The Mamas & The Papas – If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears (1966)

If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears is the debut album by the Mamas and the Papas (written as The Mama’s and the Papa’s ), released in 1966. In 2003, it was ranked number 127 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, with its rank rising to number 112 in the 2012 revision.

The stereo mix of the album is included in its entirety on All the Leaves are Brown (2001), a two-CD retrospective compilation of the band’s first four albums and various singles, as well as on The Mamas & the Papas Complete Anthology (2004), a four-CD box-set collection released in the UK.

The mono mix of the album was remastered and reissued on vinyl by Sundazed Records in 2010, and on CD the following year.

Track Listing:

Side one

“Monday, Monday” (John Phillips) – 3:28
“Straight Shooter” (J. Phillips) – 2:58
“Got a Feelin'” (J. Phillips, Denny Doherty) – 2:53
“I Call Your Name” (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) – 2:38
“Do You Wanna Dance” (Bobby Freeman) – 3:00
“Go Where You Wanna Go” (J. Phillips) – 2:29

Side two

“California Dreamin'” (J. Phillips, Michelle Phillips) – 2:42
“Spanish Harlem” (Jerry Leiber, Phil Spector) – 3:22
“Somebody Groovy” (J. Phillips) – 3:16
“Hey Girl” (J. Phillips, M. Phillips) – 2:30
“You Baby” (Steve Barri, P. F. Sloan) – 2:22
“The ‘In’ Crowd” (Billy Page) – 3:12

Review: In the spring of 1966, If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears represented a genuinely new sound, as fresh to listeners as the songs on Meet the Beatles had seemed two years earlier. Released just as “California Dreaming” was ascending the charts by leaps and bounds, it was the product of months of rehearsal in the Virgin Islands and John Phillips’ discovery of what one could do to build a polished recorded sound in the studio — it embraced folk-rock, pop/rock, pop, and soul, and also reflected the kind of care that acts like the Beatles were putting into their records at the time. “Monday, Monday” and “California Dreamin'” are familiar enough to anyone who’s ever listened to the radio, and “Go Where You Wanna Go” isn’t far behind, in this version or the very similar rendition by the Fifth Dimension. But the rest is mighty compelling even to casual listeners, including the ethereal “Got a Feelin’,” the rocking “Straight Shooter” and “Somebody Groovy,” the jaunty, torch song-style version of “I Call Your Name,” and the prettiest versions of “Do You Wanna Dance” and “Spanish Harlem” that anyone ever recorded. If the material here has a certain glow that the Mamas & the Papas’ subsequent LPs lacked, that may be due in part to the extensive rehearsal and the exhilaration of their first experience in the studio, but also a result of the fact that it was recorded before the members’ personal conflicts began interfering with their ability to work together. The work was all spontaneous and unforced here, as opposed to the emotional complications that had to be overcome before their next sessions.

Schill Score: 8/10

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