I Saw Them Again Last Night:
Selected M&P Compilations and Other Recordings
In addition to the regular releases featured on this site, there have been a few other albums related to the Mamas and Papas which have come out over the years. As with any popular group of the era, the Mamas and Papas have also had their music released and re-released countless times in compilation, greatest hits, and various artists albums. Some even appeared before the group itself was done. On this list I do not try to include all the various M&P compilations and special albums, but rather I give several specific ones which are either particularly important or I particularly like. Included with each are some comments and review.
The Mamas & The Papas: Historic Performances Recorded at the Monterey International Pop Festival – This infamous recording of the Mamas and Papas’ headline performance at the landmark Monterey Pop Festival, which John Phillips and Lou Adler basically created, is plagued by mic problems (where’s Michelle?), poor sound quality, and even off-key singing (I’m convinced they couldn’t hear themselves in their monitors). Nonetheless, it contains several interesting parts not the least of which is the great on-stage banter (you get a great feel for the centrality of Cass’s personality to the group). Moreover, if you listen closely you can hear some nice changes or additions to familiar songs (I really like the organ/harpsichord in the background of “Got a Feelin'”). Though it was recorded at the Festival from June 16-18, 1967, the recording was not released until 1971 after the group had already separated.
Bottom Line: A good album for fans wanting to get a better feel for the M&P onstage; not for people trying to discover the songs and sound of the group.
Creeque Alley: The History of The Mamas and the Papas – Considered by many to be a definitive collection of the Mamas and Papas’ work, it has all the big hits and single releases of the group. The plus of the set is the inclusion of several songs of various groups which John, Cass, Michelle, and Denny were part of before becoming the Mamas and Papas as well as some of their solo efforts afterwards. The liner notes have a lot of helpful information and interesting historical notes. There are also a few extras thrown in such as interview clips, outtakes, and alternate versions. I’m a little disappointed with the sparse representation of songs from certain albums (particularly the 1968 Papas and the Mamas), but this is primarily due to the fact that these albums had fewer hits and singles released.
Bottom Line: A must-have for anybody who really enjoys the Mamas and Papas; the two-disc set may be a bit too much for a first introduction to the group.
This is probably the best and most widely available general compilation album at this time. (I started with the comparable but increasingly hard to find 16 Greatest Hits album) It contains basically all of the Mamas and Papas’ most well-known songs yet is short enough to merit a non-fan buying it to add to their collection. The best aspect of the album is that the songs chosen give a good representation of the range of styles of the group with offerings from each of their first four albums.
Bottom Line: The best-bet compilation to offer as a first introduction to the group or for fans wanting a wide range of songs on one disc.
A Gathering of Flowers – This retrospective of the group from 1970 compiles several of their songs interspersed with studio outtakes and clips of a few post-break up interviews of John and Cass in a two record set. These interviews were actually released in full on a separate record with the versions of this album which were provided to radio stations. The original liner contains a ton of pictures, a group history, and song lyrics.
Bottom Line: Very interesting for the pictures, studio chatter, and interview clips (though some of these can be found on the Creeque Alley set above); unfortunately, it was never re-released and is only available if you can find the original record.
Farewell to the First Golden Era – This album is a compilation of songs from the previous three albums of the Mamas and Papas. Apparently, it’s release was to be their last album for some time and was to coincide with the departure of John, Michelle, Cass, and Denny for Europe and the Mediterranean. (See the liner notes for the album.) This had much to do with the internal problems of the group. The trip turned immediately disastrous. As a result, the group recorded in the US instead and released an album the next year. This uncertainty about the future would forecast the eventual end of the group.
Bottom Line: The album charted at #5 at the time of its release but now is obsolete as more complete greatest hits exist. Only available if you can find it in vinyl and only of interest for the history.
Farewell to the First Golden Era, Vol. 2 – This 1968 follow-up to the first Golden Era album was released not too long after the group had split. It contains a number of songs from their first albums not included on the original Golden Era and a few songs from after it. The song choices are rather odd over all (largely slower and lesser known works).
Bottom Line: Not very interesting in and of itself and only available if you can find the original in vinyl.