The Turtles’ albums were good enough that it’s more than a little dismissive to stripe them as nothing but a singles band, but the band really did have a unique life on 45. It was not just a medium for them to rack up hits with the likes of “Happy Together”, “You Baby”, “She’d Rather Be With Me”, “Elenore”, and “You Showed Me”. It also allowed them to totally unfurl their freak flags as they took advantage of the B-sides to get really weird with things like the jungle movie tone poem “Umbassa the Dragon”, the asininely crooned “Rugs of Woods and Flowers”, and “Can’t You Hear the Cows?” Some of their less bizarre flips—“Chicken Little Was Right”, “Almost There”, “Come Over”—were every bit as good as the hits.
Since a lot of these songs did not appear on the LPs, a collection like The Turtles: All the Singles is necessary. Remember that some of The Turtles’ very best A-sides, such as the seething and jangling “Outside Chance”, the eerie and seductive “She’s My Girl”, and the unbelievably lovely “Lady-O”, weren’t on LPs. Sure, these songs appear on any “Greatest Hits” package worth its salt, but such collections won’t contain those bizarre flip-sides or such delectable oddities as the holiday single “Christmas Is My Time of Year” (covered by the reunited Monkees in 1976), the posthumous single “Why Would You Ever Think That I Would Marry Margaret?”, or a wealth of Turtle Soup tracks in mono. Plus, the liner notes with ample comments from the band are fab.