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Papa Was a Rolling Stone

John Phillips' long-lost solo album features Mick and friends

August 18, 1998 12:00 AM ET

The World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band may be into its fourth decade of rocking, but thanks to the release of a solo album by the Mamas and the Papas founder John Phillips, it will soon be possible to experience the Stones -- and the Hall of Fame-inducted singer -- in all their mid-Seventies splendor.

According to Phillips, the album, titled Half Stoned, was recorded between 1976 and '79 with the full participation of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Mick Taylor and Ronnie Wood, and is set for release in September through Phillips' own Paramour Records. Although the songs and lead vocals are by John Phillips, the sound of classic Stones with Mick Taylor pervades the album.

"Mick [Jagger] and Keith produced the album," says Phillips from his Palm Springs home. "The production credit is 'The Glimmer Twins.' [They] were the real drive and thrust behind the album, and it was an unexpected kindness and friendship that they showed for me. The album was recorded for Atlantic Records, and Ahmet [Ertegun, the label's founder] didn't think it was right for us all to be on the same label, so he made me an offer ... and I bought the masters from him."

A publicist for the Rolling Stones says the band hadn't been approached regarding the tapes as of early last week. The group is on tour in Eastern Europe, and was unavailable for further comment. Ertegun's office, likewise, had no response regarding the record at press time.

Eight of the eleven tracks on the album feature the Stones. The original recordings range from heavy country-blues acoustic work-outs, such as "Oh Virginia," and "Just Fourteen" to all out rockers like "Mr. Blue" and "Zulu Warrior," which have a vague African feel that recall the Stones "Heartbreaker" period.

The recordings also feature Mick Taylor, who at the time was somewhat reluctant to record again with Jagger and Richards. "I was able to get Mick Taylor to come out of hiding," says Phillips. "He had quit the Rolling Stones a few years before, and they hadn't spoken to each other. I said, 'What the hell, come out and play. It's just music.' So he showed up, and it was a pretty tense situation for a while. We recorded 'Very Dread,' 'Oh Virginia' and some others. After Mick Taylor played a tremendous solo on 'Oh Virginia,' Keith turned to him and said, 'Now I know why I never liked you!'"

Phillips, who was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year along with surviving members of the Mamas and the Papas Denny Doherty and Michelle Phillips, is involved in a flurry of reissue activity. Along with Half Stoned, there are two items from Phillips' vault that are about to see the light of day in September. The first CD is Many Mamas and Papas, which will contain mostly studio tracks that were cut during late-Eighties and early-Nineties, when John revived the group along with Scott McKenzie, Spanky MacFarlane and original member Doherty. A new live CD recorded earlier this year, Mamas and the Papas, Live!, will also be released through Paramour this September.

Half Stoned will be available next month through www.mamasandpapas.com, a Web site currently under construction, as well as by toll free number (800-969-9956) and will cost $14.95. All three Mamas and Papas releases will also be available as a set, signed by Phillips, for $39.95. A Paramour spokesman says that retail distribution will begin within sixty days of the record's September release.

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