Toomorrow (1970) (part 7 of 10)

Benny gets them down to business, since they have to be back by lunchtime to meet Amy the Ballet Nazi. Observer brings them out to the greenhouse/sunporch off the den, which is all tiled and glassed in and filled with plants and sculptures (including an actual petrified nonsurvivor from Pompeii). This frankly looks like a terrible place to work acoustically, but they get down to business, starting up rehearsing “Happiness Valley” while Observer records their emanations on his big, fancy equipment and… stop smirking!… and somehow exchanges satisfied smiles with Uptight Superior up on the ship, and… stop it, I said!

I won’t inflict “Happiness Valley” on you, because, as you can probably guess from the title, it’s even more inane than the songs we’ve encountered so far. Plus, it’s performed in a very relaxed way that sounds like they already found Happiness Valley, if you follow me. What’s more interesting about this number is that we keep flashing to the band members’ fantasies of happiness—not melting into them as one normally would with a daydream, but switching brutally over to them with jump cuts and tlliiiingg! sound effects. Benny’s fantasy, for example, is laying on a beach with three girls rubbing tanning oil into his torso. Or maybe he’s just remembering last weekend.

Karl pictures himself in a hammock being rocked by some woman who’s not Zombie Sylvana. Hilariously, Olivia’s fantasy involves her aboard a horse with a big floppy cowboy hat. Not. Going. There. Vic’s fantasy pictures him ensconced in a leather chair, wearing a tuxedo and smoking a cigar, pouring champagne for himself as something comes on TV that’s “Starring Vic Cooper”. Hmmm, no Amy the Ballet Nazi in sight. By the way, all of these fantasies were clearly filmed with about five minutes’ prep in front of stark grey backdrops, as cheaply and quickly as possible. They look like freebies from an Olon Mills going out of business sale. Did I say they look really cheap? They look really cheap.

Caption contributed by Mark

Olivia dreams of one day meeting Trace Cyrus.

After the song is done, our four leads make a good show of acting like this is a real rehearsal, talking about changes they need to make in chord progressions, blah blah blah, but Observer comes in and reminds them they have to be back by one. The “C” plot strikes again. They gather their stuff and rush out onto the front lawn, only to run smack into the twinkly transporter beam, which sucks them straight up into the sky. Observer follows a moment later with the tape from their rehearsal. Yep, the Observer’s race is going to be saved by a four-track tape of “Happiness Valley” by Toomorrow. Please, let’s do everything we can to ensure that Ear E.D. never happens to us.

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Mark "Scooter" Wilson

Mark is a history guy, a graphics guy, a guy for whom wryly cynical assessments of popular culture are the scallion cream cheese on the toasted everything bagel of life. He spends his time teaching modern history at Brooklyn College, pondering the ancient Romans at the CUNY Graduate Center, and conjuring maps and illustrations for ungrateful bankers at various Manhattan monoliths. Readers are welcome to guess at reasons why he's nicknamed Scooter, with the proviso that all such submissions are guaranteed to be rather more interesting than the truth. Mark lives in the Midwood section of Brooklyn with a happy-go-lucky, flop-eared dog named Chiyo who is probably, at this very moment, waiting patiently for her walkies.

Multi-Part Article: Toomorrow (1970)

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