Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Mason Williams Phonograph Record
Genres: Folk, New Age, Pop, Rock, Classical
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Classical Gas but not Classic Mason Williams
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 10/01/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It is ironic that the biggest detriment to Mason Williams as a singer-songwriter is Mason Williams himself. I picked up this CD so that I could listen to "Classical Gas" whenever the mood struck me. The only other song I tend to listen to is "Baroque-A-Nova," probably because I remember having both songs on 45s in the olden days. There are a couple of other songs I like on the album, not when they are sung by Mason Williams, but rather when they are sung by the Smothers Brothers, for whom Williams was a major contributor. The Brothers Smothers recorded both "Long Time Blues" and the "Life Song," while Dick Smothers did a wonderful solo of "Wanderlove" on "The Smothers Brothers Play It Straight." There is also one song, "The Prince's Panties," which serves as a reminder that Williams wrote a lot of comic songs, which may well have been his true forte.I think the rationale for my preference is threefold. First, Mason Williams does not have a distinguishable voice or a singer's feel for his own music, which may well be why his instrumental pieces are his "biggest hits." Second, his songs work better when sung by more than one person, which is why they work so well for the Smothers Brothers (a good example would be a Williams song not on this album that the boys did, "The Three Song"). Third, producer Mike Post served neither the singer nor his songs well on this album. But if this is your one chance to have your own copy of "Classical Gas," then that is reason enough (Remember when the Smothers Brothers came back to TV and Williams played it on a clear guitar that had fishing swimming around inside?)."
An eclectic classic for the eclectic listener
Steve Dallas | 05/14/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've known and enjoyed this album since childhood. Texan Mason Williams combines elements of folk, pop and country with a refined classical air, a measured amount of humor and the backing of a 45-member orchestra, making this album thoroughly enjoyable during its all-too-brief running time of 30 minutes. It starts off with an overture of the album's themes, then jumps to the snappy "All the Time", a "goodbye song" with an attitude. After the admittedly pointless (but forgivable, being only half a minute) "Dylan Thomas" comes "Wanderlove", an eloquent lovesong evoking the giddy and poetic beginnings of marriage. "She's Gone Away" is another snappy "goodbye song", this time from the perspective of the dumpee. Williams' overdubbed harmonies give this one extra power. "Here Am I" was described by Williams as "my way of doing Shakespeare today", and it does indeed bring the Bard in a comtemporary setting to mind. Noteworthy is the complicated job of mixing someone must have had to make this unique song work. The immortal instrumental "Classical Gas" is the reason many have bought this album, and it's certainly worth the purchase price by itself. This original version is far superior to the one Williams did 20 years later with Mannheim Steamroller, as the latter all but obscured the melody with a too-loud backup and only one guitar instead of the original's overdubbed twin guitars. "Long Time Blues" is an appealing country-pop song of heartbreak, "Baroque-a-Nova" is a sixtyish scat-instrumental which has a fun feel, and the looney "The Prince's Panties" is one chapter of a five-part musical Williams wrote but never released all of in one piece (Another appears on his 1968-1971 collection.). "Life Song" is a simple but profound half-minute pause for refreshment, then "Sunflower" (a musical take on a real-life sunflower Williams commissioned to be created by a skywriter) is a somber and beautiful instrumental to close the album. Alas, Mr. Williams, while providing great quality, only gives us half an hour of enjoyment, so I cannot give this album five stars. True, shorter albums were more the norm in the sixties, but you'd have hoped that an "expanded edition", with more of Williams' creations, might have been offered by Warner Brothers in the era of the CD."
Mason Williams: a post-modern composer in '68?
gesegnet | 12/29/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's so great to see that there are others who appreciate the works of this master of many styles. Mason Williams' album is one of those few which reflect real knowledge-- not only of how to write a good song, but of what music is and has been in the past. I consider most of his pieces modern composition, not just songs. Consider "All the Time," which is in ABA form, not the standard rock/blues form of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus. It is also vocally demanding, and, despite the catchy rock beat and "leaving my girl" message, it is closer musically to art song than to pop music. Williams' voice is a beautiful, light high baritone, which shows signs of at least some vocal study. And yet, like the best of all music, each track has a vitality which is immediately appealing to anyone willing to give it their full attention. Consider "Here Am I," a simple, strophic song with a gorgeous melody and hyper-romantic lyrics. He uses everything we expect to hear against us by constantly surprising us from measure to measure. Is it recitative? Arioso? Is he just taking his time? And what on earth is that little pizzicato string bit doing in the middle of the song? Who knows? Who cares? It's really cool. Just go with it. That said, there are a few minor weaknesses in the album; Williams can move our souls, he can make us laugh, he can make us think, or he can be a bit bland. The overture is necessary as an introduction, giving us a chance to sit back, relax, and focus on what we're listening to. But it doesn't go anywhere, and it doesn't really stand alone as a song. Williams didn't write it anyway, so it's okay to ignore it. "She's Gone Away," Williams says, "is my Rock Tune. I don't know what I'm saying, but it sounds good." That's very accurate-- the lyrics are obtuse, the melody stupid and forgettable, but it's catchy, and it sounds oddly like a lot of other songs from the late 60's. "Long Time Blues" is "more where I'm at. Which is from Texas." Hopefully, Williams isn't there anymore, because this is basically a bad country song. Other than that, this is a wonderful album. "Life Song" sums it up perfectly in 27 seconds: "Isn't life beautiful? Isn't life gay? Isn't life the perfect thing to pass the time away?""