Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review: John Phillips - The Wolf King of L.A.

When it comes to musicians, I certainly pick the tragic cases.  John Phillips was the leader of the famous The Mamas & The Papas.  After the breakup of that group, John went solo.  He only made a few albums (and film soundtracks) while spiraling into a world of drug use, failed marriages and medical problems.  After his death of a heart attack, Phillips was even accused of incest by his daughter Mackenzie.  I won’t delve into that allegation but will instead concentrate on his finest musical moment – John, The Wolf King of L.A.

His first solo album was released in 1970.  Featuring the talents of the legendary Wrecking Crew, the best studio musicians in the business, the album has a country-tinged flavor that never misses a note.  John’s voice, though not the strongest, is smooth and pleasant.  The backup vocalists, The Blossoms, manage to cover any John’s vocal weakness.  Personally, I find his voice perfect for the material.

The lyrics have a dark edge to them – the words of a man suffering from the burdens of the world.  But behind the melancholy lyrics, this album is a catchy slow-burner.  It would have been a perfect The Mamas and the Papas album, besting anything they ever made before.  Go ahead and check it out.

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