While legal battles over pre-1972 recordings wind their way through the courts, one of the artists taking the lead on whether copyright owners have exclusive performance rights over those older tracks is making it easier for fans to hear their music. The Turtles, whose hits include "Happy Together" and "She'd Rather Be With Me," have announced a career-spanning box set that will feature the band's six long-out-of-print albums.
Arriving Aug. 19 on the group's FloEdCo label, in association with Manifesto Records, The Complete Original Albums Collection will have everything the group released between 1965 and 1970: It Ain't Me Babe, You Baby, Happy Together, The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands, Turtle Soup and Wooden Head. An aptly titled 2-CD collection called All the Singles is also being prepped and contains… all the band's singles, plus the b-sides, of every 45 they released on original label White Whale.
Both sets have ben prepared from the original master tapes by engineer Bill Inglot, who helped uncover and digitize scores of older tracks during his long tenure at Rhino Entertainment. Archivist Andrew Sandoval is handling the sure-to-be-extensive liner notes, which the band believes will offer "unique insight into one of rock's most misunderstood bands."
"We were thought of as a hit-making machine, but buried in there was a very thought-provoking group," Turtles co-founder Mark Volman said. "We really cared about what was going on [but] we were never really afforded the credibility of bands like the Byrds." Volman added that The Turtles were "making records that made it to the radio, but were still challenging and adventurous records. Experimental, but at the same time full of commerciality. The Turtles were really walking on a fine edge."
Volman and fellow Turtle Howard Kaylan, who currently perform as a duo Flo and Eddie, filed a series of class-action lawsuits against SiriusXM Radio in 2013, arguing that since federal copyright law only protects sound recordings made after 1972, states should act to further protect works authored before then. In September 2014, a California judge sided with Flo & Eddie in their case against SiriusXM, and two months later a New York judge issued a similar ruling, signaling the satellite broadcaster’s liability for publicly performing sound recordings without authorization and compensation. The cases of pre-1972 recording are now in the hands of various appeals courts.