Band members Related acts
- Mason Williams
- vocals, guitar
- none known
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Company: Warner Brothers
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: white label promo copy
Catalog ID: 4119
Mason Williams is one of those artists who was condemned by his initial success. If you recognize the name, then 99% of the time you are going to associate him with 'Classical Gas' and perhaps have images of him hanging out with middle of the road celebrities like Glenn Campbell, The Smothers Brothers and Andy Williams. That raises the question where it is worth a lot of time or effort trying to describe Mason WIlliams LPs. You either love the guy's wacky mixture of styles, or you find it thoroughly boring.
1969's "Music" certainly won't change anyone's opinions. Overall it wasn't much different from his last couple of offerings. The album was full of instrumentals showcasing Williams' acoustic guitar over pretty, but heavily orchestrated melodies. Exemplified by the Western-inspired 'Cowboy Buckaroo' and 'Come To Me' the set offered up a couple more vocal performances than previous sets, but that was somewhat of a mixed blessing. Williams actually had a surprisingly accomplished voice, but he largely wasted his efforts on Roger Miller-styled goofiness like 'Bucko's Memories', 'J. Edgar Swoop' and 'A Major Thang.' Elsewhere, "La Chason de Claudine" was apparently inspired by Claudine Longet. That's not to say there weren't a couple of nice performances on William's fourth album. 'Greensleeves' sounded a lot like 'Classical Gas', but that was such a good track, it had the energy to carry this one. 'Come To Me' had a pretty melody and though it was sung by an anonymous chorus, was noteworthy for featuring some electric guitar. While I hated the Roger Miller-styled performance, 'A Major Thang' was at least pleasant.
"Music" track listing:
1.) Greensleeves (instrumental) (adapted by Mason Williams) - 2:45 rating: **** stars
I'll readily admit to having a soft spot in my heart for 'Classical Gas.' I'm apparently not alone which may explain why I like 'Greensleeves'. Musically the arrangements were very similar; William's instantly recognizable acoustic guitar with a pretty orchestral backing. That similarity may explain why the tune was tapped as the album's lead-off single:
- 1969's 'Greensleeves' b/w '$13 Stella' (Warner Brothers / Seven Arts catalog number 7272) YouTube has a performance of the song from an appearance on The Smother Brothers' television show. The censorship commentary was hysterical.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNOLJtN14TM
2.) Bucko's Memories (Mason Williams) - 2:20 rating: ** stars
'Bucko's Memories' was interesting for including some vocals. Williams had a nice enough voice, but it was wasted on this throw-away, banjo-propelled country tune.
3.) La Chason de Claudine (instrumental) (Mason Williams) - 4:08 rating: ** stars
Williams had a unique playing style and while it was instantly recognizable it also had a distinct "self life". Even with the addition of classical backing and some French-flavored accordion it started to sound familiar. Other than the fact Claudine Longet had recorded a mason Williams tune ('Wanderlust'), I have no idea what their relationship was.
4.) Come To Me (Mason Williams - Jim Yester) - 2:52 rating: **** stars
At least 'Come To Me' broke away from William's patented sound. Featuring a pretty chorus, the song featured a pretty, heavily orchestrated melody and some surprising electric guitar.
5.) Cowboy Buckaroo (Mason Williams) - 3:45 rating: *** stars
While 'Cowboy Buckaroo' wasn't something I gravitate to, there was no denying William's earnestness and affection for Western music. Not sure who accompanied him on the vocals, but they reminded me of Sons of the Pioneers.
1.) The Brothers Theme (instrumental) (Mason Williams - Nancy Ames) - 2:20 rating: ** stars
As head writer for The Smothers Brothers, Williams was responsible for many of the show's skits, along with the dialogue and much of the music. 'The Brothers Theme' sounded just like a television theme with a little nod to Roger Miller's 'King of the Road'.
2.) J. Edgar Swoop (Mason Williams) - 3:35 rating: ** stars
Social commentary ... Maybe it was funnier in 1969?
3.) Sunflower (instrumental) (Mason Williams) - 2:02 rating: **** stars
It takes a while for the main melody to kick in, but it's worth the wait. One of the album's prettiest songs.
4.) A Major Thang (Mason Williams) - 3:18 rating: **** stars
In spite of the country twang, 'A Major Thang' was one of the better songs. It could have been even better if Williams had avoided going down the Roger Miller school of cuteness. Shame he didn't play this one straight.
- 1969's 'A Major Thang' b/w 'A Gift of Song' (Warner Seven Arts catalog number 7301)
5.) A Gift of Song (Patty Ingles) - 4:30 rating: *** stars
The album's only non-original, 'A Gift of Song' was quite saccharine (particularly when the chorus kicked in), but in spite of myself, I'll admit it was pretty. This version is also different than the instrumental that appeared on the "Gift of Song" album.
Rating: ** (2 stars)
Title: The Mason Williams Listening Matter
Grade (cover/record): VG/VG
GEMM catalog ID:
In the wake of his sudden commercial successes via The Smother Brothers and "Classical Gas", Williams turned his attention to writing, releasing "The Mason Williams Reading Matter". More than willing to take advantage of the situation, the small Everest Records acquired rights to 1984's "Them Poems". Repackaged as "The Mason Williams Listening Matter", it featured a collection of his poems and personal musings. A live set, the album found Williams working solo through a series of brief comedy/musically pieces. Recorded in front of a small audience that sounded thoroughly stoned (they probably would have laughed at anything), none of these 20 efforts were particularly impressive. Sure, there were a couple of items worth a brief giggle (the 5 second "The Hors D'Oeuvers", the lispy "Sweet Someone", "The Moose Goosers" and "Them Doddle Dashers")). That said, to our ears most of these items sounded exactly alike. Imagine Roger Miller's catalog and you'll get a feel for this effort ...
"The Mason Williams Listening Matter"
1.) Introduction (Mason Williams) -
2.) The Sand Pickers (Mason Williams) -
3.) Them Sticker Gitters (Mason Williams) -
3.) The Toad Suckers (Mason Williams) -
4.) Them Banjo Pickers (Mason Williams) -
5.) Them Yodel Yellers (Mason Williams) -
6.) The Hors D'Oeuvers (Mason Williams) -
7.) You Done Stompt On My Heart (Mason Williams) -
8.) Them Whisker Flickers (Mason Williams) -
9.) Them Duck Pluckers (Mason Williams) -
10.) Them Ewe Doers (Mason Williams) -
11.) Sweet Someone (Mason Williams) -
12.) The Lunch Toters (Mason Williams) -
13.) Them Stamp Lickers (Mason Williams) -
14.) Them Dog Kickers (Mason Williams) -
15.) The Hog Liver Likers (Mason Williams) -
16.) The Moose Goosers (Mason Williams) -
17.) The Beaver Cleavers (Mason Williams) -
18.) Square Dance Call for the Affluent Society (Mason Williams) -
19.) The Tommy Gunners (Mason Williams) -
20.) Them Surf Serfs (Mason Williams) -
21.) Them Doodle Dashers (Mason Williams) -
Rating: ** (2 stars)
Title: Hand Made
Company: Warner Brothers
Catalog: WS 1838
Grade (cover/record): NM/NM
Comments: still in shrink wrap
GEMM catalog ID:
Backed by a full band, 1971's "Hand Made" found Williams returning to a more conventional format. Musically the album was somewhat schizophrenic. Tracks such as "Jose's Piece" and "Saturday Night At The World" featured "Classical Gas" styled instrumentals. (A streamlined "Classical Gas" was included here as well.) While the instrumental compositions were certainly pretty, they suffered from a certain MOR sensibility. Showcased Williams overlooked voice, material such as "I've Heard That Tear Stained Monologue" and "All The Time" offered up surprisingly entertaining country-rock outings. Elsewhere, "Reason To Believe" stood as one of Williams' prettiest melodies and should have been the LP's single (rather than the instrumental "Jose's Place"). Of course Williams had to include at least one of his trademarked goofball compositions - in this case "The Tomato Vendetta".
"Handmade" track listing:
1.) Jose's Piece
Williams) - 3:16
In case anyone cares, Williams has an interesting website located at:
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