Tuesday, January 11, 2005

THE MAMAS & THE PAPAS live at the Savoy, SOLD OUT 3/12/82

THE MAMAS & THE PAPAS live at the Savoy, SOLD OUT 3/12/82

When John McDermott, in meticulous fashion, lovingly studies the Jimi Hendrix masters the world now enoys, he iscareful not to promote it as "the holy grail" of Jimi - great lostartifacts - and for the legion of Hendrix fans as well as for rockhistory, it is good that the world's greatest electric guitarist's musicis objectively released as a whole. Not only did Hendrix share the stage with The Mamas & The Papas when the Monterey International Pop Festival was held June 16-18, 1967, the platform John Phillips and Lou Adler built was pivotal to the careers of, not only Jimi Hendrix, but Janis Joplin, the reconstituted Animals, as well as that entire "west coast sound" which would evolveand give birth to the soft rock of the 1970's. John Phillips' arrangingand songwriting genius has never been properly recognized as theinspiring force that it was. Few could open up 1966 by fighting thewinter chill with an indellible classic like "California Dreaming" - asong so potent that predecessors Peter, Paul and Mary would imitate thesound in a tribute called "I Dig Rock & Roll Music", a song whose Top 10showing the first week of September 1967 beat out the eighth of the Mamas & The Papas 10 hits, the Top 20"Twelve Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon)." The highlyinfluential group has not had the luxury of each and every live andstudio tape traded the way Lou Reed, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and TheStones get studied, sought after, talked about, the buzz and chatter on the web and in fanzines endless. And maybe because these pop maestros have not been overexposed by the obsessive pop fans this phenomenal 1982 live concert will have a chance to generate attention 37 years after "California Dreaming" became a reality. If you have any doubt that a soundboard tape by the second phase of a seminal rock band is one of the most exciting finds of the past four decades, just A/B the 1971 release of the aforementioned The Mamas & The Papas: Historic PerformancesRecorded at the Monterey International Pop Festival with this excitingdisc. It will blow you away. Gary Burke from the Joe Jackson Group is on drums with Mick Taylor's guitarist Shayne Fontaine backing up TV star and bandleader's daughter MacKenzie Phillips, Elaine "Spanky" McFarlane, John Phillips and Denny Doherty.

SOLD OUT: The Mamas And The Papas Live At TheSavoy, 1982, brings this harmony-filled group back in convincingfashion, replacing Mama Cass with the only voice who could possiblyfill those shoes, do justice while respecting the past, and take theband into a more modern direction. At Monterey the band included manyof the musicians from the "Deliver" album - future Bread keyboardplayer Larry Knechtel was utilized along with Joe Osborne on bass andDoctor Eric Hord on guitar. Replacing Captain & Tennille drummer HalBlaine (ok, ok, Hal played with everyone, though he was Daryl & Toni'sreliable third member of that duo) was Chicago percussionist "FastEddy". Despite Erick Weinberg's studio mixing of Wally Heider'sremote recording, produced by Lou Adler and John Phillips only "MondayMonday" from the 1967 concert can be considered superior to the SavoyConcert. For the most part Monterey sounds like a bootleg compared tothe two track to cassette soundboard recorded with care and devotionby one of the most important sound engineers in rock history. Stuart "Dinky" Dawson, along with his visionary innovations which made the audio portion of the live concert experience so much better, had the foresight to tape the majority of the concerts he supervised sound for. Play "Straight Shooter" which opens Monterey against the "Straight Shooter" that opens 1982 SOLD OUT and understand rock history. Mark Farner biographer Kris Engelhardt observed on August4, 2003, when these liner notes were being written, how solid the harmonies are here. But it is more than just how Mr. Dawson captured the almost flawless new version of the group - (they misfire on Monday Monday, but what the heck, the rest of the record is so sublime, like Denny Doherty's original missed line on the groups only #1 hit, who cares???) The 5th Dimension's first hit, the Top 20 "Go Where You Wanna Go", written by John Phillips and launching that group in February of 1967, is here, as is a unique version of "Mississippi", the Top 35 solo hit by Phillips from June, 1970. Elaine McFarlane does an impressive job on "I Call Your Name" and "DedicatedTo The One I Love", songs that were showstoppers for Cass Elliot - andwhy we don't hear The Mamas & The Papas doing "Sunday Will Never Be TheSame", "Sunday Morning", "Give A Damn" or "I'd Like To Get To Know You"is a bit of a downer, but it is offset by "Chinaman", "Not Too Cool", "IWish", a song inspired by actress Genevieve Waite (wife of John Phillipsand mother of Bijou Phillips), Unclear (is it I wish or Zulu?) "ZuluWarrior", as well as the very 1969 Velvet Underground-ish "Flowers",co-written by Genevieve. In fact, the opening track sounds like the1990's/2000 version of Paul Kantner's Jefferson Starship as does "NotToo Cool", as recorded on 3/12/1982 at The Savoy. In the 1980's there was a Boston area TV special on the new album being tracked in Kingston, Massachusetts by Phillips and the band. To these ears what I heard on the tv special (and live at The Channel club while this writer wasplaying Ms. Pac Man with Spanky McFarlane's 12 year old daughter) waslight years beyond the 1971 final studio album by the original group,the "People Like Us" disc which featured the Janis Joplin tribute"Pearl". "I Wish" is a pop masterpiece by John Phillips, better thanhis obscure theme to the 1970 film "Myra Breckinridge". It is a hitwaiting to happen for some smart pop artist. Gary Burke's brilliantdrumming meets Gary Kelly's consistent bass - more on target than thesuperb session band on the Monterey performance. MacKenzie Phillipssings the theme to her hit TV show, "One Day At A Time's - This Is It".It's territory Wilson/Phillips - that daughters of the BeachBoys/Mamas & The Papas never ventured into, and Shayne Fontaine'sguitar is essential, as it is on all fifteen selections here. Fontaineadds a spacious elegance to the proceedings, not standing in thebackground a la Eric Hord and P.F.Sloan, Shayne glides along theperfect melody of "Not Too Cool" - and hear Spanky put that earthyvoice inside the delicate melody, Starship lyrics of "lost in space, amillion miles from home" anticipating a classic Mamas & The Papas hook."If something's for nothing you know there's something wrong." And amelody as great as the lyric. Magnificent. The harmonies get the benefit of Gary Burke's slamming drums and cymbals, God is he ever great here. Joe Jackson and Dr. Greg Kroll never let him explodelike this. And Shayne Fontaine's cosmic musings on the original P.F. Sloan intro to California Dreaming (well, everyone saysit was Glen Campbell, but P.F.'s 80's girlfriend told me it was PhillipFlip) delivers a tremendous live version with MacKenzie and Spankyworking hard with Denny Doherty, the keyboards of Arthur Stead thefurthest thing from Bread, all due respect to Mr. Knetchel - but theyreally put a different sound together, a more rocking unit, and itworks. It is here - it is the holy grail of pop music fans of TheBeatles, The Velvets, The Byrds, Steely Dan and so many others must value and appreciate. For it is the fatherly, caring hands ofengineer Stuart Dawson, Dinky himself, who puts to a two track cassettewhat some producer/engineers can't do with 96 tracks. As MacKenzie sangso philosophically "this is it" - the real thing, a lost treasure byJohn Phillips, pop genius, and a group that should have ruled on radioin the 1980's. Hear here what the world missed out on.

written by Joe Viglione copyright (C) August 4/5, 2003




Reviewby Joe Viglione

With the lengthy title of Historic Performances Recorded at the Monterey International Pop Festival, this 1971 release was recorded at the event held at Monterey, CA, between June 16-18 in 1967. Six of the eight tunes appear on the box set Rhino released of the mega concert, excluding "Somebody Groovy" and "Spanish Harlem." John Phillips' arranging and songwriting genius has never been properly recognized as the inspiring force that it was and continues to be, and though this Wally Heider remote recording (mixed in the studio by Erick Weinberg) is deficient, the performance by the original group at this important point in time is enthusiastic and worthwhile. As this writer put it in the liner notes requested by Dinky Dawson for his production of the latter-day version of the band's Sold Out: Live at the Savoy 3/12/82 on Rykodisc, "The highly influential group has not had the luxury of each and every live cassette and studio outtake traded the way Lou Reed, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones get studied, sought after, and talked about." At Monterey the band included many of the musicians from the Deliver album -- future Bread keyboard player Larry Knechtel was utilized along with Joe Osborne on bass and Dr. Eric Hord on guitar. Replacing Captain & Tennille drummer Hal Blaine was Chicago area percussionist Fast Eddie. The disc is vocal-heavy, as it should be for a harmony quartet, and the bootleg quality actually adds a sort of charm. Dunhill/ABC was desperate for more Mamas & Papas product and the drive of the live version of "Got a Feeling" didn't deny the label something substantial to offer the fans. A band so slick in the studio is fun heard letting it all hang out at this monumental event, and the bottom line is that for fans this is a wonderful, if all too brief, glimpse of the four in performance at the height of their fame. It's 33 minutes and 29 seconds -- including on-stage chatter -- that becomes more valuable as time goes by. Listen to the band cook on "California Dreamin'" and John Phillips belt it out with Mama Cass countering his moves. As credible as any garage rock group churning out "Pushin' Too Hard" and hoping for stardom, these stars shine perhaps because the performance is somewhat ragged. Who wants a clone of the studio stuff anyway?


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