Music is the soundtrack to our lives. And on Christmas Day 2012, four days after the world was supposed to end, GuysNation columnist Bryan Lienesch was given the book ‘1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die’. As he flipped through it, an idea dawned on him right then and there: he would attempt to knock all 1,001 albums off his list. Not just before he dies, but as fast as life would allow.
This is the Bucket Beats List.
Think about a 1960’s album. What does it need? What does it not need but SHOULD have? And most importantly, what does it sound like?
The Mama’s And The Papa’s debut album, ‘If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears’, is, quite frankly, everything you should expect in an album from the decade. A smash single to carry the record? Check (‘California Dreamin”). A song revolving around some sort of alternative lifestyle? Check (‘Straight Shooter’). An homage to The Beatles? Check (‘I Call Your Name’)? And a running time just a smidge longer than an episode of Gilligan’s Island? Double check.
In hindsight, of course, these attributes existing in the album are obviously coincidental, but it’s what has allowed this record to transcend the decades that followed and, well, is probably the main reason it’s on this list.
That’s not to say though that the record didn’t pack a punch in its own time. As I already mentioned (and you probably know), ‘California Dreamin” was an incredible success. The single ended up selling more than the album itself, which did go Gold.
The interesting thing is, for my taste, ‘Go Where You Wanna Go’ (which was also written by John Phillips) is nearly as good of a song. Yet, when you look at the numbers and just generally pop culture acclaim, it is very much stuck in the shadow of ‘California Dreamin”.
And really, anytime the most popular song on your record is one of your own when the track listing also includes a Beatles smash hit, odds are you’ve probably made it.
What makes The Mama’s And The Papa’s take on ‘I Call Your Name’ so special though is how wildly they’ve transformed it. Not just that, but also the covers of ‘Do You Wanna Dance’ and ‘Spanish Harlem’. Even though the latter two in this rendition aren’t particularly my cup of tea, the tracks live by a musical tenet of mine: if you’re going to cover something, make it your own.
So I don’t have to actually like the songs to appreciate the work they did.
That’s what is so great about this album. Nothing on it is so alien in nature that you dare call the record inconsistent, but yet every track is distinctly a different flavor. And with 12 shots, odds are The Mama’s And The Papa’s get you with SOMETHING.
Why? Because the album has a little bit of EVERYTHING. It has covers. It has original songs. It has sweet, enjoyable tunes. It has social commentary. It’s wide-spanning spectrum might’ve kept it out of the argument for “greatest album of all time”, but there’s no denying the collection is memorable.
3. Go Where You Wanna Go
2. Straight Shooter
1. California Dreamin’
Least Favorite Tracks?
3. Do You Wanna Dance
2. Hey Girl
1. You Baby
Do you really need to listen to this album before you die?
Yes, actually, you do.
When Bryan isn’t writing, he is on Twitter! Make sure to give him a follow @bclienesch for social media shenanigans!