Tina Mason: Is Something Wonderful

Little known Capitol vocalist’s 1967 LP

Tina Mason’s lone album for Capitol, recorded under the direction of David Axelrod and featuring arrangements by HB Barnum, was mostly overlooked at the time of its 1967 release. Mason started singing at Disneyland with Tina and the Mustangs, and had a regular gig on TV’s Where the Action Is. She fit into the groove cut by singers like Dusty Springfield, Jackie DeShannon, Nancy Wilson and Dionne Warwick, and the Axelrod/Barnum team created sophisticated pop-soul backings for her. Mason draws from a variety of sources, including the dramatic spoken delivery of the Shangri-Las’ Mary Weiss, breezy blue-eyed soul and stagey pop. She covers “Cry Me a River” with more attitude and less tears than Julie London’s earlier hit, with the band pushing the tempo and the background singers adding verbal accents. The rising arrangement of “You Can Have Him,” reworking Roy Hamilton’s “You Can Have Her,” yields a stirring climax, and the closing cover of Kathy Kirby’s “The Way of Love” adds a spark that Cher would remove in her 1971 hit. The album’s eleven tracks are fleshed out on this reissue with two pre-LP singles, including the Motown-styled “Smokey Joe’s” and a take on Chip Taylor’s “Any Way That You Want me” that’s similar to Evie Sands’ better known recording. Also included are a mono single mix of “Are You There” and a vintage interview segment. This isn’t quite a lost classic, but it’s a nice time capsule. [©2010 hyperbolium dot com]

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