Top positive review
Reviewed in the United States on June 27, 2020
Along with the The Buffalo Springfield and Simon & Garfunkel, The Mamas & The Papas were the most influential folk/rock bands to record in the late 60s. This collection of greatest hits represents (mostly) their best work and Erick Labson's remasters are far superior to the original mixes, as well as another MCA version by Steve Hoffman. The LA studio instrumentalists also did a great job, and the keyboardist Larry Knechtel deserves special mention for his great intros and fills that always completed the arrangements. (He also knew how to lay back in the mix). John Philips wrote most of their material (occasionally aided by bandmates) and though most of the songs are in a medium tempo, there's lots of variety in their melody and texture. The songs are just gorgeous, and timeless, and have influenced many well-known (and lesser-known) songwriters. Pure magic.
My only quibble with this collection is the choice of material. John's songs are stunning and unforgettable, but 8 of the 20 tracks are covers, and 5 of those covers are far weaker than the original versions. (To be fair, one is a Rodgers & Hart standard, but its arrangement is still cliched). Fortunately, their versions of "I Call Your Name" (Lennon-McCartney), "Dancing In The Street" (almost as good as the original version by Martha and The Vandellas two years earlier), and "Dedicated To The One I Love" are all marvelous. I'm not sure why Michelle Philips and Lou Adler chose to include John's nondescript "No Salt On Her Tail" while omitting "Got A Feelin'", a one-of-a-kind ballad.
Because this collection is padded with weaker material, I decided to put myself in the producer's chair for a moment and create my own version of the CD. Personally, I didn't feel that their two biggest hits — "California Dreamin'" and "Monday Monday" — were their finest songs, so I came up with a very different sequence that also incorporates two songs from the other MCA recording that were worth including. Here is it:
1. 12.30 — Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon
2. Go Where You Wanna Go
3. Look Through My Window
4. I Saw Her Again
5. Monday, Monday
6. Dedicated To The One I Love
7. I Call Your Name
8. Creeque Alley
9. Got A Feelin' (other MCA CD)
10. Dancing In The Street
11. California Dreamin'
12. Dancing Bear
13. Safe In My Garden
14. Dream A Little Dream Of Me
15. Words Of Love
16. Midnight Voyage (other MCA CD)
All in all, this is the best collection of The Mamas & The Papas studio work. Get it !