It is rather amazing how many folk-rock groups from the Sixties put out great debut albums and then never got to that same height ever again. The Byrds put out six stellar albums before they imploded, but they were always in a whole different league when it came to folk-rock, but for every rare exception to the rule like Buffalo Springfield (whose second album was their best), the standard history was more like the Beau Brummels and the Lovin' Spoonful where the first album, in this case "Do You Believe in Magic," was as good as it was going to get. I know there are inherent reasons for this, the main one being that the first album usually represents the best songs culled from two or three albums worth of materials that a group has in their repertoire when they sign a recording contract.
"Do You Believe in Magic" gets to be the album's title simply because the title track had already been a major hit of the summer of 1965. John Sebastian establishes the group's happy sound with the album's other bit hit, "Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind" and "Younger Girl." Sebastian was obviously the group's major talent, mainly because he was the one writing the songs, while the rest of the album were peppy versions of traditional songs such as "Blues in the Bottle" and "Wild About My Lovin'', which tend to remind me of an old fashioned jug band (again, totally in keeping the Lovin' Spoonful's happy happy sound).
I probably would give this 1965 album (originally released on the Kama Sutra label in a nice touch of irony) five stars but one of the great things about all these CD reissues is that they go back and raid the vaults to see what else they can find. On "Do You Believe in Magic" this means the demo version of "Younger Girl," alternate vocals for "Blues in the Bottle" and "Wild About My Lovin'," an instrumental version of "Other Side of This Life," and a fun little cover of the novelty hit "Alley Oop."