The Mamas and The Papas Complete Anthology
In the two and one-half years that the Mamas and the Papas were together, a catalogue of music was created like none before or since. We were brought together by unusual circumstances and bound forever by the glue of our love relationships, our meteoric success, huge fortunes, and above all, the music.
Non one sounded like us. No one was lucky enough to have this magic combination - a great songwriter with a genius for vocal arrangements; a contralto with a voice from heaven who could hold an audience in the palm of her hand or make them roll in the aisles with laughter; a tenor with the silky voice of a Sinatra or a Tony Bennett, who exuded sex, charm, and wit; and a tall, blue-eyed, long-haired blonde who exemplified the "California Girl" with street smarts and a rock and roll spirit.
By a fluke of fate, this ragtag group - straight in from a four-month stay on the psychedelic beaches of the Virgin Islands - was introduced to Lou Adler, the coolest, hippest and most savvy record producer in Hollywood, making hits like "Wonderful World" with Sam Cooke, "Memphis" with Johnny Rivers and "Eve of Destruction" with Barry McGuire. We sang, he listened, he thought and his thought became the title of our first album, "If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears".
It was apparent from the start that John and Lou were a match made in heaven. Up until this time we had only sung with John playing guitar. Lou had his regular guys - Hal Blaine on drums, Larry Knechtel on keyboards and Joe Osborn on bass. They were tight, innovative, creative and crazy. They would hear a song sung and they were off with one great idea after the next. In the booth was "Bones" Howe, a tall, skinny engineer who played the board like a musical instrument, an indispensible, magic ingredient in Lou Adler's Midas-touched assent. Bones' blending of four voices, instrumentals, sweetening tracks, and overdubs (all this on a four-track machine) was nothing less than sensational. When he was done - voila, the timeless sound.
Larry muted his harpsichord for "Got a Feelin'". He obviously loved the honky-tonk piano because it's on "I Call Your Name", "Creeque Alley", "Words of Love" and others. He played electric piano, grand piano, organ - you name it. And Hal Blaine and Joe Osborn were right there wailing away on some of the most solid tracks in history.
Lou brought in the pretty and awesomely talented Bobbi Hall on bongos and congas, Glen Campbell on lead acoustic guitar, electric and 12-string. Marty Paich and Jimmie Haskell arranged strings. It was getting fun now. How about banjo, xylophone, vibes, triangles, harmonicas, a harp, sax, and then a whole horn section? An organ, a Philharmonic string orchestra, coconuts, tuba, an oboe, the legendary Bud Shank playing flute on "California Dreamin'" and much, much more flute by Jim Horn.
We did a jazzy song, John's "Once Was a Time I Though" with one acoustic guitar. I sang acapella on an ancient song I found on a Shirley Temple album. John whistled on "Dream A Little Dream". We left in a funny tiff in "Midnight Voyage" and dialogue that was pure us. Cass and Denny actually sing Ebonics at the end of "Dancing in the Street", a tribute to Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. And on one was offended. Denny made a false re-entry out of the instrumental "I Saw Her Again", it stayed. Hell, we brought in a Mariachi band on a little song called "Boys and Girls Together" trying to get that Tijuana Brass sound. Cass could belt out "Words of Love", "The In-Crowd" or "Sing for Your Supper", then turn around and charm your knickers off with the sweetest, most heart-warming rendition of "Dream A Little Dream" or sweep you into her fanciful love affair with John Lennon with "I Call Your Name".
The unforgettable and utterly unique talent that Denny brought was starkly evident in performances of "Monday, Monday"; "California Dreamin'"; "Do You Want to Dance" and many more, where the backgrounds were at first the lead giving way to the vocal and back again.
John finally did a lead vocal on "Meditation Mama", a song he wrote with Lou. They are some of the most beautifully garbled lyrics you will ever hear. The backgrounds are reminiscent of the passion of a Latin mass. John and Lou assigned me leads on "Dedicated to the One I Love", "The Right Somebody to Love" and "Got a Feelin'".
Here's the skinny, the real lowdown on what was going on with the four of us - not as pop stars but, more importantly, as people. John and I were married. Cass was in love with Denny. Denny and I had a love affair that understandably rankled John no end, devastated Cass and ruptured for a time the best friendships we had all enjoyed together. It almost stopped the music dead in its tracks (no pun intended). Thankfully, the Mamas and the Papas' music eclipsed all of it.
Despite the glorious music, I had always thought of the group as a bubble that had to burst sometime, and it did in early 1968. Frankly, we had run out of material and had had enough of all the togetherness. What was essential for: 1. the drama; 2, songs written about the drama; and 3, the willingness to stay when we all wanted to move on, was all gone. Cass and I both had babies, John wanted to produce and Denny wanted to go back to the islands or something. It was over.
I'm sorry ABC Records made us record the 1971 "People Like Us" album. It sounds like what it is, four very bored people with no material, no Lou, no Bones, trying not to be sued over contractual obligations. And as wonderful as the Monterey Pop Festival was, it would have been nice to have had at least one rehearsal because ordinarily we were really good 'live' but we hadn't sung together in months. When you hear it now, at least you can be dazzled by how charismatic Cass ingeniously handled an audience. There's no mistaking who the star of that show was.
We had as much fun recording the songs as it sounds. I believe, in the end, we all were stronger for it. In hindsight, I think the Mamas & the Papas accomplished in a little time, a permanent, legendary niche in the American culture. So forgive me if I remain an incurable optimist believing that even the most improbable, unlikely scheme might just work out. After all, I've seen it done up close. I can't shop in a market, drive across town or board an elevator anywhere in the world without the chances being pretty great that I'll hear the four of us doing what we did so well, together. We could sing. We could really sing!
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
13. No Salt on Her Tail
14. Trip, Stumble & Fall
15. Dancing Bear
16. Words of Love
17. My Heart Stood Still
18. Dancing in the Street
19. I Saw Her Again
20. Strange Young Girls
21. I Can't Wait
22. Even If I Could
23. That Kind of Girl
24. Once Was a Time I Thought
25. Glad To Be Unhappy
26. Creeque Alley Single Version
27. Words of Love Single Version
1. Dedicated to the One I Love
2. My Girl
3. Creeque Alley
4. Sing For Your Supper
5. Twist and Shout
6. Free Advice
7. Look Through My Window
8. Boys and Girls Together
9. String Man
11. Did You Ever Want to Cry
12. John's Music Box
13. The Right Somebody to Love
14. Safe in My Garden
15. Meditation Mama (Transcendental Woman Travels)
16. For the Love of Ivy
17. Dream a Little Dream of Me
19. Gemini Childe
20. Nothing's Too Good For My Little Girl
21. Too Late
22. Twelve Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming to the Canyon)
24. Midnight Voyage
25. Once Was a Time I Thought Rehearsal & Studio Chatter
26. Studio Chatter
27. I Can't Wait Studio Chatter & Rehearsal
1. People Like Us
2. Pacific Coast Highway
3. Snowqueen of Texas
4. Shooting Star
5. Step Out
6. Lady Genevieve
7. No Dough
8. European BLueboy
10. I Wanna Be a Star
12. Blueberries for Breakfast
13. Straight Shooter Live at Monterey
14. Got a Feelin' Live at Monterey
15. California Dreamin' Live at Monterey
16. Spanish Harlem Live at Monterey
17. Somebody Groovy Live at Monterey
18. I Call Your Name LIve at Monterey
19. Monday, Monday Live at Monterey
20. Dancing in the Street Live at Monterey
21. John Phillips Dialogue
22. Cass Elliot Dialogue
1. Nowhere Man The Mamas & The Papas
2. Here in My Arms The Mamas & The Papas
3. It's Getting Better Cass Elliot
4. Make Your Own Kind of Music Cass Elliot
5. New World Coming Cass Elliot
6. The Costume Ball Cass Elliot
7. Something to Make You Happy Cass Elliot & Dave Mason
8. Mississippi John Phillips
9. Revolution on Vacation John Phillips
10. Cup of Tea John Phillips
11. Gathering the Words Denny Doherty
12. To Claudia On Thursday Denny Doherty & Jimmy Haskell
13. Indian Girl Denny Doherty
14. Baby Catch the Moon Denny Doherty
15. Aloha Louie Michelle Phillips
16. There She Goes Michelle Phillips
17. No Love Today Michelle Phillips
18. Aching Kind Michelle Phillips
19. This Precious Time Barry McGuire with The Mamas & The Papas
20. Do You Believe in Magic Barry McGuire with The Mamas & The Papas
21. Yesterday Barry McGuire with The Mamas & The Papas
22. You've Got to Hide Your Love Away Barry McGuire with The Mamas & The Papas
23. Let Me Be Barry McGuire with The Mamas & The Papas
24. Hang On Sloopy Barry McGuire with The Mamas & The Papas
25. California Dreamin' Barry McGuire with The Mamas & The Papas
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