad-ers Mike and Link, hanging out with Lou Adler, Carole King and L.A.’s legendary Wrecking Crew team of studio musicians. Her 1968 self-titled album tanked, but as a new reissue from Real Gone reveals, it was very much of its countercultural (read: Laurel Canyon/hippie/etc.) milieu. Watch some choice Lipton-centric clips following the text.

BY TIM HINELY

Peggy Lipton — we knew her as Julie Barnes from the 1968-73 TV Series The Mod Squad; decades later, she played Norma Jennings on Twin Peaks — recorded an album in 1968, which I was totally unaware of until I saw this album staring me in the face. I’m not surprised though; back then lots of Hollywood stars did it, so it wouldn’t have been a total shock or anything (22 at the time of the record, Lipton had been writing songs since the age of 15).

Mod Squad

The front cover of Julie Lipton was great, this close-up pic of her face staring straight out at the camera with some bushes behind her. This record, however, wasn’t a scenario of “quick let’s get this rising star into a recording studio and see if she can be a star on two fronts,” though. Lipton was an aspiring singer, a self-described “tormented hippie-pop torch singer”—but based on the liner quotes in The Complete Ode Recordings (Real Gone Music) from Billboard magazine, they were really banking on her to be a big star.

Peggy Lipton CD

With help from the Wrecking Crew and Carole King (and of course producer Lou Adler), Lipton recorded 11 songs. Four of were Lipton originals. Among the others are some Goffin/King numbers (“A Natural Woman,” “It Might As Well Rain Until September,” etc.), a few by Laura Nyro (“Stoney End,” ‘Hands Off the Man (Flim Flam Man)” and “Lu”) and even an old Beach Boys (Brian Wilson) tune, “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times.” Also included here are eight bonus tracks (one of which Lipton also penned), most notably the non-album B-side Donovan Cover “Wear Your Love Like Heaven.”

Of those Lipton originals, the lush opener “Let Me Pass By” is a strong cut, as is the twinkling “San Francisco Glide” and the album closer (before the bonus material kicks in) “Honey Won’t Let me.”

Peggy Lipton 45

Peggy Lipton 45 2

In the end, despite the help of bigwig Adler (who Lipton was dating at the time; she would later marry, then divorce, another producing legend, Quincy Jones, and their two daughters Rashida and Kidada would become noted actresses), the record didn’t sell well and sank without a trace.

Listening to it, however, it’s a good record. It’s very of the times, very pleasant California soft-pop, and despite the fact that Lipton herself stated that she “sang the whole record off-key and Lou couldn’t fix it,” she’s probably just being hard on herself: the vocals sound fine to me.

Not just an odd, California, late ‘60s artifact, this record will appeal to soft pop fans the world over. Maybe even the stray Mike, Link and Julie obsessive out there, too. (Below: Lipton now.)

Petty Lipton 2013

Below are several YouTube audio and video clips of Lipton performing as well as appearing in “The Mod Squad.” There is also a luscious video of her live on the Andy Williams Show in ’69 doing – and clearly lipsynching – Laura Nyro’s “Lu” well worth viewing.

“I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” (Beach Boys)

“Stoney End” (Laura Nyro)

“Wear Your Love Like Heaven” (Donovan

Live on Hollywood Palace 1969: “Just A Little Lovin'” solo & “Little Green Apples” w/Sammy Davis Jr. (!)

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