IF YOU CAN BELIEVE YOUR EYES AND EARS
To say that The Mamas and The Papas defy vocal and visual description has to be the biggest understatement of the year -- and, for that matter, of next year as well.
There are four of them, and they come in all shapes and sizes. They live in a nutty world of simi-existentialism, of cuckoo-clocks and antique lampshades, of beat-up old cars and Indian boots, of longish hair and longer hair of folk-singers and not-so-folk singers, of Lou Adlers and Lovin' Spoonfuls, and primarily of Mamas and Papas, which in point of fact they are not.
John is the acknowledged leader; a tall thin, gaunt person who takes everything very seriously and would probably perpetrate a rather bewildered executive image were it not for his mildly dignified, but perennially poverty-stricken appearance. He has played and sung his way around Greenwich Village and other significant musical areas with and without his three partners. He has an unusually creative mind which has been evident on the many songs he has written, several of which are featured in this album.
His fellow Papa is Denny, in insolently handsome young Canadian, who is nonconformist in that he originally entered our offices clean-shaven, but wearing black leather, and has since taken to wearing expensive sports clothes, only with a beard. His philosophies conform to the standard folk dream in many ways, the main difference being that they are neither idealistic nor illogical. If we were talking in terms of sex-symbols and full-page color pin-ups and potential Marlon Brandos and John Lennons, we would select Denny to play the role. But we're not. So we won't.
It would be hard to say which of the two Mamas is the more striking. Michelle is certainly the more mysterious of the two. She is a lissom, blonde, vision-with-a-voice who doesn't say very much, but just looks at you waif-like, sylph-like or what-ever-adjective-you-care-to-dream-up-like. She was once a model, and in her own way is still a model. And you haven't seen anything until you have seen her smile.
To end up with, there is Cass. You couldn't really end up with anything else. She collects antiques, talks freely about art and Bob Dylan, loves Whispering Paul MacDowell, has travelled the land in satirical revues, wears cute little gold-rimmed glasses and, like the others, lives for today, buddy, 'cos tomorrow may never happen. She's large and lovely, benevolent and broadminded, cynical and maybe sinful...who knows? but her.
The Mamas and The Papas are all decendents of Traditional Authentic Folk Groups. One was in The Big Three, which for a long time ruled the folk scene in New York. Another was in the Halifax Three. A third-or perhaps a third and a fourth- were in a very big group called The Journeymen.
They have traveled all over the States in their various capacities, and they recently returned from a trip to the Virgin Islands. Here they spent their time as one should spend one's time if one is a Mama or a Papa. Cass became a waitress for a whort while, and finally joined the others who had set up camp in the foliage, and were passing the time lounging around on the beach enlightening the natives to American pop culture. When the governor of the islands decided that they were not contributing too much to the everyday problems of running an island, he suggested that they move on to conquer fresh pastures -- and this they are doing.
Their first record, CALIFORNIA DREAMIN', waxed prosperous on the bullet-riddled charts. Their highly unusual contrapuntal harmonies -- which is flannel for different vocal lines sung on top of each other -- plus John's unique vocal arrangements, plus the unusual approach of the whole bunch, provided a healthy filling for a gap on the musical landscape which had remained void even in these enlightened days.
Some of the songs in this album are new; others will be familiar. All are good. They become great when performed by The Mamas and The Papas.
Denny's poignant lead vocal on MONDAY, MONDAY transforms a clever song of many inticacies into a work of beauty which becomes disarmingly simple. The bawdy, vaudeville analysis which Cass inflicts upon I CALL YOUR NAME projects the Beatle song in an entirely new light. John and Paul, one feels, would approve. To describe the gentle harmony obtained by Michelle and Cass on the extraordinary GOT A FEELING as "soft and silky" would not only be inadequate, but also slightly inaccurate. "Feathery" would be a better word. And on the swinging, swaying YOU, BABY you have that old "Good Time Music" feel as it was born to be felt.
In short, The Mamas and The Papas emerge as one of the more stimulating groups of the era. They experiment; they create; they construct; and most of all they communicate.
A liner can only stand so many superlatives and hyperbole without becoming trite. This one has already utilized more than its fair share. It only remains for you to extract the record carefully from the sleeve, play it, and then see if you believe what you have just read. And if you can believe your eyes and your ears, then you're not only going to believe this album -- you're going to be saving your nickels for the next one.
(John Phillips) Trousdale Music BMI Time 3:03
(John Phillips) Trousdale Music BMI Time 2:55
GOT A FEELIN'
(Doherty & Phillips) Trousdale Music BMI Time 2:44
I CALL YOUR NAME
(Lennon & McCartney) Macien Music BMI Time 2:32
DO YOU WANNA DANCE
(B. Freeman) Clockus Music BMI Time 2:58
GO WHERE YOU WANNA GO
(John Phillips) Trousdale Music BMI Time 2:32
(J. & M. Phillips) Trousdale Music BMI Time 2:32
(J. Leiber/P. Spector) Progressive Music BMI Time 3:22
(John Phillips) Trousdale Music BMI Time 3:06
(J. & M. Phillips) Trousdale Music BMI Time 2:21
(P.F. Sloan & Steve Barri) Trousdale Music BMI Time 2:15
(Billy Page) American Music BMI Time 3:10
Producer: LOU ADLER
Engineer: Bones Howe
Photos: Guy Webster
Musicians include: P.F. Sloan, Hal Blaine, Larry Knechtel, Joe Osborn
Electric violin: Peter Pilafian
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