Cass Elliot, Don’t Call Me Mama Anymore, RCA APL1-0303, 1973
Mama Cass was really ready for a make over in the early 70s. Gaining fame as a member of The Mamas & The Papas, Cass Elliot earned her nickname, even though she came to despise being called “Mama”. After three failed solo albums billed as “Mama Cass” on her old record company Dunhill, she signed with RCA as simply “Cass Elliot.
The first two RCA albums also flopped, so for her third, Cass got motivated to make a clean break of anything related to ‘Mama’ even if that meant putting together a cabaret act and leaving rock music behind. After all, her biggest solo hit Dream A Little Dream Of Me was an old American Pop standard and the new musical direction was aimed towards that bullseye.
I just wish it were better. She had one of the most amazing pop voices of all time, it was strong yet sensitive. But these songs, recorded live at a cabaret club in Chicago, are just bad. Yes, she sings her hit, and a couple of other has of the day, but the rest is just pure schmaltz. The era of the cabaret was dying by the mid 70s, and it was not a sign of a strong career move to make. Not that it mattered for poor Cass Elliot. She died of heart failure just months after this record came out. This bad album was the last one she released.
Cost: $2, $374 Remaining
The Mamas & The Papas, Dunhill D-50010, 1966
Some bands, like The Rolling Stones, can last forever. Others, like The Mamas & The Papas tend to collapse like a flan in a cupboard just as soon as they form. Just a few months after the success of their first album, If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears, the group was rushed back into the studio to record it’s follow-up. Sophomore albums have a notorious reputation for being weak, usually because artists have all the time in the world to develop material for their first record, but then have next to no time to try to equal or better what was done over years of practicing and writing. Still, the Mamas & The Papas had the musical chops to try to pull it off.
They just didn’t have the personality traits to do so. Not that John & Michelle Phillips had anything close to a traditional marriage, but with Michelle going around in public with Gene Clarke of The Byrds, the rest of the group decided to fire her, just as Monday Monday was falling out of the op 40. Enter Jill Gibson, a show biz veteran and Michelle Phillips look alike was hired to be the new Mama. They even took a nice cover photo with the new lineup for the record. But a few recording and concert dates later, the group decided that things weren’t “right” with the New Jan (Jill in this case) and re-hired Michelle.
But it seems like Dunhill Records was in such a hurry to get the album out that they cut a few corners to do so. Rather than take a new group photo, they just used the old one they had and superimposed Michelle onto Jill, and voila! A sophomore album is born. Never mind the obvious color differences between Michelle and the rest of the group, or the fact that they spelled “Denny” as Dennie, Dunhill wasn’t going to spend time or money to slow this record from hitting the stores. And musically, it’s really great! We just have no idea who’s actually singing on it.
Cost: $2, $681 Remaining
$55 Spent, $1.77 per record