Rockbrat Introduces You To: CAROLYNE MAS & MAS HYSTERIA (1980)

Sometime in 1990, whilst indulging in my (then) usual Saturday past time of buying second hand records, I found myself at Andy’s second hand store in Manly, NSW. (Mr Rockbrat assures me that this store is still there by the way). If you could get past the somewhat disconcerting image of the dirty old geezer behind the counter sitting reading old copies of Penthouse all day, their used to be some pretty good records (and cassettes) to be found in this store. Anyways, in the dollar bin, I picked up two Carolyn Mas albums, her debut and my favourite album of hers, “Hold On” from 1980. Yet it was only recently, whilst clearing out my house that I rediscovered the musical magic of these albums all over again. I may have parted with many LP’s over the years, yet not these two, and for just reason. GREAT albums – that ultimately did not get the exposure they deserved due to poor label representation. I could in fact, choose each of these albums to review, but instead, I’ll alert you to her 1980 live LP called ‘Mas Hysteria’ as by way of introduction to her. Mas Hysteria is her third album, and was recorded live at “My Father’s Place” Long Island. It is effectively a live radio broadcast on Radio station WLIR FM that was purchased by Phonogram Records in Germany to be released as an album for the exclusive purpose of promoting her upcoming 2-hour live television concert on “Rock Palast,” on January 20, 1981, and a concert with The Boomtown Rats two days later. (This radio appearance caused a rift with competitor WNEW (who funded her original demo tape), and as a result they pulled her then debut album from their playlist, creating a ripple that would erase her music suddenly and permanently from the charts at a crucial time). As history has shown, these kind of music industry stuff ups occurred at moments when she should have rightfully been rocketing up the charts. In reality, her first two albums should have seen her becoming a headliner ala Pat Benatar. None of that matters now. Fact is, its 2013, and her body of musical works still sound superb, vibrant and relevant and are well worthy of your attention.  Anyway, where was I? Yes, the record cover of ”Mas Hysteria” was designed to look like a bootleg, and though it was originally meant strictly for promotional use, due to popular demand this 6-song “limited edition” was released and reprinted in Germany year after year. It eventually sells over 250,000 copies, ironically making it Carolyne’s biggest-selling record anywhere. Because it is sold at a “nice price,” she is ineligible for the accolades that a Gold Record would normally bring. She will also never see a penny from this record, her biggest success. If you read her bio – you will see that a string of events like this hampered her chances of big time success. But as we all know, sometimes the cream doesn’t rise – and the best stuff is out there like treasure to be discovered. Be thankful that I’m saving you the digging by hipping you to this great rocker today! ‘Mas Hysteria’ opens with the gutsy rocker, “Hold On’ which showcases her bluesy, ballsy vocal delivery straight out of the blocks. The lead playing by guitarist Rick Desarno is clean, crisp and smoking. DeSarno is a legend of the Asbury Park music scene, (known for his soaring guitar solos), and shared the stage with Springsteen, Steve Van Zandt, Southside Johnny and other Asbury musicians. Second tune is “Stay True” another killer track from the “Hold On “LP, highlighted by some tasty horns via Crispin Cioe, who later went on to join the Stones. With its upbeat tempo, and catchy pre chorus, “Thomas Dunson’s Revenge” is another high point. Fourth up is “Running From The High Life”, again from the “Hold On” and probably my favourite Mas tune. This is a fantastic time, melody aplenty, that would have been a hit had Benatar or Springsteen recorded it. Massive chorus with a capital C for catchy. If you want to listen to Mas showcasing her versatile rock range, listen to this. Bitchin’ rock ‘n’ roll that smokes anything you are likely to hear that they call new rock n roll nowadays. At 12:51, the sultry ‘Sitting In The Dark’ is a brooding epic awash with Ian McLagan style keyboards and a funky bass solo courtesy of Ivan Elias (he later went on to join Scandle alongside Blackhearts Thommy Price and Kasim Sultan. Remember their hit “The Warrior”?)  This tune became especially popular in clubs and on radio in Germany, and still gets much airplay there today. The final tune is “Quote Goodbye Quote”, and it’s a great way to close out. An upbeat rocker that is again – catchy and memorable. It features a solo from Desarno that simply smokes, and still sounds amazing today. Out of 10, I would give this a 9. The music of Carolyne Mas is thouroughly recommended  and is out there for you to discover. You can even buy these albums digitally at a ridiculously cheap price direct from Carolyne Mas’s web site. You can also listen to “Running From The High Life” here. The final word goes to esteemed rock journalist Vic Garbarini who wrote, “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.” Nuff said.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s