ALBUM: "Carolyne Mas" Mercury Records, July 1979

Carolyne Mas

Side One 1. Stillsane 2. Sadie Says (C. Mas/D. Landau) 3. Snow 4. It's No Secret 5. Call Me (Crazy To)

Side Two 1. Quote Goodbye Quote (C. Mas/D. Landau) 2. Never Two Without Three 3. Do You Believe I Love You 4. Sittin' In The Dark (C. Mas/D. Landau) 5. Baby Please

All songs written by Carolyne Mas except as noted.

Produced by Steve Burgh for Actual Music.

Carolyne Mas: lead & background vocals, electric guitar, piano on "Call Me." David Landau: lead electric & acoustic guitar, background vocals on "Quote Goodbye Quote." Robbie Kondor: keyboards. Crispin Cioe: saxophones. John Siegler: bass. Andy Newmark: drums. Steve Burgh: tambourine & synthesizer. Jimmy Maelen: percussion on "Snow" & "Sittin' In The Dark." Bernie Shanahan: background vocals on "Sadie Says" & "Call Me." Recorded at A&R Studios, New York City. Cover photo by Elliot Landy.

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REVIEW: shortcuts (DAILY RECORD, NORTHWEST N.J.) August 26, 1979

Jim Bohen

CAROLYNE MAS Mercury SRM-1-3783

Last spring I was tuning across late-night radio when I stumbled on an interview with Carolyne Mas, someone I'd never heard of. It developed that she'd been performing at the Other End in New York and was becoming known in Greenwich Village folk circles. The announcer put on a tape of her music and I settled back, expecting some acoustic guitar sounds suitable to a 2 a.m. radio show.

Instead the tape turned out to be loud, raucous rock 'n' roll. Mas was singing in front of a huge, blaring band, with a honking, sneezing saxophone player sharing the front line with her. There were three songs on the tape, and when it was over both the announcer and, I would imagine, late-night audiences were wiped out.

That was March. Mas went on and signed a record contract, did some local concerts that got her a lot of good press, toured the Northeast, and finally recorded this album. The best parts of it are as exciting as that tape was.

Comparisons to Bruce Springsteen are appropriate. Not only does saxophonist Crispin Cioe drive the uptempo songs in the manner of Springsteen's Clarence Clemons, but David Landau, brother of Springsteen's producer-manager Jon Landau, is on hand as lead guitarist and co-writer of three songs.

Furthermore, producer Steve Burgh (in a radical departure from his work on Steve Forbert's album) uses the Phil Spector kitchen-sink style that Springsteen brought into the '70s on 'Born To Run.' Burgh makes Mas's six-piece band sound two or three times that size, emphasizing the beat with massed percussion instruments and handclapping (hear the chorus of 'Quote Goodbye Quote') and turning background voices into a dimly heard whine in the general storm.

The technique works wonderfully on rockers like 'Quote Goodbye Quote,' and 'Stillsane.' Mas rises to each occasion by taming the arrangements with her strident voice, and by throwing in semi-humorous or ironic lyrics that deflate the pretensions of the whole production. But her ballads don't fare as well. On 'Snow,' for example, she sounds more like Melissa Manchester than Bruce Springsteen, and both that song and 'Call Me' are much too serious for their own good. On neither does she sound as though she's having any fun.

But that's only because that is the way she sounds on everything else. My absolute favorite is 'Sadie Says,' which is tender, loving, funny and rocking, and has a great instrumental hook as well. Sadie, who 'is older and knows more than I do,' assures the singer not to worry about trouble at home, trouble in school, and other adolescent miseries. 'I believe what Sadie says is right,' concludes Mas on the chorus, sounding like the ghost of the Shangri-las, or some other '60s girl group.

I'm told that this record only approximates Mas' live show. Those interested can see her at the Fast Lane in Asbury Park tonight. But if you can't have Carolyne Mas in person, her record's a fine company on its own.

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REVIEW: Rockettes (MUSICIAN) November 1979

Vic Garbarini

Caroline Mas - (Mercury). Mas is the most talented and compelling American singer-songwriter to emerge since Bruce Springsteen, and this is her 'Born To Run.' She pumps more heart and soul into her superbly crafted three-minute pop anthems than anybody I've heard in years. Listen to desperate yet defiant hope in 'Still Sane,' as if she had to prove the song's premise with every breath. 'Musician: P&L's' own Cris Cioe contributes some classic Memphis fatback sax, and hat's off to producer Steve Burgh for his rich and vibrant production.

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REVIEW: Carolyne Mas: Sheer Moxie (HIGH FIDELITY) November 1979

Steven Rea

Carolyne Mas Steve Burgh, producer Mercury SRM 1-3783

Recent years have witnessed the rise of a whole new breed of women rockers: tough, independent singer/songwriters who've assumed stances previously reserved almost exclusively for male performers. To wit, the beatnik punkism of Patti Smith, the ballsy blues swagger of Rickie Lee Jones, the quirky eccentricity of Stiff Records' Lene Lovich, and the out-and-out rock mettle evinced by the likes of Cindy Bullens, Carlene Carter, Rachel Sweet (a late-'70's street version of Brenda Lee), the Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde, and Suzi Quatro. The days of the demure, soft-spoken singer/songwriter are on the wane, as women take to shaping their own personas.

Carolyne Mas, a twenty-four-year-old Bronxville, New York, native, has been heralded by the New York press (and her record company) as the 'female Bruce Springsteen.' While it's unfair to burden any artist with such a weighty--and altogether silly--comparison, some similarities exist; most notable a big, throaty voice, a dramatic preforming sensibility, and her songs' arrangements. Steve Burgh, who produced Steve Forbert's excellent debut, 'Alive on Arrival,' and David Landau, an itinerant guitarist on Jackson Browne and Warren Zevon tours, have framed Mas's zealously upbeat rock numbers in an expertly exuberant if somewhat familiar Springsteen-like setting. Crispin Cioe's saxophone runs resonate with the same vim and vigor that mark Clarence Clemons' reed work with Springsteen. Burgh has even re-created the 'Born to Run' Spectorish wall of sound--John Siegler's bass and Andy Newmark's drums surge with keen, kinetic unity, while keyboardist Robbie Kondor alternately pounds, pushes, and paces Mas's melodies along.

But when it comes down to it, Mas, who plays electric guitar and piano, has little in common with Springsteen's road-and-romance street-smart sagas. The cover photograph presents a diminutive, dark-eyed young lady attired in scarf, top hat, and black jacket more appropriate for a day at the polo grounds than for any back-alley rendezvous. And the New Yorker's themes are far more introverted and self-directed than Springsteen's. On 'Stillsane' (reminiscent in its chorus of Carl Carlton's hit 'Everlasting Love') she attempts a reaffermation of her sanity in the face of a fragmented relationship. 'Sadie Says,' which has all the earmarks of a Top 40 single (one of three tracks written with guitarist Landau), sports the emphatic chorus: 'Sadie says, Boy don't you worry Sadie says it's going to be alright Sadie is older and knows more than I do And I believe what Sadie says is right'

Here, Mas grapples with an alter ego/imaginary friend in order to come to grips with the real world. Whether intentional or not, her true rock & roll colors are revealed on the opening verse of 'It's No Secret,' which resides in close musical proximity to the Yardbirds classic 'Shapes of Things.'

Mas sings in the succinct, precise phrases of a trained vocalist, which, in fact, she is, having studied at the American Music and Dramatic Academy and performed with the Light Opera of Manhattan. An educated larynx sometimes runs counter to rock's gritty spontaneity, and to her credit she manages to bypass that dilemma, succeeding even among the spirited, handclapping street gang shouts of 'Quote Goodbye Quote.'

She isn't all high-energy rock & roll. 'Snow,' a midtempo swell guided by Kondor's piano and Landau's tense, sparse guitar, walks a stylistic line between the dirgelike incantations of Patti Smith and the bellowing pop chanting of Barbra Streisand. 'Call Me (Crazy To)' calls to mind Carly Simon's level-voiced narrative compositions.

'Carolyne Mas' is by no means a flawless work. A few selections are buried on Side 2 as the deserve to be: She struggles to make sense (and fails) in 'Never Two Without Three,' while 'Do You Believe I Love You' suffers from a frantic, grating quality, and 'Sittin' in the Dark' just flails around in search of a distinctive hook. Mas scored her record contract in impressive short order after a series of New York City club dates (which met with much critical hoopla and praise) and an unprecedented airing of her demo tape on WNEW-FM. Her sheer moxie no doubt jarred listeners from their mellow a.o.r. (album-oriented-radio) stupors, and it's a good thing. The world needs more rock & rollers like her.

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REVIEW: Boss Ladies? Three Women Who Don't Bruce Easily (ROLLING STONE) November 15, 1979

Debra Rae Cohen

For female rock and rollers, this year's model would seem to be Springsteenette. Sure, the tough-but-tender, late-hours urban romantic is already a hackneyed stereotype, but femininity adds one more neat marketing formula. After all, 'streetwise,' with its glib good/bad-girl overtones, is a sexier catch-word than 'independent.' Whatever the rationale, the specter of Bruce Springsteen haunts each of these debut albums like a nagging refrain. Summoned up by the primarily black-and-white hot-child-in-the-city cover designs, it emerges in the interplay of guitars and sax, in the recurrent images of rebellious night and in the evocation of lion-hearted adolesecent yearning. For Ellen Foley, Ellen Shipley and Carolyne Mas--three undeniably talented New York vocalists--such packaging exacerbates the already complex problem of establishing a singular identity.

(Ellen Foley 'Nightout' LP review.)

(Ellen Shipley 'Ellen Shipley' LP review.)

Carolyne Mas doesn't take herself quite that seriously. Instead, she sings with a loopy, self-mocking good humor that lends her vocals a cabaret tang. A step beyond trumpeting her iconoclasm, Mas accepts her own flapper-meets-bohemian eccentricity as old hat: a precondition for new, quirky problems and observations. She can see the hero-worshiping devotion that's the flip side of rebellion ('Sadie Says') and be simultaneously appalled and amused by a lover's peremptory dismissal ('Quote Goodbye Quote'), yet she takes the time to celebrate her own extraordinary survival: 'Still sane/You may think you're crossing the line/Still sane/You may think you're losing your mind/And you stare in their faces.../Still sane.'

There's a sameness to Mas' easygoing Springsteen-type tunes, but they're unfailingly catchy and sculpted into full, compact arrangements. Simple hooks tied to vocal phrases are laid out, traded off, repeated and built up by David Landau's guitar, Robbie Kondor's piano and Crispin Cioe's succinct sax. Producer Steve Burgh, whose restraint helped make Steve Forbert's debut album a delight, favors Carolyne Mas with a similar hands-off delicacy. The result is a likable, unpretentious, adult LP that, in its cohesive musicianship and telling detail, comes close to capturing some of Bruce Springsteen's spirit instead of merely his stance. 'We both like the same things/But we don't go about them the same way,' Mas sings simply, puzzling through the problem of lovers at odds. It's a reminder that the first step toward street smarts is just learning to look both ways.

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REVIEW: Album Review (Stereo Review)

Noel Coppage

Performance: Flirtatious / Recording: Good

In some ways this is a crackerjack of a bubblegum album, but it leaves you feeling Carolyne Mas has the intelligence--and knowing she has the voice--to aim higher. It is intelligently produced by Steve Burgh, given the material (by Mas), which repeatedly poses Mas as a not-so-innocent (we know what 'Snow' is really about, etc.) at large in the big, fat world. There is something precocious about the attitude of the thing, but Mas' voice is pliant and expressive and doesn't need this flirtation with girlishness. The songs mostly perk along just fine on a bubblegum level but are almost all throw-aways. There's talent here, though.

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