The Turtles “Present the Battle of the Bands”

Battle of the Bands

One of their very best, the Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands was released in 1968 off the White Whale label. The concept is pretty clear for once, with the Turtles presenting a different band on each track (greasers, a country band, surf rock group, indian tribe, psychedelicists, and so forth). This makes for an eclectic listening experience for sure but somehow the band makes the album gel together quite well.

Battle of the Bands is the kind of record that would have been too eccentric for top 40 fans but not underground enough for diehard freaks. Perhaps this is why Battle of the Bands never found the audience it deserved. It’s a confusing, jarring album at first listen but eventually the band and their songs worm their way into your head like some strange, fatal disease. Elenore and You Showed Me (written by Gene Clark and Jim McGuinn) were big top 10 hits but very worthy in their own right, coloured by a sarcastic sense of humor and gorgeous harmonies. If anything, these tracks prove the Turtles had a genuine gift of melody and a knack for creating 60s commercial pop gold. Other tracks like the semi fuzz guitar instrumental Buzzsaw, the Beach Boys parody Surfer Dan, and the wild, banjo-fuelled Chicken Little Was Right are over the top quirky rockers that are muscially entertaining and overlooked highlights. Food reminds us of the Beach Boys’ Vegetables, a wacky, tuneful psychedelic track with a few primitive snyth stabs and lyrics that recite a brownie recipe. The album closes with an undisputed sunshine folk-pop classic, Earth Anthem, which stands out for its pretty horn arrangement, heavenly harmonies, and sparse accoustic guitars. Earth Anthem, also notable for its ecology theme, was supposedly recorded at 3:00 A.M. by candlelight, to capture the exact mood the Turtles wanted.

Battle of the Bands was a signpost to Flo & Eddie, and is an album where the band let loose creatively and showcased their unique brand of humor. It had all the ingredients that made the Turtles so great: lush melodies, flawless harmonies and fun, pop friendly sounds. The Turtles are one of rock’s most severely underrated groups and anyone doubting this should really consider outstanding early tracks like Grim Reaper of Love, She’ll Come Back, Wanderin’ Kind, Outside Chance, and She’s My Girl – all lost classics. Most of their catalog was reissued by Sundazed back in the early 90’s but has remained out of print for years. Original vinyl lp’s of Battle of the Bands are easy to score but a cd copy will cost you $50+.

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“Earth Anthem”

;) MP3 Album | download at amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1968 | White Whale | search ebay ]

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  • Being an huge fan of “Phosphorescent Leach and Eddie,” I did a little spin around in my chair, with accompanying yips of joy, over this post.
    Thanks much!

  • sixsevenfive

    Thanks so much for these – I was blown away, and listened to them many times without tiring of them.

    I would love to buy the album (on CD or mp3), but unfortunately Amazon mp3 is not available in my part of the world. Hopefully if the CD is re-issued (or if Amazon expands its availability), someone will mention it here.

    Thanks again!

  • Brendan

    To all: I apologize for our US-centric purchase links. I have researched technology to make the links IP specific, but not gotten very far with it. Hopefully soon.

    @sixsevenfive: Turtles Presents The Battle of the Bands is avail in the Australia iTunes store!

  • sixsevenfive

    @Brendan: Thanks for the iTunes tip.

    However, looking at Earth Anthem, not only is it only 1:36 in length in the iTunes store (compared to the 4:00 track you have available for download), it’s in a different key to yours, too, pitched slightly lower and slower. I paid for and downloaded it anyway, and it ends abruptly, after the first verse.

    I would have assumed that something went wrong with my download, but there it is in the iTunes store, 1 minute and 36 seconds long. Strange.

  • sixsevenfive

    iTunes has acknowledged that there is a problem with the track I downloaded and, having refunded my payment, is investigating the matter.

    However, the offending track is still available for purchase, so I caution purchasers to beware when downloading Earth Anthem (or indeed the album as a whole).

    There is a full version of The Turtles’ Earth Anthem available at iTunes on the compilation album Go Green.

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