This was the first hit for The Turtles, who had several more hits in the '60s, including the #1 "Happy Together
." Howard Kaylan of The Turtles explained how they came to record this in the Forgotten Hits newsletter: "When the Turtles first signed our original recording agreements with the tiny label that would become White Whale, we were all under the legal age of 18. Needless to say, the contracts required our parents' approval. This was all done before a judge in the county of Los Angeles who reviewed the paperwork about to be executed and told our parents that, "If you let your sons sign these papers, the court won't be responsible for the outcome. These are the worst contracts that I have ever seen." We didn't care. We wanted to make records and damn the consequences. So we signed. And our parents co-signed. And the judge had been right. It took many years and many thousands of dollars to win back our money and our self-respect. But, in the meantime, we had a record deal.
We had originally intended to break up our band, the Crossfires, on one particular evening in 1965, while playing our usual Friday night gig at the a teen club in Redondo Beach, California called the Revelaire. On my way upstairs with our resignation, two shady-looking entrepreneurs stopped me and asked if we were interested in making a record. They loved the way we sounded doing a cover of the new Byrds single (our guitarist had gone out and bought a 12-string guitar earlier that week) and thought that doing folk-rock was the key to our future.
It fell upon me to find the tunes to record. The Crossfires had been a surf band in high school, but together with a friend of ours, Betty McCarty, we had also done some folk singing as The Crosswind Singers. In fact, we opened a concert at Westchester High that starred the folk duo Joe and Eddie (a foreshadowing of things to come, many years before the names Flo and Eddie were to become our nom de plumes). I found Dylan's 'It Ain't Me Babe' on an album and, being blissfully unaware that anyone else had ever recorded it, thought that it would make a great rock song. So I literally 'lifted' the Zombies' approach to pop - a soft Colin Blunstone
-like minor verse bursting into a four-four major chorus a-la 'She's Not There
Both of the B-sides to 'It Ain't Me Babe' and 'Let Me Be' were songs that I had originally written for the Crosswind Singers and that we had performed with Joe and Eddie on that most auspicious of occasions. 'The Wanderin' Kind' sounded like a total Byrds cop. I wasn't ashamed then and I'm not ashamed now. It was all jangly guitars and travelin' boot-heels. But, in my defense, it was written well in advance of the Byrds records and, in fact, was a Dylan cop. Hey, we were all doing it. We never said that we were trend setters. Sometimes, the smart follower is perceived as a leader too. 'Almost There,' on the other hand, had nothing to do with the world of folk rock. In fact, if stolen from anyone, it would have to be called a Kinks-style rocker. The guitar lick intro and the incomprehensible "you gettum, boys" mumbled at the start of the solo were stone giveaways. The Turtles' career was always, somehow, intertwined with the that of the Kinks lasting all the way to our final album in 1970, Turtle Soup
, which Ray Davies, himself, produced." (Thanks to Kent at the Forgotten Hits newsletter.)