1001 Albums 0067-0068

Published June 15, 2014


My continued journey through the albums featured in the book
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.


0067: The Mamas & The Papas: If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears (1966)
An album I've already heard.

The Mamas & The Papas is probably one of my favourite groups. They inhabit several of the ingredients that I really love: they're from the Sixties, they have strong pop tunes, they sing in beautiful harmony. This is their debut album, featuring two of their most famous songs: the lovely 'California Dreamin'' and 'Monday, Monday'. Other highlights include 'Go Where You Wanna Go', their cover of 'Do You Wanna Dance?' (that song again!) and one of my favourite Beatles covers, 'I Call Your Name'. But really, there's nothing on this album that's truly weak or superfluous.

Because of Cass Elliott's big voice, colourful personality and early demise, she has somehow become the most famous and mythologised member of the group. Wonderful as she is, I'd like to strike a blow for the less showy Denny Doherty, who did the leads on some of the band's biggest hits, such as 'Monday, Monday'. And just listen to his tender lead on 'Do You Wanna Dance?' Wow, is all I can say.

The only major problem with If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears is the stereo mix, with most of the vocals in one channel and the instrumentation in the other, which makes for painful headphone listening. I'm also a bit surprised they did the stereo mix like that as late as 1966, especially in America where recording technology was quite a bit ahead of most everywhere else. I haven't heard the the mono version of the album, but it could quite possibly be a better option, at least for some of the tracks. Either way: the music is fantastic.

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0068: Paul Revere & The Raiders: Midnight Ride (1966)

For some reason, prior to listening to this album I'd never heard much more than Paul Revere & The Raiders' hits, most of which are among my favourite Sixties recordings. The only album I actually own is their Christmas LP (followers of my annual Advent Calendar will remember this gem). On the evidence of Midnight Ride, ther fifth album, there is much to discover though. While one or two of the recordings are little too generic garage-y for my tastes, on the first listen I fell in love with 'Little Girl In The 4th Row', which, apart from being a great tune, has the kind of Spector-ish arrangement I really like. And their original version of '(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone' is easily the equal of The Monkees' more famous recording.

The highlight of the album is perhaps the opener, which is also the only hit single here, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil's magnificent 'Kicks'. The lyrics, a warning against over-indulgent drug use, were apparently a message to lyricist Gerry Goffin (of the Goffin/King team), whom they felt was in danger of getting hooked on illegal substances. A little background story for you.

Verdict: A convincing pop album with several highlights.

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The Mamas & The Papas: If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears.

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Paul Revere & The Raiders: Midnight Ride.

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