Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Turtles - Turtle Soup

Turtle Soup was the band's fifth and final LP and the follow up to the concept album The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands. Released in 1969 by White Whale records the album was produced by Ray Davies of The Kinks. The Turtles were inspired by the Kinks' then-recent Village Green Preservation Society LP, and Turtle Soup remains Davies only production for another band. 

 The Turtles - Turtle Soup (White Whale Records, 1969)

Turtle Soup faired only slightly better than its predecessor and reached No. 117 in the US Album Chart. Turtle Soup contained a few singles: House on the Hill, You Don't Have to Walk in the Rain and Love in the City, all are really under-rated in my opinion. My own copy of Turte Soup is an original 1969 mint White Whale copy. It's an absolutlely beautiful textured gatefold sleeve with beautiful photography and art design and an inner sleeve containing all the lyrics.

Most people are only familiar with the group's hit single Happy Together and maybe the album of the same name but The Turtles have a really interesting back catelogue and Turtle Soup is well worth checking out.  

White Whale were pressuring the band for another hit single like Happy Together and Elenore, and wanted singers Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman to fire the rest of the group, and work instead with hired musicians, to save costs. On Turtle Soup Kaylan and Volman went the opposite direction and  democratised the band, insisting everyone share in the writing and vocal duties - the results are great.

Next the band began recording Turtle Soup's follow up, to be called Shell Shock, but dissension with the record label and within the group weighed them down and in early 1970 The Turtles disbanded. Their last single - their lushest ever - was a Judee Sill track called Lady-O but reaching No. 78 on the Billboard Hot 100 it was deemed a failure. White Whale released four more singles without the band's permission.  

Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan went on to join Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention. For contractual reasons they were prevented from using their own names in a musical context so were billed as Phlorescent Leech and Eddie (after two Turtles/Mothers road managers), which later became Flo & Eddie. They went on to have huge success in their own right and also as much sought after session musicians - that's Flo & Eddie you can hear on backing vocals on T-Rex's Get it On. They also sang on The Psychedelic Furs' 1982 Forever Now LP and Gavin Friday's 1989 Each Man Kills the Thing He Loves.

When White Whale's master recordings were sold at auction in 1974, Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan won the Turtles' masters tapes, making them the owners of their own recorded work. Later in 1984, after legally regaining their right to use the Turtles name, they began touring as The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie and continue to do so to this day.

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