JOHN PHILLIPS: Pussycat [Varese Sarabande]

Anybody expecting this unreleased session by the man who assembled the heavenly vocal blend of the Mamas And The Papas to sound anything like that beloved combo is doomed to disappointment. Without the pipes of Cass Elliott, Michelle Phillips and Denny Doherty, you’re left with John Phillips’ rather ordinary voice singing self-penned tunes (“Zulu Warrior,” “She’s Just 14”) that sound like they were fished from the Rolling Stones’ rag bag. Not surprising, as these 1976-77 Jagger/Richards-produced sessions feature guitar work by Mick Taylor and Ron Wood. Only “Sunset Boulevard” has the self-assured vibe of Phillips’ excellent 1970 solo debut, The Wolf King Of L.A. Bonus material: Five unreleased tracks have been added, including “Don’t Turn Back Now (World’s Greatest Dancer),” which finds Phillips hopelessly lost and attempting a Tom Jones-style production number. An instrumental version of Ricky Nelson’s ”Hello Mary Lou,” an outtake from the soundtrack sessions for 1976 David Bowie film The Man Who Fell To Earth, is glammed up beyond recognition by Mick and Keith. []

—Jud Cost