Monday, July 25, 2016

Dunhill Records: Monday, Monday

During 1965, Dunhill Records signed one of their biggest acts, The Mama’s and the Papas. This new vocal group was led by John Phillips who, along with his wife Michelle, had been in the folk group The New Journeyman.

Enter Denny Doherty and later Cass Elliot from the Mugwamps and this new group spent several months in the Virgin Islands honing their craft and working out the intricate harmonies that made them successful and became the inspiration for a half a dozen other popular vocal groups.

Brought to Dunhill by their friend Barry McGuire, the band was signed by Lou Adler. Their first single, “Go Where You Want to Go,” was released to radio in November 1965, but there is no evidence that this debut single ever was released commercially. If so, it failed to chart in any trade publications.

While I’m speculating here, it may be that Adler felt that “California Dreamin’” was a better selection for the public as winter was approaching and it was released on the heels of  “Go Where You Want to Go” with the same picture sleeve photo.  Since they were an unknown act at the time, it took a couple months for radio to gravitate towards the song – plus releasing a new artist before the Christmas holiday was not wisest decision. But it eventually became the first their of several top 10 hits.  It also was certified as a gold record.

“California Dreamin’s” follow-up, “Monday, Monday,” is today’s selection. Why? It’s Monday. This was the band’s most popular song. It was their only #1 record, second of two gold singles, and it won the Grammy for best pop vocal by a duo or group.

Having grown up with the mono version on AM radio – the place where we used to hear the hits – I find it difficult to listen to Lou Adler’s stereo mix on this song. I know, this is how many records (ad nauseam) were mixed for stereo – put the back-up vocals on one side, the instruments on the other, and if you’re lucky the lead vocal might be in the middle.

However, a good many records had all the vocals to one side. I think there was an unwritten principle that this practice illustrated the aural width of a recording – let’s get as much separation as possible and it might sound live. I am certainly glad that by the late 60s, this practice began to wane. The instrumentation for this song was provided by The Wrecking Crew, a loose collection of LA studio musicians who played on a bazillion records and who had a fluid line-up. John Phillips sang lead on this number.

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