The Turtles

May 27, 2020


Back on vinyl, digitally remastered from the original tapes.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. —Formed in Westchester, California by high school friends Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, along with Don Murray, Al Nichol, Chuck Portz, and Jim Tucker, the Turtles racked up nine Top 40 hits, including the unforgettable “Happy Together,” during their original run from 1965-1970. While the band may be best known for that and a few other chart-toppers, each of their six studio albums offers unique gems and unsung treasures, featuring unforgettable harmonies and sardonic wit. At long last, those albums are being reissued as they were meant to be heard — on vinyl — on June 26 by Manifesto Records.

Originally released on the Los Angeles-based White Whale label, the long out of print albums were reissued on CD in 2016, but now, for the first time in more than a decade, they’re back on vinyl, digitally remastered from the original tapes.

And purists won’t have to struggle with the old mono vs. stereo conundrum. The band’s first three albums — It Ain’t Me BabeYou Baby, and Happy Together — will be issued in high-quality gatefold jackets as two-record sets with both the mono and stereo versions, so you’ll get the best of both worlds. The later three albums — Battle of the BandsTurtle Soup, and Wooden Head— will also be released in gatefolds as two-record sets with the original album, plus a second disc featuring rare bonus material, including previously unreleased recordings.

It Ain't Me Babe, the Turtles’ 1965 full-length debut, includes the Top 10 hit cover of the classic Bob Dylan tune that served as the album’s title track, and renditions of Dylan’s “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” and “Like a Rolling Stone,” as well as a take on P.F. Sloan’s “Eve of Destruction.” The album also features several Kaylan originals that show his evolution as a songwriting force.

You Baby, the band’s 1966 sophomore set, also features a mix of covers and originals, including the Top 20 hit title track, penned by Sloan and Steve Barri, whose “Can I Get to Know You Better” closes out the album. Another Sloan cover from the album, “Let Me Be,” was also released as a single and cracked the Top 30 prior to the album’s release.

With 1967’s Happy Together, the Turtles reached their peak, both chart-wise (#25 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart) and artistically. It features the band’s two highest-charting singles:  the #1 title track as well as “She’d Rather Be With Me” (#3), both written by the songwriting team of Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon. A third song written by the duo, “You Know What I Mean,” reached #12. Also notable are the Kaylan/Volman co-write “Think I’ll Run Away,” and “Like the Seasons,” composed by a young Warren Zevon.

On 1968’sThe Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands, the group broke out of their, er, shell with a concept album in which the band adopted the personas of 11 fictitious acts, including the Atomic Enchilada and Chief Kamanawanalea and His Royal Macadamia Nuts. It included the band’s most original material to date, plus the title track, written by Harry Nilsson and producer Chip Douglas, and “You Showed Me,” penned by the Byrds' Jim McGuinn and Gene Clark, which became the Turtles’ final Top 10 hit. “Elenore,” credited to Howie, Mark, Johny, Jim & Al on the album, also cracked the Top 10.

Although 1969's Turtle Soup failed to spawn a hit single, and stalled at No. 117 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart, it’s notable as the full-album production debut of the Kinks’ Ray Davies, who likely felt a kinship to a group that seemed the American pop cousins of the British band. With 1970's Wooden Head, the Turtles collected B-sides and other rarities, including an alternate version of “The Wanderin’ Kind,” which goes back full circle, as the original version was the opening track on the band’s first album, 1965’s It Ain’t Me Babe.


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