A strange album with a stranger history. Pretty good, though
David Goodwin | Westchester, NY United States | 12/23/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If any Turtles album can be described as having a "torturous history," Turtle Soup is it. The band was in turmoil as the sessions began. Drummer Johnny Barbata had just quit, and divisions with usual lead-singer Howard Kaylan had caused the band (now including drummer John Seiter, Howard Kaylan, Mark Volman, Jim Pons, and Al Nichol) to experiment with a new songwriting and singing "democracy." Simultaneously, White Whale was begging them for another hit, while the band--seeking artistic respectability--recruited the (at the time) commercial kiss-of-death talents of Ray Davies of the Kinks to produce. In fact, it's surprising that the recording was ever issued at all. Ray Davies's presence thrilled the band, but his actual production met with mixed reaction--he thought he was making a Turtles album, while the band wanted him to make a Kinks record! And, needless to say, the album underperformed tremendously, not generating nearly enough sales to keep the band or its label afloat.A shame, really, because Turtle Soup is a fine, if flawed, little album. One thing that immediately registers upon playing it is how *serious* it is compared with their other works; very little of the fun-loving spirit evident on, say, "Battle of the Bands" makes its presence felt here. On one hand, this keeps some of the stronger tracks from being undermined by silliness; on the other, it means that inappropriate seriousness raises its head more than once ("How You Loved Me" is far easier to take in its sung-by-Howard incarnation on Solid Zinc). But a great deal of the album shows the Turtles songwriting prowess at its finest. "Love in the City," a semi-hit, is a moody piece of gold from Al; "Somewhere Friday Nite" is absolutely stellar; and the uptempo "Come Over" and "She Always Leaves Me Laughing" work almost perfectly. Even the more peculiar tracks--"John and Julie" from Al, "House on the Hill" from Jim--demonstrate the underrated tune-crafting ability of the band.Sundazed's package, however, leaves a lot to be desired. The liner notes are informative, if slightly unsatisfactory, but the real surprise is the sound. While the disc isn't *bad*, Sundazed uncharacteristically applies a lot of dynamic range compression to the program. Perhaps they worked from a very saturated copy tape? Whatever the reason, the Repertoire release ends up sounding a lot more relaxed than this one.Additionally, said Repertoire (German) CD of this disc adds several bonus tracks, most dating from the ill-fated Shell Shock sessions, that are just as good, if not better, than many of the tracks on the actual album! And since songs like "Can I Go On" and "The Owl" are not available on any of the Sundazed discs, you might as well get the Repertoire CD instead.Verdict: Odd little album, but if you've found yourself grooving to the Turtles from "Solid Zinc" or "20 Greatest Hits," I doubt you'll be disappointed. Get the Repertoire disc instead, though, as it's almost double the content for the same amount of money.Random note: Rhino heavily remixed this album in the mid-80s for release on their label. Both CDs currently available use the original mix (a blessing, as while the Rhino mix is interesting, it's *very* 80s, with a lot of near-mono and tons of digital reverb), although that version of "You Don't Have to Walk in the Rain" shows up on the Laserlight boxed-set of Turtles songs."
Why is this album out of print?
platypusrex256 | Vancouver, WA United States | 09/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"i adore this album. i've only listened to this album a couple times on vinyl and i've since been trying to find an affordable copy of it on cd because it is the turtles at their best. those of you who think you only want to listen to the best hits or are not very excited by the turtles should find a way to listen to this album because it's amazing. from the two twisted minds that played with frank zappa (eddie and flo) comes this wonderful pop band with undercurrents of insanity. how could you turn that down?"
Is it the good turtle soup or merely the mock?
Johnny Heering | Bethel, CT United States | 06/23/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This album hold the distiction of being the only non-Kinks rock album ever produced by Ray Davies. It is also the first Turtles album to feature all songs written by the group. Sad to say, the results are somewhat mixed. It seems like the group was unable to write a full album worth of good songs, and some pretty mediocre songs ended up being recorded. However, some of the songs are very good. "Love in the City" and "You Don't Have to Walk in the Rain" are particularly excellent. Two bonus tracks are included. "Lady-O" is a nice ballad that was the very last thing that the Turtles recorded. "The Last Thing I Remember" is an different version than the one included on the Battle of the Bands LP."