No Salt on Their Lips [3.5 stars]
Jeffrey Thames | Houston, TX | 02/16/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"People Like Us wouldn't exist if the brass at Dunhill hadn't threatened the M&Ps with a $250K-per-member lawsuit for breach of contract. At the time of its shotgun birth, the band had been dissolved for three years, John and Michelle had been divorced for one, and Cass was in ill health (and likely vexed at having her burgeoning solo career put on hold for the sake of old business). The group's signature harmonies were created via individual overdubs, a method unheard of in that so-called "first golden era". The album's light-funk approach met with either disappointment or indifference from the same record-buying public that made them one of the most popular American groups of the late sixties. It limped into the album charts (barely aided by the #81 single, "Step Out") and dropped off shortly thereafter. The Mamas & the Papas were officially (and legally) no more.
Sounds like an unfortunate waste of energy, doesn't it? And yet I can't not like this album.
Perhaps the fate of People Like Us was sealed from the start (do you honestly think they would have toured to support it?), but had the title track, "Shooting Star", or "European Blueboy" been the single rather than the comparatively sleepy "Step Out", Top 40 radio might have been a little more receptive, and the M&Ps might have gone out with a deserved bang. The title cut especially would have sounded at home alongside "What's Going On" that year...Papa John's affinity for Motown was still evident.
Besides the occasionally dippy lyric, the most audible weak spots are "I Wanna Be A Star", which Michelle penned (but Cass should have taken the lead on), and the awkwardly-spliced piano-chord coda of the Janis Joplin ode "Pearl".
Nobody in the group was too fond of their forced denouement; John and Denny often said that the material for John's solo debut (Wolf King of L.A.) would have made a grander finale. With so much time (and 75% of the group) having passed, and oldies radio's limited scope having drained their biggest hits of wonder, People Like Us deserves a revisitation. Spend a warm, lazy afternoon with the final dozen recordings of the original Mamas & Papas and see if you don't cozy up to this collection by the final note. Pass the chips."
Last but not least...
i. t. j. | 08/12/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"...good but not great. If only the band had been in a better place or even been a band at the time (which they weren't) they might have made a classic more contemporary album say a la Fleetwood Mac's Rumors. However, they didnt and were unable to stay together or relevant at the time. Cass had success at first as a soloist and later Michelle tried but it seemed like all the solo efforts were doomed by the phenomal success they had in the sixties. This album I like better than the Papas and the Mamas-I find that album boring. I really enjoy Shooting Star, Pearl, I Wanna Be A Star, and Pacific Coast Highway. This album leaves the 60s sound behind and leaves you wanting a group album from the mid or late 70s even though due to Cass's untimely death that wouldnt have really been possible."