Factory — “Try a Little Sunshine”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — May 23, 2022


460) The Factory — “Try a Little Sunshine

The fifth song I ever featured on this blog was the Factory’s “Path Through the Forest”, one of the most titantic slabs of ’60’s British psych to be found. Today I feature the A-side of the band’s second and final single (released a year later in ’69). Vernon Joynson calls “Try a Little Sunshine” a “classic slice[] of British psychedelia” (The Tapestry of Delights Revisited) and David Wells calls it an “unashamedly lysergic vignette[]”, and “a powerful, blissed-out ballad that, with the Factory supplying the musical muscle, was transformed into a teasing echo of the Who’s ‘Disquises’ . . . .” (liner notes to The Upside Down World of John Pantry comp) Nostalgia Central says it is “reminiscent of The Who with its crunching guitar chords and vocal harmonies”. (https://nostalgiacentral.com/music/artists-a-to-k/artists-f/factory/)

OK, this was more a John Pantry record than a Factory one. David Wells tells us that “The Factory were fatally handicapped by a lack of internal songwriting ability, and two Pantry songs were chosen as the band’s second single in the summer of 1969. Unfortunately they were unable to cope with the vocal demands of either . . . and John was required to supply lead and backing vocals on both songs. The results were, of course, masterful.” This didn’t sit well with the Factory. As Nostalgia Central relates:

Try a Little Sunshine . . . like its predecessor . . . was heard by very few. The single brought the multi-talented John Pantry into the studio as writer and lead vocalist, thus effectively reducing The Factory to the status of backing band on their own record. Disillusioned, the young group disbanded shortly afterwards.


Who was John Pantry? David Wells says that had “Pantry been American, he would surely now enjoy the same kind of belated cult reputation as the likes of Emitt Rhodes . . . . Sadly, though, John’s body of work prior to his decision in the early Seventies to turn his back on secular recordings in favor of spreading he Christian word is familiar to far fewer people than should be the case.” Jason delves into Pantry’s history:

[Pantry] had been a talented studio engineer for IBC Studios (working with Eddie Tre-Vett), producing for the likes of Donovan, The Small Faces, The Bee Gees, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, and Cream. He was also a member of Peter & The Wolves, an accomplished mid 60s pop group from Leigh-on-Sea/Southend and had a major hand with many other IBC studio projects of the time: the Factory, Sounds Around, Wolfe, The Bunch and Norman Conquest. . . . Besides being a savvy studio technician, Pantry was a gifted songwriter and vocalist and an accomplished musician . . . . [O]ne of Pantry’s first groups, Sounds Around. . . . played straight pop with slight soul and psych influences . . . . Peter & The Wolves came shortly after Sounds Around’s demise (they were essentially the same group). This is the group with which Pantry is most associated, along with The Factory. Peter & The Wolves[‘] most productive period was probably the years of 1967-1969, where they released a string of pop gems: a good, upbeat blue-eyed soul number titled “Still”, the superb Emitt Rhodes like “Woman On My Mind” and several tuneful psych pop creations, “Lantern Light,” “Birthday,” and “Little Girl Lost And Found” being the best in this style. It was around this time that John Pantry was asked to write two tracks for The Factory . . . .


Oh, one more point about “Try a Little Sunshine.” Vernon Joynson tells us that “sunshine” was slang for LSD, leading to the song being banned by the BBC. David Wells, however, notes that: “John’s rather ambiguous response is that it was merely ‘the ramblings of a creative mind. It’s pretty clear that the reference to sunshine was some sort of feel-good drug. However, not everything is full of meaning– much of what came out of that era had no logical explanation . . . .'” Well Wells, I would say that the fact that much of what came out of that era had no logical explanation had a lot to do with a certain “feel-good” drug!

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