Diverted By Peggy Lipton

Okay, right off the top, take a listen to Peggy Lipton:

I found that rather nice cover of Donovan’s 1967 single “Wear Your Love Like Heaven” after I saw it listed in the Billboard Hot 100 from June 27, 1970, forty-four years ago today. It was bubbling under at No. 112 and would get as high as No. 108 before falling out of sight. (One of the things I particularly like about Lipton’s record is producer Lou Adler quoting from Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman” in the introduction.)

Lipton was better known in the late 1960s and early 1970s as one of three young stars (along with Michael Cole and Clarence Williams III) of the television series The Mod Squad, which centered around three young folks who agreed to work as undercover cops in order to stay out of jail. The series ran from September 1968 through August 1973 and was, says Wikipedia, “one of the earliest attempts to deal with the counterculture. Groundbreaking in the realm of socially relevant drama, it dealt with issues such as abortion, domestic violence, student protest, child neglect, illiteracy, slumlords, the anti-war movement, soldiers returning from Vietnam, racism, and the illegal drug trade.”

(Was it that good? I never watched the show much back then, but I’ve taken in a few clips on YouTube in the past few days, and what I’ve seen seems slow and a little clunky. But that’s a perspective from more than forty years on, so I dunno.)

Lipton might be better known these days as the mother of Rashida Jones, who plays Ann Perkins on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, or for having played Norma Jennings in the 1990s television show Twin Peaks, or perhaps as the ex-wife of Quincy Jones, to whom Lipton was married from 1974 to 1990.

But it was as Julie Barnes in The Mod Squad that the utterly beautiful Lipton came to the public’s attention. She sang at least once during the show’s run. In a 1969 episode, she auditioned for a roadhouse singing job with a performance of Carole King’s “Now That Everything’s Been Said.” (Sharp-eyed viewers will note the presence of a young Tyne Daly and, behind the drum kit, Hal Blaine.)

Her 1968 self-titled album included a cover of Laura Nyro’s “Stoney End,” which was released as a single; it bubbled under at No. 121. A single-only release, “Lu,” bubbled under at No. 102 in early 1970, followed by “Wear Your Love Like Heaven,” which was also a single-only release. Discogs.com lists one Canadian and one Japanese single; the B-side of the Japanese single was “Just A Little Lovin’ (Early In The Mornin’),” originally released (as far as I can tell) by Dusty Springfield as the B-side to her 1968 hit “Son Of A Preacher Man.”

Here’s Lipton lip-synching “Just A Little Lovin’ (Early In The Mornin’)” on The Hollywood Palace in 1969, followed by a bit of “Little Green Apples” with Sammy Davis, Jr., and a bit of show-business nonsense. (How about that? Two posts in a row with Sammy Davis, Jr.!)

After digging into Lipton’s brief musical career, I was intrigued to learn that a CD entitled The Complete Ode Recordings will be released near the end of July. As I’ve dug into stuff the past couple of days, I’ve guessed that the various non-album singles were intended to be on a unreleased second album I’ve seen mentioned vaguely (most notably at All Music Guide) that I assume will be included on the CD. Given that I like what I’ve heard of Lipton’s work – and adding in that Blaine and other members of the famed Wrecking Crew as well as reed man Jim Horn are listed in the credits for Lipton’s album at AMG – I may have to invest in the CD when it comes out.

I admit to getting sidetracked into Ms. Lipton’s career. Next week, we’ll do what I originally planned: We’ll take a listen to Donovan’s original version of “Wear Your Love Like Heaven” and then dig into a few other covers. And now that I’ve been reminded of “Just A Little Lovin’ (Early In The Mornin’),” we’ll likely dig into covers of that one, too.


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