Saturday, May 09, 2009


It's not over; the fat lady still sings. The former Ellen Cohen had about 10 years of musical successes in her short life, and more in the nearly 35 years since her death.

And here's her obscure debut on her new label RCA, which was widely ignored in 1972.

In 1963 she was the hefty part of the isoceles triangle that was Cass Elliot, Tim Rose and James Hendricks (her husband from (1963-68). As "The Big 3," they managed to issue two albums before morphing into "Cass Elliot and The Big 3," with the addition of Denny Doherty (among other changes in personnel). When this group broke up after one single, Cass herself went single, ready to take on the world. But Denny never forgot her, and after he formed a trio with John and Michelle Phillips, he invited her to join. The Mamas and The Papas were huge between 1965-1968. In 1968 the first Cass solo album arrived, "Dream A Little Dream Of Me."

She would go on to be a variety show favorite, larger than life opposite an Andy Williams or Ed Sullivan, and though her album sales weren't so great after '68, she was still a favorite on tour, and in 1974 she flew to the London Palladium for a two-week engagement. And that's where she died of a heart attack, not surprising considering her weight. No, there was no choking, no sandwich, no fatty foods anywhere near her. There was just plenty of fat inside her. The official verdict was: "heart failure due to fatty myocardial degeneration due to obesity".

It's not surprising her 1972 "Cass Elliot" album didn't go anywhere. Following two solo albums and a disc with Dave Mason, her RCA debut contained only one familiar recent cover tune to be rendered in her now-predictable pop-nostalgia mode: the overdone "Baby I'm Yours." The rest was fairly forgettable middle-of-the-road pop anybody could've done ("I'll Be There" could've been handed to Connie Francis, "Disney Girls" to Streisand, a string-laden "It's All in the Game" to Julie London). But speckled into the bland mix are two songs by Randy Newman ("I'll Be Home" and "I Think It's Going To Rain Today"), and cult figure Judee Sill's Joni-esque "Jesus Was a Crossmaker."

As a recording artist, Cass was not in a good position. This isn't a knock on her, it's that she was a victim of the times. Sweet pop (ala her defunct "Mamas and the Papas" or "Spanky and Our Gang" and "Harper's Bizarre") was dated, and after the novelty of seeing her croon "Dream a Little Dream of Me" on TV, folks now seemed to want love ballads from a more attractive source. Her lollipop fans couldn't possibly figure out those Randy Newman songs and may have even felt "Jesus was a Crossmaker" was some kind of blasphemy. Meanwhile hipsters aware her past solo albums were somewhat kitchy, couldn't buy stark or intelligent songs coming out of Mama Cass, so they didn't.

Her next album was prophetically titled "The Road Is No Place For A Lady."
Update: Nov, 2011. Rapidshare's annoying "30 days without a download kills it" policy killed the original links. "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" is back via a better company.

Download or listen on line. No capcha codes. No porn ads. No percentage going to the blogger for his "hard work." The hard work was done by the artist.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow- I Think Its Going to Rain Today is one of Randy Newman's best. Good choice. How did she know?