‘If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears’: Mamas and The Papas Fill Our Senses

The quartet’s debut album displayed their unique ability to own songs across a wide range of pop styles, both their compositions and covers.

Published on

The Mamas and the Papas ‘If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears’ artwork - Courtesy: UMG
The Mamas and the Papas ‘If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears’ artwork - Courtesy: UMG

Whether you know the catalog of The Mamas And The Papas, or your knowledge of them is limited to “Monday, Monday” and “California Dreamin,’” a visit to their excellent first album of 1966 will be highly rewarding. It was If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Earswhich entered the US chart 0n March 12, 1966.

The quartet, who distilled the very essence of the California vocal sound as it matured from straight pop to the greater sophistication of the second half of the 1960s, were not an immediate success. Their first single, the glorious, richly orchestrated John Phillips composition “Go Where You Wanna Go,” failed to make the charts, but when Phillips and his wife of three years, Michelle, came up with the bittersweet “California Dreamin’” and Dunhill released it as single late in 1965, it was a different story.

Signature hits and much more

The song became a US Top 5 hit, followed just three months later by another superior single, “Monday, Monday,” which went to No.1 in the States and into the UK and Australian Top 5. The time was right for a debut album containing both of the hits, the earlier, undeserved miss and a great deal more, and that was If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears, produced by Lou Adler.

Listening to the record again, what comes through is not just the extraordinary power of the group harmonies created by John and Michelle, Denny Doherty and Cass Elliot. It’s their unique ability to “own” songs across a wide range of pop styles, on a record split evenly between their own compositions and covers that are every bit the equal of their originals.

Four-way flexibility

Of their material, “Straight Shooter” is a guitar-led piece that previews the sound that the Monkees would make their own later in 1966. Among the other John Phillips compositions, “Got A Feelin’” has a gentle, metronomic beauty while “Somebody Groovy” is joyous, quintessential Mamas & Papas. “Hey Girl” (written by John and Michelle) has Cass taking the lead and Larry Knechtel’s keyboards to the fore, along with the drums of omnipresent session king Hal Blaine.

I Call Your Name

Click to load video

The group had the imagination to address a relative Beatles obscurity (if indeed that word truly applies to any Beatles recording). “I Call Your Name,” issued on their Long Tall Sally EP, was never on an original album, and the American quartet make it theirs by completely changing the tempo and feel.

Bobby Freeman’s “Do You Wanna Dance” is similarly successful, even though it was a well-worn song by then, from Freeman’s 1958 original and hit covers on either side of the Atlantic by Cliff Richard and The Beach Boys. Despite all that, the M&Ps slow it down and give it their stamp, and “Spanish Harlem” and “The ‘In’ Crowd” are also successfully updated.

Listen to the best of the Mamas and the Papas on Apple Music and Spotify.

By May 1966, If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears was spending a week at No.1 in the States. Fans there, and beyond, could believe their eyes and ears, and filled them with the Mamas and the Papas.

Buy or stream If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears.



  1. DC SEO Consultant

    February 6, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    So if you are interested in increasing the revenue of your online
    business, you must take the help of an SEO agency in Singapore.
    Then they suggest tailor-made solutions to suit your requirements and
    budget. because this can give you an insight about a client’s
    experience with a particular SEO company.

  2. Klaus

    February 6, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Hello there! This article couldn’t be written any better!

    Looking through this article reminds me of my previoys roommate!
    He always kept talking about this. I will send this information to him.

    Pretty sure he’ll have a good read. I appreciate you for sharing!

  3. more information

    February 6, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    Each new age brought the criminal element forward with
    it. They only want your money and they want as much of it as they
    can possibly get. You can download Avast Free Antivirus for free from the Avast website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

uDiscover Music - Back To Top
uDiscover Music - Back To Top