The Turtles


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1  (1965-67)

- Howard Kaylan -- vocals, keyboards

- Don Murray -- drums, percussion

- Al Nichol -- lead guitar

- Chuck Portz -- bass

- Jim Tucker -- rhythm guitar

- Mark Volman -- vocals

 

  line up 2  (1967-69)

- Howard Kaylan -- vocals, keyboards

- Don Murray -- drums, percussion

- Al Nichol -- lead guitar

- Chuck Portz -- bass

- Mark Volman -- vocals

 

  line up 3  (1967-69)

NEW - John Barbata -- drums, percussion (replaced Don Murray)

NEW - Chip Douglas -- bass (replaced Chuck Portz)

- Howard Kaylan -- vocals, keyboards

- Al Nichol -- lead guitar

- Mark Volman -- vocals

 

  line up 4  (1969-70)

- Howard Kaylan -- vocals, keyboards

- Al Nichol -- lead guitar

- Jim Pons -- bass (replaced Chip Douglas)

NEW - John Sieter -- drums, percussion (replaced John Barbata)

- Mark Volman -- vocals

 

 

 

- The Crossfires (Howard Kaylan, Don Murray, Al Nichols,

  Chuck Portz , Mark Volman, and Dale Walton)

- Flo and Eddie (Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman)

- Hill, Barbata &Ethridge (John Barbata)

- The Jefferson Airplane (John Barbata)

- The Jefferson Starship (John Barbata)

- The Leaves (Jim Pons)

- The Modern Folk Quartet (Chuck Douglas)

- Rosebud  (John Sieter)

- The Sentinals (Johnny Barbata)

- Spanky & Our Gang  (John Sieter)

- The Tyrtles

- Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention (Howard Kaylan, 

  Jim Pons and  Mark Volman)

 


 

Genre: pop

Rating: *** 3 stars

Title:  Turtle Soup

Company: White Whale

Catalog: WW 1742
Year:
 1969

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; original lyric inner sleeve

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 2724

Price: $15.00

1969 saw the band undergo another personnel change with John Barbata replaced by former Leaves and Spanky and Our Gang drummer John Seiter.  

 

The band 's fifth studio album, "Turtle Soup"  found them trying to move away from catchy top-40 pop songs towards a hipper "FM" sound.   The band looked at a number of producers, before settling on  Kinks front man Ray Davies.  Having just completed "(The Kinks Are) The Village Green Preservation Society", the project marked Davies first foray into outside production work.  Perhaps nothing more than urban myth, but the story is The Turtles were hoping to have some Kinks influences rub off on their work, while Davies was more interested in getting out of England and encouraging his record label (Reprise), to provide more support to the Kinks.  Overlooking the album title, the collection found the band playing it relatively straightforward.  With the exception of 'Torn Between Temptations' and 'Bachelor Mother' (gang rape hardly being your typical Turtles topic), their usual sense of goofiness was largely absent across these twelve group panned tunes.  That wasn't necessarily a bad thing since the majority of these songs were quite good, underscoring the band's knack for crafting highly commercial pop material.  The collection also interesting for opening spreading the vocal wealth around.  While Kaylan had always been the primary singer, this time around the entire band stepped into the limelight.  Mark remained the primary singer, but lead guitarist Al Nichol handled  'Bachelor Mother' and 'John & Julie'.   Bassist Jim Pons could be heard on 'Dance This Dance'.  Drummer Seiter was featured on 'How You Love Me', and Mark Volman stepped out with 'Bachelor Mother'.  The album also demonstrated a far more versatile sound, bouncing around from Byrds-styled jangle rock ('She Always Leave Me Laughing'), Kinks-styled art-rock (Bachelor Mother'), straight ahead rock and roll ('Come Over'), and lite psych ('House On the Hill').  Ironically, the one thing missing from the album - any real Kinks influences. 

 

For anyone interested, the online EarCandy blog has an extensive interview with Volman.  It includes a detailed discussion of the band's interaction with Davies: https://www.earcandymag.com/turtles.htm 

 

"Turtle Soup" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Come Over   (Howard Kaylan - Mark Volman - Al Nichol - Jim Pons  - John Seiter) - 2:23   rating: *** stars

Squealing Al Nichol lead guitar; bluesy vibe ...  what happened to The Turtles we knew and loved ?   Just kidding.  They may have been trying to toughen up their image and gain some street credibility, but they were still The Turtles - hearing the "we could have a ball - yeah, come over" refrain was guaranteed to make you smile.

2.) House On the Hill   (Howard Kaylan - Mark Volman - Al Nichol - Jim Pons  - John Seiter)- 2:55   rating: *** stars

I'm not sure I can put my finger on it, but the lysergic-tinged ballad 'House On the Hill' was one of the tracks that reflected a clear Ray Davies influence.   YouTube has a clip of the band lip synching the song on The Mike Douglas Show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSZTsJaCV6s  

3.) She Always Leaves Me Laughing   (Howard Kaylan - Mark Volman - Al Nichol - Jim Pons  - John Seiter) - 2:45   rating: **** stars

Opening the song with Al Nichols' jangle guitar instantly recalled something out of The Byrds catalog (which was a good thing in my catalog).  Sweet ballad that sounded more 1966 than 1969.   Darn if Kaylan and Volman couldn't blend their voices together well  ...  It made you wonder why they hadn't done more of it in the past.

4.) How You Love Me   (Howard Kaylan - Mark Volman - Al Nichol - Jim Pons  - John Seiter) - 2:58

Perhaps the album's strangest tune, 'How You Love Me' bounced between throwaway top-40 pop and a darker, heavier rock sound. 

5.) Torn Between Temptations   (Howard Kaylan - Mark Volman - Al Nichol - Jim Pons  - John Seiter) - 2:45  rating; *** stars

Country-rock ?   'Torn Between Temptations' was a momentary return to their quirkier, juvenile side. The 14 year old boy in you had to snicker when you heard the lyrics "It feels like heaven going down ..."

6.) Love In the City   (Howard Kaylan - Mark Volman - Al Nichol - Jim Pons  - John Seiter) - 3:31  rating: **** stars

Not your standard Turtles top-40 ditty, but 'In the City' was still the album's stand out performance.  Kicked along by Seiter's frenetic energy and some nice Nichol's guitar, the song had a great melody and showcased some interesting vocal gymnastics between Kaylan and Volman.  Keith Moon would have approved of Seiter's drumming  ...   The song was tapped as the album's second single:

- 1969's 'Love In the City' b/w 'Bachelor Mother' (White Whale catalog number WWS-326) # 91 pop

 

(side 2)

1.) Bachelor Mother  (Howard Kaylan - Mark Volman - Al Nichol - Jim Pons  - John Seiter) - 2:38   rating: *** stars

With a bouncy country-rock melody and a snarky lyric, 'Bachelor Mother' marked a return to a more typical Turtles approach.  The song was also interesting for featuring guitarist Nichol's on vocals ...

2.) John and Julie  (Howard Kaylan - Mark Volman - Al Nichol - Jim Pons  - John Seiter) - 3:10   rating: **** stars

If there was a song that reflected a Kinks influence, then it was probably the strange 'John and Julie'.  The lyric was impenetrable, but the combination of the English-folk melody and elaborate instrumentation came close to recreating that unique Kinks sound.

3.) Hot Little Hands  (Howard Kaylan - Mark Volman - Al Nichol - Jim Pons  - John Seiter) - 4:10   rating: *** stars

And you didn't think they could rock out ?   The rhythm section ran away with this one.  Seiter provided some amazing drums on this one, but the secret sauce this time around was bassist Jim Pons.   Nichol and Seiter on lead vocals.

4.) Somewhere Friday Night  (Howard Kaylan - Mark Volman - Al Nichol - Jim Pons  - John Seiter) - 3:20   rating: **** stars

Geez, when did I put on The Zombies album ?  Seriously, Volman and the band nailed that band's sinuous, jazzy vibe without breaking into a sweat. Very different and kind of cool.  The version that made the album was apparently a demo the band recorded without Davies participation.  YouTube has a clip of the band lip synching the song for a 1970 appearance on the Barbara McNair television show:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bAdWi6rKWs   Volman on guitar ?

5.) Dance This Dance  (Howard Kaylan - Mark Volman - Al Nichol - Jim Pons  - John Seiter) - 3:30   rating: ** stars

Weird country-meets-The Beach Boys tune.  The harmony vocals were sweet, but the song was completely forgettable.

6.) You Don't Have To Walk In the Rain  (Howard Kaylan - Mark Volman - Al Nichol - Jim Pons  - John Seiter) - 2:42

The album's most Turtles-sounding tune, 'You Don't Have To Walk In the Rain' sounded like it was cut from the same bolt of clothe as the earlier hits.  Nice and quite commercial, but not exactly the direction the band was interested in pursuing.  Easy to see why White Whale tapped it as the leadoff single:

- 1969's 'You Don't Have To Walk In the Rain' b/w 'Come Over' (White Whale catalog number WWS 308) # 51 pop

 

 

 

The collection hit # 117 on the US album charts and led to increasing tension with their label and among the band itself.   Unhappy with sales, White Whale (already in severe financial trouble), wanted the band to return to a pop oriented sound featuring Kaylan and Volman.  The ran opposite of the group's desires to be taken as a more rock oriented entity.  The band went back into the studio with producer Jerry Yester, but after almost completing sessions for the album (tentatively titled "Shell Shock"), abandoned the project when White Whale management insisted the band record a Ralph Dino and John Sembello song entitled  'Who Would Ever Thought I Would Marry Margaret?   Supposedly locked in the studio until they finished the song, the band hated the tune and reluctantly added vocals to a pre-recorded musical track.  Within a couple of months The Turtles were history.   White Whale actually completed the song and released it as a promo single.  For anyone interested, Rhino released "Shell Shock" in 1987.

Kaylan and Volman found themselves barred from using The Turtles nameplate (they regained control of the name in the 1980s), and began working as Flo and Eddie.  Together with bassist Pons, they started working with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.

 

 

For hardcore fans, the album's been reissued a couple of times.  

 

 In 1993 the German Repertoire label released the album in CD format with eight bonus tracks (Repertoire catalog number REP 4398-WY):

 

1.) Chicken Little was Right - 2:53

2.) Lady-O   (Judee Sill) - 2:52

3.) The Last Thing I Remember - 3:25

4.) The Owl - 4:12

5.) To See the Sun - 4:12

6.) If We Only Had the Time - 5:09

7.) Can I Go On - 3:00

8.) Dance This Dance  (Howard Kaylan - Mark Volman - Al Nichol - Jim Pons  - John Seiter) - 3:17

 

 

In 1996 Sundazed reissued the album in CD format with two bonus tracks (Sundazed catalog SC 6086):

 

1.) Lady-O   (Judy Sill) - 2:53

2.) The Last Thing I Remember - 4:26

 

   

Rhino catalg number RNLP 70157 

 

In 1996 Rhino Records reissued the collection in vinyl format with a different cover, a different running order, and a different mix. Working with Harold Bronson, Kaylan added in what had been the band's original vision for a more orchestrated Kinks-styled sound.  Rhino's reissue presented a completely remixed and re-sequenced version (by Kaylan and Harold Bronson) with the stated goal of meeting Davies' original more orchestral pop version.

 



 

 

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