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The Mamas and the Papas – If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears (1966)

April 17, 2015

[Album 393/1001]220px-TheMamasAndThePapas-IfYouCanBelieveYourEyesAndEars

When I look at this album cover, I think of a friend of mine that teaches English and plays in the Kingston Symphony.  The reasons are two-fold:

1) According to the album cover, the band is The Mama’s and the Papa’s – the wincing caused by this misuse of apostrophes is audible!

2) I picked up this CD at the Kingston Symphony’s annual Vinyl Records Sale.

On Day 1 of the sale, ALL records/CDs were $3 each.  I thought, sounds good, I’ll check it out.

I felt like a bit of a hayseed at this year’s sale, my list of rookie mistakes was lengthy.  A sample:

a) I arrived AT the 4 p.m. start time
b) Much like Alicia Silverstone’s character in Clueless, I did a lap of the warehouse before committing to a location.   By the time I got my bearings, thousands of albums had been pulled from the shelves.  While I was pleased that a $9 investment yielded this, Blues Breakers, and Vivid, better planning could have resulted in a more bountiful crop.

Next year, I’ll line up with the 100+ other collectors in advance.  Providing the layout doesn’t change, I’ve got a visual map of where to find the different genres/mediums.

I’ll also bring a milk crate (the business card of a grizzled veteran collector), commit the remaining 1001 list to memory, and the second the doors open, frantically pull records/tapes/CDs from the shelves, only pausing to inspect them after the first 15 minute flurry.  It’s almost too easy!


Two quotes summarize my feelings here:

1) “Yeah I’d fight for you.”
– Bryan Adams, Everything I Do

Let’s not get carried away and say “yeah I’d lie/walk the wire/die for” this record.  But would I battle my fellow record show patrons again for a shot at this on vinyl?  As BA would hoarsely sing, Yeah.

2) “(this album and Rubber Soul) both had an unusual feeling of being on the creative cusp white being instantly familiar.”
– The liner notes of If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears (IYCBYEAE)

Now if you can believe your auditory/visual senses when I say this, I think this album is actually stronger than Rubber Soul.

On IYCBYEAE, lots of highlights could be, well, highlighted but I don’t want to obfuscate the main takeaway message (any more so than by using such lengthy acronyms and $5 words like obfuscate).

Which is to say, IYCBYEAE sounded great in ’66 & will continue to sound great, long after it celebrates anniversary #50 next year.

From → 1960s

  1. I’ve never taken a milk crate but I’ve seen plenty who do! I choose the backpack as my bag of method.

  2. Phillip Helbig permalink

    Note that the cover was censored in some areas!

  3. Knee and shoulder pads are an option. Oh, and a helmet is worth considering. (Even with Michelle Phillips draped across a bathtub – are there others in the photo? – a choice of Ms & Ps over Rubber Soul leaves me a little concerned for your cranial well being. Not being snarky, just brotherly concern.)

    • Not to worry Bruce – I should note that for whatever reason, Rubber Soul’s never really spoken to me.
      I should also note while I enjoyed IYCBYEAE, it’s not exactly in the same echelon as Rubber Soul’s follow-up!

      • This dialogue raises several interesting questions, one of which is, ‘Is chronology important?’.
        That is, what weight or importance should be given to the order in which albums were released.

        Naturally, the test is whether the music stands the test of time, but there are two types of listener either side of this particular fence.

        One side says, ‘Who cares?’ That’s the ‘I like it/don’t like it’ approach and is perfectly valid. But the other side says, ‘Hang on, if you divorce the music from its time and sequence you are losing vital context’.

        As you’d guess, I’m in the latter camp; fascinated by how albums fit in with what was happening at the time, influences both in-coming and out-going. And that of course is why The Beatles were so significant. Firstly, by 1965 they only wrote their own songs (compared with the Ms & Ps album where five of the 12 are covers – including a Lennon-McCartney!) and secondly they were responsible for many of the innovations and expansions of pop music that flowed out to other artists. The pace of change – largely driven by the Liverpool lads and a precious few others – was so incredibly fast that the period from 1964 to 1969 is one that (uniquely) rewards detailed scrutiny in terms of weeks and months rather than years. If you could be bothered of course. Sensible people just spin Revolver, relax and float downstream…

      • Bruce – I was able to ‘like’ your comment earlier and then my daughter woke up from her nap – she was no longer only sleeping, as it were!

        I can’t say I disagree with any of the above.

        Curiously, I’d say I’m in camp #2 (believe context is important) yet admittedly I’m approaching these albums primarily through a camp #1 lens.

        There are times when I thought it would have been neat to approach the list chronologically, to get a picture of the world evolving over a span of 50 years. However, thinking it would take me 10 years to get through the list, I didn’t want the project to feel like work, and therefore gave myself the flexibility of jumping around the decades.

        As a space-time continuum enthusiast, I’m of course fascinated with the possible consequences of a disruption in the passage of time. Without Rubber Soul, do the Ms & Ps record this? Without this, what does Pet Sounds become?… As you said, in the mid/late-60s, weeks/months mattered.

        So with many of these records, the surface I’ve scratched has been satisfying, but I think I’ll get even more out of them as the years go on.

      • I’m glad I managed to communicate my drift successfully and that it was a bit meaningful for you Geoff. I like your idea of moving between approaches, and I think it is both valid and useful. If we follow butterflies in the forrest there is the possibility of discovery and delight whereas a clear path-journey might become tedious. Certainly I have found that I have really enjoyed revisiting a genre/period/instrument – often guided by one of the plethora of excellent music books available these days – and deepened my appreciation (understanding + enjoyment) as a result.

        It’s nice to send a friendly wave to other fellow-travellers.

      • I quite like that equation (appreciation = understanding + enjoyment).
        I see the 1001 like a ‘hop-on hop-off bus tour’ – get a sample of everything, figure out what stops you want to come back and visit for longer periods.

  4. sinewavelife permalink

    I loved this album! Thanks for bringing back good memories. I enjoyed your post on John Mayall as well. Great posts.

  5. I love that LP cover!

  6. Great album and great cover (even more so because of the blatant misuse of the apostrophes). I’m in agreement about this being stronger than Rubber Soul.

  7. Hackskeptic permalink

    Whoa….stronger than “Rubber Soul”? High praise indeed Geoff. I love this album. Can’t wait to review it for the 1001 project. I’m struggling with Waylon Jennings at the moment.

    • And I’m not just being intentionally contrarian, I thought this was solid!
      Haven’t got to Jennings yet – hopefully it’s one of those lightbulb records where after a few spins, there’s an aha moment and you all of a sudden love it!

      • Hackskeptic permalink

        I bet you 10 bob it won’t happen

  8. I’d like to stand up for the Mamas & the Papas (but not their punctuation). As a harmony nut, I appreciate their excellent, complex vocal arrangements. Some of their best were written by others, but made their own.

  9. Started to write “made they’re own” just to rile you up.

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  1. 1966 | 1001albumsin10years

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