The group that came to be known and loved as The Turtles spent the early '60's as one of the Los Angeles areas most popular dance bands (The Crossfires) in the pre-Beatles era. The group combined a little bit of surf and a little bit of the R&B influenced sound that was all the rage before music changed dramatically in early 1964. The Crossifres saw the writing on the wall and recast their group in a folk-rock mode where they saw massive success throughout 1966-1969 with a superb run of singles and LP's that were some of the finest offerings in all American made pop of the era, and there was a whole lot of competition!
But The Turtles 'turned on' like so many of their other contemporaries, resulting in some freaky and compelling records along the way.
Buried on the flip side of The Turtles smash hit, folk-rock debut (1965) cover of Bob Dylan's 'It Ain't Me Babe' lies a beat MONSTER in lead singer Mark Volman's 'Almost There'. It's safe to say that the group was highly influenced by the likes of their L.A contemporaries Love and The Leaves when they wrote and recorded this track, which is full of mod energy.
The group scored two more smash hits for their second and third single releases (the mild protest pop of 'Let Me Be' and the good vibrations of 'You Baby') when ultra-weirdness struck in the form of their fourth single, the downright bizarro how-did-this-even-get-released 'Grim Reaper Of Love'. With a dark message equating relationships with death and a waltz-time droning freakout, this record made the lower reaches of the top 100, surprisingly, but disappeared quickly. The chanting intro is strongly reminiscent of The Yardbirds (also moody) 'Still I'm Sad', and the abrasive guitars predict the sound of Sonic Youth fifteen years before they were formed.
More hits followed, and by 1967 the leaders/ vocalists of the group (Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, later rechristened Flo And Eddie during their tenure with Frank Zappa) were quite open that they'd been deeply psychedelicized. I first heard 'She's My Girl' on the Rhino Records Turtles Greatest Hits LP where the fellas describe the weird scene in the studio during the sessions where (bassist) Jim Pons had a mild freak out where he thought HE was in fact, John Lennon as the walrus, and concurrently producer Joe Wissert was reciting non stop poetry while eating bat shaped cookies. Out of such a strange scene emerged one of the great American psychedelic singles of the age, full of the soaring Turtles harmonies, lush orchestration and a lovely tempo/ time shift that turns the song upside down.The US-issued picture sleeve shown here is a beautiful two sided graphic design that fits of the mood of the record perfectly and was begging to have both sides scanned as you see here.
Highly influenced by the Kinks Village Green Preservation Society LP in 1968, the group went on to hit another peak with the Ray Davies produced LP Turtle Soup in 1969, but that's another story (and a record well worth checking out in its own right).