Wednesday, February 6, 2013

127 If you can believe your eyes and ears

Album: If you can believe your eyes and ears
Artist: The Mamas and the Papas
Genre: Pop
Year: 1966

  1. Monday, Monday
  2. Straight Shooter
  3. Got a Feelin'
  4. I Call Your Name
  5. Do You Wanna Dance?
  6. Go Where You Wanna Go
  7. California Dreamin'
  8. Spanish Harlem
  9. Somebody Groovy
  10. Hey Girl
  11. You Baby
  12. The 'In' Crowd

This is the best single album of music the Mamas and The Papas released in their career. Without a shadow of a doubt it's their finest disc of new material. But in the digital age it wouldn't even make the top twenty greatest Mamas and Papas CD's.

The career of Cass Elliot and her friends was short lived. They released five albums with 12 tracks on each so their entire output was limited to sixty songs, many of which were covers. Most of the dozens of greatest hits compilations released since they broke up feature 20 or more hand picked tracks which means they can choose the best 33% of their songs and leave the less inspiring ones (the entire final album for example).  There have been more than twenty compilations spanning their career released since CD's were invented and all of them have the best songs from this release along with a few highlights from the albums that followed.

Obviously the highlight of any album that features the writing of John Phillips is California Dreamin which is the best track on not just a Mamas and Papas compilation but almost any album it features on. Many a crap "Hits of the 60's" or "Woodstock generation" or "Songs We Could Afford The Rights To and Could Thematically Link In Some Tenuous Way" compilation has been vastly improved by the addition of this perfect little nugget of pure pop gold somewhere in the middle. It's just blissful and you love it. Monday Monday and Go Where you Wanna Go are both a long way behind it in terms of quality but they're still both fantastic songs. They would have been great if Phillips had written them for a standard pop band but recorded by The Mamas and The Papas, who had the perfect bland blend of male and female vocals that no other band could approach, they're just sunshine. 

The other originals aren't up to the standard of the big three but the covers are well chosen and all work well enough to hold the listener's attention and not have them nostalgic for California Dreamin again. I Call Your Name is an obscure Beatles cover which The Parents (I'm bored with typing their full name) improve and Do You Wanna Dance was a minor hit for the Beach Boys but works better given the Ma's and Pa's treatment. 

Everyone needs a copy of California Dreamin in their music collection somewhere but why get it in its original form when you can buy a compilation that will also feature the highlights from this release along with Crequee Alley (what? You've never heard Crequee Alley? Go and listen now) and other gems hidden on the M's and P's lesser albums. Grab one of their compilations, any one will do they're basically all the same except for the cover photo, and enjoy the essential tracks from a short lived but great band.

Influenced by: The Beatles
Influenced: Bands who could harmonize

Highlight: California Dreamin
Lowlight: The In Crowd

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I got this from a local library. And I must confess that it was the well documented incestuous relationship that notorious drug addict Papa John Philips had with one of his daughters what determined my decision to listen to their music in spite of two nice but almost indifferent songs lingering somewhere in the Cosmos: "Monday, Monday" and "California Dreamin'."

-What? I knew nothing of said relationship and I've looked it up. The jury is still out apparently but is this reviewer saying they listened to this album because of the allegation and not despite it?

So can you believe your eyes and ears or not? Let me know below.


  1. The "perfect bland"?

  2. Ooops! Thanks for noticing that. It's good to see that people are paying attention. I'm correcting it now.