Mama Cass – Dream A Little Dream

Artist: Mama Cass
Title:Dream A Little Dream
Released: 1968
Label: Dunhill
Format: Vinyl
Musicians: Cass Elliot – vocals, Hal Blaine – drums, Harvey Brooks – bass guitar
James Burton – guitar, dobro, Cyrus Faryar – guitar, ukulele, Renais Faryar – vocals on “The Room Nobody Lives In” and “Rubber Band”, Jim Gordon – drums, Paul Harris – organ, piano, Brenda Holloway – backing vocals, Plas Johnson – saxophone, Larry Knechtel – keyboards, John Sebastian – guitar, harmonica, John Simon – piano, arrangements, Stephen Stills – guitar, vocals
Producer: John Simon

Dream a Little Dream is the debut solo album by singer Mama Cass immediately after the breakup of The Mamas & the Papas, though she was still billed as “Mama Cass” for this release. Capitalizing on the success of her first solo song as the album’s title, it was released on October 19, 1968 by Dunhill Records.

From Wikipedia: Cass Elliot had agreed to a three-album deal as a solo artist with Dunhill Records less than a month after her split with the Mamas & the Papas.
Elliot chose John Simon as producer to help her steer the album. She had liked his work with The Band and found him to be the perfect person to work with. Both Elliot and Simon agreed that this would be her album and Simon was keen on allowing her the chance to choose her own material and to shine on her own. *Editor’s note: Mama Cass was a multi-faceted singer and could handle just about anything. The material she choose here was not a problem, but the way it was recorded was an issue in my opinion. The album contains touches of country, blues, rock, jazz, gospel, and bluegrass.

You will undoubtedly recognize some of the names listed in the Musicians list: Hal Blaine and Larry Knechtel were part of the “Wrecking Crew” and then there are John Sebastian and Stephen Stills whom we all know.

Sadly and somewhat a surprise from Dunhill, not to mention Wally Heider studios, this LP was recorded hot. Part of the reason was that the album was recorded in no more than ten days at Wally Heider’s studios. Instead of spending countless hours doing retakes as she had done with the Mamas & the Papas, she recorded almost every song live. However, even back then they could have done a better job of it. There is a lot of clipping distortion throughout. I have far better pressings from Dunhill on other albums. Also there are parts where the sound effects begin to sound like one is listening to a Spike Jones album, only not funny.

Side #1
“Dream a Little Dream of Me” (Wilbur Schwandt, Fabian Andre, Gus Kahn) – This track starts with a thunderstorm sound effect and then is sung a-cappella for the first measure. From here things turn sour.
“California Earthquake” (John Hartford) – A static DJ announcement is the segue into this track which is kind of a groove style. What is interesting to note is the lyrics, which allow one to realize that “the big one” is an older story then we think.
“The Room Nobody Lives In” (John Sebastian) – This is a ballad, but unfortunately the disturbing sound effects continue.
“Talkin’ to Your Toothbrush” (John Simon) – This song has a Country feel to it.
“Blues for Breakfast” (Richard Manuel) – This song is styled in old time rock and roll
“You Know Who I Am” (Leonard Cohen) – This is done as a ballad with a gospel flair

Side #2
“Rubber Band” (Cyrus Faryar) – This song is more a march than anything else as the Spike Jones sound effects continue.
“Long Time Loving You” (Stuart Scharf) – This may be the only semi OK song on the whole LP, which is a sixties style pop feel.
“Jane, The Insane Dog Lady” (John Simon) – This song is another country flavored tune with sound effects.
“What Was I Thinking Of” (Leah Cohen) – This is a ballad/Blues style tune and finally without so much sound effects
“Burn Your Hatred” (Graham Nash) – Another Country style song and nothing impressive.
Sweet Believer” (Cyrus Faryar) – This one is a standard ballad.

Sadly, due to the sound effects and more so, the poor sound quality in the recording and pressing I can only give this LP two and a half stars and that is on the generous side.

Simon & Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Artist: Simon & Garfunkel
Genre: Folk, Folk-Rock
Title: Bridge Over Troubled Waters
Label: Columbia
Format: Vinyl
Musicians: Paul Simon – lead vocals, acoustic guitar, percussion, Art Garfunkel – lead vocals, percussion, Los Incas – Peruvian instruments, Joe Osborn – bass guitar, Larry Knechtel – piano, Hammond organ, electric piano, Fred Carter, Jr. – acoustic & electric guitars, Peter Drake – Dobro, pedal steel guitar, Hal Blaine – drums, percussion, Jimmie Haskell and Ernie Freeman – strings, Jon Faddis, Randy Brecker, Lew Soloff & Alan Rubin – brass, Unknown – Woodwinds, Buddy Harman – percussion, Bob Moore – double bass
Producer:Roy Halee
Engineer: Roy Halee

Bridge over Troubled Water is the fifth and final studio album by American folk rock duo Simon & Garfunkel, released in January 1970 on Columbia Records (Several re-releases followed). Following the duo’s soundtrack for The Graduate, Art Garfunkel took an acting role in the film Catch-22, while Paul Simon worked on the songs, writing all tracks except Felice and Boudleaux Bryant’s “Bye Bye Love” (previously a hit for the Everly Brothers).

From Wikipedia: With the help of producer Roy Halee, the album followed a similar musical pattern as their Bookends, partly abandoning their traditional style in favor of a more creative sound, combining rock, R&B, gospel, jazz, world music, pop and other genres. After filming Catch-22, Garfunkel returned and the duo recorded around 14 tracks, three of which were not featured in the album. The inclusion of a 12th track was long discussed but they eventually decided upon 11 songs. It was described as both their “most effortless record and their most ambitious.”
The album was mixed and released in both stereo and quadraphonic. Columbia Records released a 40th Anniversary Edition on March 8, 2011, which includes two DVDs, including the politically themed TV special Songs of America (1969), the documentary The Harmony Game, additional liner notes and a booklet. Other reissues contain bonus tracks, such as the 2001 version, which covers the demo tapes of “Feuilles-O” and “Bridge over Troubled Water”.

Despite numerous accolades, the duo decided to split up, and parted company later in 1970; Garfunkel continued his film career, while Simon worked intensely with music. Both released solo albums in the following years. Bridge includes two of the duo’s most critically acclaimed and commercially successful songs, “Bridge over Troubled Water” and “The Boxer”. Both critically and commercially successful, the album topped the charts in over ten countries and received two Grammy Awards, plus four more for the title song.  Continue reading

Carole King – Tapestry

Artist:Carole King
Title: Tapestry
Released: 1971
Genre: Singer-Songwriter
Label:Ode Records (A&M)
Musicians:Carole King – piano, keyboards, vocals, background vocals
Additional musicians, Curtis Amy – flute; baritone, soprano, and tenor saxophone; string quartet, Tim Powers – drums, David Campbell – cello, viola, Merry Clayton – background vocals, Terry King – cello, tenor saxophone, string quartet
Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar – acoustic guitar, conga, electric guitar, vocals
Russ Kunkel – drums, Charles “Charlie” Larkey – bass guitar, string bass, string quartet
Joni Mitchell – background vocals, Joel O’Brien – drums, Ralph Schuckett – electric piano, Barry Socher – violin, tenor saxophone, viola, string quartet, Perry Steinberg – bass guitar, violin, tenor saxophone, string bass, James Taylor – acoustic guitar, backing vocals, Julia Tillman – background vocals
Producer:Lou Adler
Engineer:Hank Cicalo
Mastering Engineer: Vic Anesini

Carole King is an American composer and singer-songwriter.
King’s career began in the 1960s when she, along with her then husband Gerry Goffin, wrote more than two dozen chart hits for numerous artists, many of which have become standards. Continue reading