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Category Archives: mamas and papas

Was it really just little more than a week? Felt longer.

Ok, so the treatment of The Mamas & the Papas masters and their catalogue over the past decades seems pretty abysmal. Until Sundazed I don’t think anybody was doing anything decent with this material in the CD era and beyond aside from lame comps.

Steve Hoffman tried his hand at remastering some of the singles for a compilation, and while he got it extraordinarily clean sounding, he turned once mono radio singles into hard-panned severe stereo mixes. That move perplexed me and renders the songs pretty unlistenable to boot. I dunno, it’s out there if you want to compare. All the other CDs I’ve heard have similarly abysmal stereo mixes. Yes, I love their voices and harmonies, but I don’t really appreciate the great stomping beat of “Creeque Alley” relegated to somewhere far off in my right ear.

Anyway, by the time Sundazed got their hands on the masters, they were deteriorated to the point where… well, you can hear it for yourself on their reissues. I don’t knock them for it, they did the best they could. There’s some Byrds stuff they put out that suffered a similar fate.

SO, the conclusion I have come to is that there is really no satisfying reissue of The Mamas & the Papas’ albums. You’re stuck with original Dunhill vinyls from the 1960s to hear how this stuff was meant to sound. So that’s what the three M&P albums here are ripped from. I’m totally up for suggestions of what OOP releases sound better… the MCA discs from the 1980s?

Oh, for the record my favorite single LP by them is DELIVER, if you wanted a starting point.

I’m throwing in the excellent Cass Elliot comp for good measure, because I’m obsessed with her lately. “California Earthquake” is one of the best songs ever written. Her cover of The Beach Boys’ “Disney Girls” is pretty stellar also.

Hey, you know that band Tool? How they’re so “edgy” for writing that post-apocalyptic misanthropic nightmare song about how Los Angeles will be swallowed by the ocean? Yeah, Mama Cass wrote that shit in 1968 and shoved it down Middle America’s throat on The Fucking Smothers Brothers. Take your ball and go home, Tool.

The Mamas & the Papas-IF YOU CAN BELIEVE YOUR EYES AND EARS (1966)
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The Mamas & the Papas-THE MAMAS & THE PAPAS (1966)
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The Mamas & the Papas-DELIVER (1967)
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Cass Elliot-DREAM A LITTLE DREAM (1997 compilation)
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I just realized the LA BURNOUT mix was missing two tracks, but they were both John Phillips tracks, and they were both from this album! -Ian!

The first solo album of the architect of the Mamas & Papas sound, John Phillips, was certainly one of the more heralded events at the dawn of the 1970s. Phillips, the primary songwriter and vocal arranger for all of the group’s great records, however, was not exactly a great lead vocalist. Phillips knew this, and, according to his book, Papa John, he purposely buried his voice in the mix. This proved to be a bit of tragedy, because underneath it all, this is an excellent album. Songs such as “April Anne,” “Malibu People,” and “Holland Tunnel” bear out what a fine songwriter he really was, and indeed, these are some of the finest songs of his career. The performances on this record are spectacular. Backed by an all-star group of musicians (most of Elvis Presley’s band, including James Burton, as well as the Wrecking Crew, among others), the record’s decidedly country feel is crafted to the extreme. Mamas co-founder Denny Doherty has always felt that had the Mamas & Papas recorded this album, it would have been one of their finest. There’s no doubt.

-Matthew Greenwald,

John Phillips-JOHN, THE WOLFKING OF L.A. (1970)