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John the Wolfking of L.A.

John Phillips

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Album Review

The first solo album of the architect of the Mamas & Papas sound, John Phillips, was certainly one of the more heralded events at the dawn of the 1970s. Phillips, the primary songwriter and vocal arranger for all of the group's great records, however, was not exactly a great lead vocalist. Phillips knew this, and, according to his book, Papa John, he purposely buried his voice in the mix. This proved to be a bit of tragedy, because underneath it all, this is an excellent album. Songs such as "April Anne," "Malibu People," and "Holland Tunnel" bear out what a fine songwriter he really was, and indeed, these are some of the finest songs of his career. The performances on this record are spectacular. Backed by an all-star group of musicians (most of Elvis Presley's band, including James Burton, as well as the Wrecking Crew, among others), the record's decidedly country feel is crafted to the extreme. Mamas co-founder Denny Doherty has always felt that had the Mamas & Papas recorded this album, it would have been one of their finest. There's no doubt. [This edition of the album contains eight bonus tracks.]

Biography

Born: 30 August 1935 in Parris Island, SC

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

John Phillips may easily be called one of the best pop songwriters of the later 20th century. He honed his songwriting and arranging skills with singing groups that gained a modicum of success. But his crowning musical achievement was the work he did with his '60s group the Mamas and the Papas. Their popularity helped to stem the tide of the "British Invasion" of the 1960s, and bring attention back to American popular music. After a stunningly successful three-year run, the band collapsed under the...
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John the Wolfking of L.A., John Phillips
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