The Turtles

It Ain't Me Babe

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The Turtles' first album was recorded in a frantic hurry, in response to the hit status achieved by their debut single, "It Ain't Me Babe." At the time, the members were barely out of high school, a situation that might have caused a lot of other young musicians to fold up under the strain of the moment -- there was no time to write (and barely time to find) the songs the members might have seemed worthy of so momentous an event (which it would have been) as a debut long-player. But the members were smart and they were also lucky -- they reached out to more of Bob Dylan's songbag, and also back to their own high-school past in folk music as the Crosswind Singers. Thus, their debut album led with a chiming electric rendition of Howard Kaylan's 1963-vintage "Wanderin' Kind." That genial opening number led into their overwrought, almost folk-punk reinterpretation of "It Was a Very Good Year," which showed audiences to expect the unexpected from this sextet -- and in case anyone missed that point, the almost garage-punk style of "Your Maw Said You Cried" (which trod onto Paul Revere & the Raiders territory) brought it home in high amplification (for the time and the genre). The rest of the record veered across the folk-rock spectrum in smoothly polished form, as the bandmembers successfully shaped an artistic statement out of the flotsam and jetsam of their past, anchored by some prime Dylan material and a surprisingly un-ironic rendition of P.F. Sloan's "Eve of Destruction" (which belatedly became a hit single five years later, as a posthumous release by the record label). Heard with the benefit of hindsight, this album may now seem a very tame and predictable body of music from this band, but it has a geniality and polish that make it an enduring classic of its genre and period, if not exactly representative of the Turtles' range or their very best work.

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