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The Turtles - All The Singles (2016) review


The Complete Turtles, Part Two:  The Singles

“All The Singles” by The Turtles (Manifesto Records, 2016)

August 19th will see the complete works of The Turtles reissued by Manifesto Records in two releases, the previously reviewed 6 CD, 141 track box set, “The Complete Original Album Collection” and its companion, the 2 CD “All The Singles” which does exactly what it claims, collecting a total of 48 sides, each and every single a and b-side released by The Turtles on 45 rpm vinyl, most in mono, as well as some projected single sides that were never issued and two tunes issued as “The Dedications.”

The Turtles released some of the most memorable and melodic folk rock and pop rock singles of the 1960s, amassing a number one hit, five top ten’s, eight top twenty’s and nine top thirty’s.  The set opens with The Turtles cover of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe” which not only reached #8 on the Billboard charts but also became the title track to their late 1965 debut album which was released shortly after their cover of P.F. Sloan’s “Let Me Be” topped out at #29 on the charts.  A third single from the album, “You Baby” reached #20.  From the beginning some of the most interesting tracks were band original b-sides like the hard rocking “Almost There” the Howard Kaylan penned flip side of “It Ain’t Me Babe” featuring incendiary guitar work by Al Nichol.

Not all The Turtles singles enjoyed such success however.  The frantic yet melodic “Grim Reaper Of Love” written by bassist Chuck Portz and guitarist Al Nichol, who displays his prowess on this incredible tune that barely charted, reaching only #81 and was followed by three more less than successful releases, before the timeless “Happy Together” hit #1 on the charts and made The Turtles a household name.  While the previous releases may not have sold there were some darned good recordings such as their rocking cover of the Warren Zevon/Glenn Crocker tune “Outside Chance” which certainly deserved a much better fate.  

The follow up, also from the “Happy Together” album, was another Gary Bonner/Alan Gordon goodtime pop rocker, the uptempo “She’d Rather Be With Me” which hit #3 in mid-1967 and was followed by two more Bonner/Gordon feel good tunes, the non-LP single “You Know What I Mean” which hit #12, followed quickly by the gorgeous “She’s My Girl” which reached #14.  There would be no more singles supplied to the band by the duo, but what a run it was.  Some of the most melodic pop rock ever recorded without question, due in large part to Howard Kaylan’s incredible vocals.

In early 1968 The Turtles began releasing original material on the a-side of singles.  The first, “Sound Asleep” was less successful missing the Top 40 completely, despite incredible drum work by John Barbata.  A wonderful cover of Harry Nilsson’s “Story Of Rock And Roll’ another non-LP single, likewise fell short, but the band original “Elenore,” from “The Battle Of The Bands” LP, a gorgeous pop rocker, made #6 as did the follow up, a cover of The Byrds’ “You Showed Me” full of ethereal vocals from Kaylan and a gentle vibe.  The band penned b-sides “Surfer Dan” and “Buzz Saw” take the band back to its surf rock roots, then fast forwards to some nasty fuzz filled r and b.

Despite releasing some interesting, more than worthy originals such as the gorgeous “You Don’t Have To Walk In The Rain” (early 1969) and the Rascals sounding “In The City” (late 1969) The Turtles never again approached the Top 40.  But The Turtles legacy includes latter day original gems like the late 1969 rollicking band original “Somewhere Friday Night”, the early 1970 anti-war song “We Ain’t Gonna Party No More”, and killer covers such as P.F. Sloan’s cold war anthem “Eve Of Destruction” recorded in 1966 but not released as a single until mid-1970.

“All The Singles” comes with a 20 page color booklet with complete song annotations, track by track commentary by members of the band and music historian Andrew Sandoval, incredible remastering by Bill Inglot and Dave Schultz at d2 Mastering and lots of gorgeous photos.  If you are old enough you will recognize lots of these songs from AM radio, if not you’ve no doubt heard many of the tunes on classic rock stations.  The songs are presented, mostly in mono, as originally released and have certainly never sounded better.  All fans of folk rock, pop rock and psychedelic rock should have this set and the companion box set of albums by The Turtles in their collection.  With these two reissues you have everything The Turtles ever released and then some.  That’s a very good thing!

To preorder your copy of “All The Singles” follow this link.

- Kevin Rathert
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