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The Best of Cass Elliot

The Best of Cass Elliot


Before she was within the Mamas & the Papas — and even earlier than she was in her pre-Mamas group the Mugwumps — Elliot was one-third of a people ensemble known as the Big Three with Tim Rose and Jim Hendricks. Her persona shone when she sang lead on this saucy blues traditional, first made well-known by Ida Cox. I really like listening to her dig into her voice’s grit right here, flexing a muscle she often wasn’t in a position to within the Mamas & the Papas.

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John Phillips wrote this vampy, virtually carnivalesque tune — a success off the group’s 1966 self-titled album — about his tumultuous relationship along with his spouse on the time, Michelle. But understanding it was squarely in Elliot’s wheelhouse, he properly enlisted her to sing lead.

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From Elliot’s second solo album, “Bubblegum, Lemonade, and … Something for Mama,” this luminous ray of sunshine pop was written by the legendary songwriting duo Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill.

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Elliot’s rendition of this Barbara Lewis ballad is without delay brassy and coy, leaning into the slight absurdity of the lyrics — “and I’ll be yours till 2 and a couple of is 3” — whereas sustaining an earnest sense of devotion. It’s a sonic Valentine.

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Elliot’s collaborative album with the previous Traffic musician Dave Mason, merely titled “Dave Mason & Cass Elliot,” is an underrated entry in her discography. Though Elliot’s contribution is usually restricted to backing vocals, it’s a testomony to the facility of her voice that Mason noticed match to present her co-billing. Although Elliot didn’t write many of the materials that made her well-known, this album options two of her solely songwriting credit: the lilting, melancholic “Here We Go Again,” on which she sings lead, and this light rocker, which she co-wrote with Mason.

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Though it was written and later recorded by Leonard Cohen, this music was truly first launched by Elliot, when it appeared on her 1968 debut solo album, “Dream a Little Dream.” (Cohen’s stark and relatively monotone interpretation appeared on his 1969 LP, “Songs From a Room.”) Featuring some of the soulful vocals Elliot ever put to tape, the monitor is an amalgam of jazz, people and gospel — extra proof that Elliot may flourish in nearly any style possible.

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