The Big 3 Featuring Mama Cass
The Big 3
Of course she wasnt Mama Cass Elliot when these tracks were recorded, so the albums title indicates this collection of pre-Mamas-and-Papas-era recordings was issued to cash in on the Mamas and the Papas popularity in 1968. The cover photo has always creeped me outTim Rose looks like an extra from Deliverance in a tux, Elliots hair, dress, and doily collar are just WRONG, and Jim Hendricks is equal parts mannequin and ventriloquists dummyand on this release its given a blue background and made even worse by the addition of a glow around them so that they look like some sci-fi experiment gone horribly wrong.
But as is always the case, all of this (and more) vanishes from the mind when Elliot starts singing. That is one great singer. The arrangements and material vary in quality but she is just phenomenal throughout.
Regarding those arrangements: I had the good fortune to correspond briefly with Bob Bowers regarding this version of Rider in the mid-2000s, as Id noted a solid similarity between it and the version of the song recorded by the Serendipity Singers in the same era and that his name appeared on both albums credits. He was in fact the arranger in both cases; to hear the two versions is fascinating, especially given the questionable subtext of the lyrics: plausibly trotted out by The Big 3 with their earthy electricity under a veneer of respectability, but a bit bizarre when it comes from the scrubbed-clean Serendipity Singers. I mean, really: Did you ever wake up and find your rider gone? sung by a pair of sweet songbird ladies? Reminds me of Billy Connollys criticism of kids on televised wanna-be-a-star shows: theres kids 12 years old singing Im gonna love you all night long. You havent even got pubic hair!
Comments © 2008 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.