The Turtles

The Complete Original Album Collection

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Judging from their radio hits, the Turtles were one of the best American pop bands of the '60s, crafting a series of engaging singles that were tuneful, witty, and fueled by a potent mix of Brill Building professionalism and knowing musical experimentation. But while one could certainly get a perspective on their genius through hits like "Happy Together," "Eleanor," "She's Rather Be with Me," and "You Baby," it was on their albums (and the B-sides of their 45s) where they let their imaginations run free and cut their wittiest and most ambitious material. The Complete Original Album Collection is just what the title suggests, a box set that includes the five albums the Turtles recorded during their original 1964 to 1970 run (1965's It Ain't Me Babe, 1966's You Baby/Let Me Be, 1967's Happy Together, 1968's The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands, and 1969's Turtle Soup), as well as 1970's Wooden Head, a set cobbled together from unreleased material that emerged just as the band and its label were flaming out. The first album is dominated by the band's early folk-rock influences (it includes four songs written by Bob Dylan, as well as P.F. Sloan's very Dylan-esque "Eve of Destruction"), while You Baby/Let Me Be and Happy Together find them celebrating their command of the pop single, as well as Al Nichol's superb guitar and keyboard work and the outstanding harmonies and songwriting of leaders Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan. The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands is the group's masterwork, a hilarious and remarkably accomplished set in which they impersonated a dozen different acts in just as many styles. And while Turtle Soup was recorded during a chaotic time for the Turtles, it's a mature and thoughtful album featuring some splendid songs and sympathetic production from Ray Davies of the Kinks. For this set, the first three Turtles albums are presented in both their stereo and mono mixes (the differences in the mixes are usually minimal, though obsessives will be glad they're both available), while the other discs feature the original albums along with a healthy serving of B-sides, rarities, demos, and alternate takes. For some people, this box set may be more Turtles than they want or need, and those folks are advised to either pick up the individual albums they favor, or get the concurrently released compilation All the Singles. But despite its bulk, The Complete Original Album Collection is a breezy and entertaining collection all the way through, and this music really does rank with the best, smartest, and wittiest pop music of the final half of the '60s. The Turtles were a unique band, and this set is joyous proof.

Track Listing - Disc 5

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:19
2 3:02
3 2:49
4 3:01
5 2:49
6 3:42
7 2:43
8 3:12
9 4:12
10 3:23
11 3:31
12 2:46
13 2:57
14 3:42
15 3:43
16 2:59
17 3:26
18 5:12
19 3:18
20 2:23
21 3:42
22 2:46
23 3:18
24 0:55
blue highlight denotes track pick