From the Stacks

From The Stacks: The Mama’s and the Papa’s, ‘If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears’

This one was one of my grail discs for many years. My very first records were hand me downs from my aunt, an eclectic collection that included albums by Elvis, the Beatles, Steppenwolf, the Standells, Sonny and Cher, and the Mama’s and the Papa’s. It only seemed appropriate that my first records became my very first Why It Matters story. The sight of Michelle Phillips in that bathtub still makes me feel fluttery near my banana seat.

The songs are great–who’s going to argue with “Monday Monday” and the majestic “California Dreamin'”– but what made this one an early object of my vinyl lust was that it was the first censored album cover that I was aware of. The version my aunt passed down (visible in the cover art linked above) was a later copy, but when the album was originally released in February 1966 it wasn’t the bathtub full of hippies that was considered offensive. No, the problem was the toilet next to the bathtub. Hide the children! They’ve never seen a toilet before!

For decades, the only way to see that offending toilet was to find an early pressing of the album, and in the days before the internet that meant specialty retailers. The price of the original pressing soared into the hundreds of dollars, even cracking the thousand dollar mark before a combination of online auction sites and a reprinting that restored the LP’s original artwork crashed the market.

When this copy showed up in my local record store, I snatched it up for around 50 bucks. If you want your own copy, expect to pay in the 75-100 dollar range, but there are still dealers out there convinced it’s worth much more than that, so be careful. Happy hunting.

 

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