The Mason Williams Ear Showby Mason Williams
Mason Williams' quick follow-up to The Mason Williams Phonograph Record hosts even more musicians, this time Hal Blaine providing all the drums under the production of Dick Glasser, who replaces Mike Post, though Post appears to co-produce the final track, "Saturday Night at the World," with Glasser. The resulting product, The Mason Williams Ear Show, emerged not as a sequel but an elaborate companion piece with even more quirkiness, including a stunning remake of "Baroque-a-Nova," a track from the previous disc allegedly written for Simon & Garfunkel to perform on The Smothers Brothers. Here "Baroque-a-Nova" is arranged again by the great Al Capps, the jingle sounding instrumental, feeling like a "Classical Gas" redux (the earlier version having backing vocals, this equally excellent rendition simply an instrumental). Mike Post had produced and arranged Williams' biggest hit, so Mason and Capps give the formula another go. The liner notes proclaim what Lou Reed would reiterate five years later with his "film for the ear" classic Berlin: "This is, Mason declares, a phonograph record that can be seen as well as heard." A 60-second "One Minute Commercial" was said to have been commissioned by an ad agency for a potential Bank of America advertisement, the tongue-in-cheek liners stating: "The agency didn't get the job but Mason was paid $4,000. He later figured that any tune with that kind of price tag ought to be recorded." Funny stuff and stacks of information to read through while listening to this epic adventure. Outside of the blatant attempt to recapture the excitement of "Classical Gas" on "Baroque-a-Nova" the second, the rest of the album is far too out-there to have had serious dreams of Top 40 airplay. "Generatah-Oscillatah" could be Robert Moog's worst nightmare, Dr. West's Medicine Show merging with the New Vaudeville Band on the famed equipment created by the genius -- Moog, not Williams. Pianist Mike Melvoin is producing and arranging while at the electronic keyboard Paul Beaver is found "plugging and unplugging" the synthesizer. They claim it took 12 hours of "actual recording time to come up with the two minutes and forty-five seconds on the record" -- and the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" it is not. But The Mason Williams Ear Show is a pretty impressive collection of thoughts -- Frank Zappa in the material world -- and works well next to the creative author's earlier release. There are duets with Smothers Brothers singer Jennifer Warren, who would later become Jennifer Warnes, famous for "Right Time of the Night," "Up Where We Belong," and other hits. She's listed here as "Triskelion vocalist," photographer/critic Robert Barry Francos noting that, when merely known as Jennifer, she covered "Saturday Night at the World" from this disc on her 1969 Al Capps-produced Parrot release, See Me, Hear Me, Touch Me, Feel Me.
- Release Date:
- Real Gone Music
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