May 2017 has seen many peculiar events popping up in the news, an almost daily dose of incredulity. Here comes another one. Somewhat unheralded Edsel Records have re-issued deluxe expanded versions of all six original albums by The Turtles. Yes indeed – It ain’t me Babe, You Baby and Happy Together all as mono and stereo versions, The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands and Turtle Soup with a disc of bonus tracks and the final, post break up release, Wooden Head has some more unused tracks added to it. It’s a long overdue set of releases – one of the most prominent bands of the late sixties who’s music has, bewilderingly, languished in anthology and Best Of oblivion. Since they are predominantly known as a singles bands – and the singles were far more successful than the albums – there are a vast number of songs across these records that many people won’t even be passingly familiar with. It’s a veritable treasure trove.
The Turtles had their own niche – like a lot of contemporary bands their first album used a couple of Dylan songs to bolster their own writing, but they soon developed a style of their own. Sitting in a comfortable position somewhere between The Byrds and The Lovin’ Spoonful and with the fun time image of The Monkees and a good dash of the vocal dexterity of the Mamas and the Papas their recordings were always above average and often stunningly good. The Turtles also benefited from songs by Gene Clark/Jim McGuinn and P.F. Sloan amongst others. The loose concept album Turtle Soup even saw an unusual producer credit from Ray Davies. Despite all this The Turtles never fully benefitted from their talent, but their musical legacy is undeniable.
With it being up to 20 years since some of these albums last saw a proper CD release this sudden and unexpected reappearance of everything is to be hugely welcomed. Now we just need proper reissues of Moby Grape’s output. Come on now – Moby Grape guys.