People Like Us is the fifth and final studio album released by The Mamas & the Papas, in November 1971 (three years after the group originally split). This album came to be because the former members of the group were still under contract with Dunhill Records. The group had originally been signed to the label when it was run by their original producer Lou Adler, but by 1971, Dunhill’s distributor, ABC Records, had purchased the label and discovered the clause in the group’s original contract. According to their contract, the group had to produce one more album, or else be in breach of contract and subject to possible fines. Although the album has some memorable songs, it is considered a disappointment by fans and critics. Nevertheless, the album sold moderately well. (#84 on the Billboard Pop Albums Chart.) It was produced by John Phillips. Michelle Phillips wrote later in the liner note of a Mamas & Papas CD compilation that the album “sounded like what it was, four people trying to avoid a lawsuit”.
All tracks except “I Wanna Be a Star” (co-written by Michelle) were written by John, making People Like Us The Mamas and the Papas’ only entirely self-written and produced album. Some of the lyrics refer to John’s romance at the time with actress Geneviève Waïte, whom he married in 1972.
Tracks include “Pearl”, a tribute to singer Janis Joplin, the single “Step Out” (#81 Billboard Hot 100, #25 Adult Contemporary) and the title track which is the last song the group ever recorded. Due reportedly to the illness of Cass Elliot during the sessions, most lead vocals are handled by Denny Doherty and Michelle, and while present and audible on certain tracks, Elliot does not feature prominently on the album.
People Like Us was reissued on MCA Records and Geffen Records.