Saturday, December 1, 2012

#133: The Mamas and the Papas - If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears (1966)

The Mamas and the Papas only recorded from 1965 to 1968 (with a reunion in '71), but during this span they released six albums spawning 11 Top 40 singles. We've all heard "California Dreaming" and many of us have heard, "Monday, Monday" despite our age, but it's the quality of the rest of the album that I'm really excited to hear. I was surprised to read that the album cover had to be adjusted because the original featured a toilet next to the tub and it was considered "indecent". Oh, how the times have changed.

Straight Shooter
What a cool track, it's got this great groove to it and the vocals are locked in. When I think of the Mamas and the Papas this is not what I think of. However, if the rest of the album is similar to this - I'm in for an absolute treat. The bass line is very McCartney-ish, it rocks and flows so incredibly well. I really, really dig the blend of the vocals, they have some moments in the song that's absolutely sweet.

Somebody Groovy
I'm surprised at just how good the Mamas and the Papas are musically. I've always pictured them as a vocal group, but the musicians they have behind them are top notch. John Phillips is the the songwriter for the group and he does an absolutely wonderful job. The record is vibrant and open and the writing is very pop but it also contains a lot of depth.

The 'In' Crowd
A very bluesy type cover ends the album. I admire not only Phillips' song writing but also his ability to pass his ego to the side to do a few cover tracks. He could have just as easily used the original as a ghost song but instead they take a great song and put their own spin on it.

All in all, this album is unique in comparison with it's predecessors. I've got to say that I'm very pleasantly surprised with this record. I didn't expect to hear anything quite this good, now it makes sense why people are still familiar with the Mamas and the Papas name all these years later. While I very much enjoyed each song, they all had their moments that were just incredible: a great bass line, an amazing harmony, or a big hook. Their d├ębut album is scary good and I look forward to the next record.

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