Barbara Mason – 1965 – Yes, I’m Ready

This week we are pleased to showcase one of soul’s most endearing leading ladies.  This is the wonderful debut of Barbara Mason at the tender age of just eighteen.  The post comes courtesy of another loyal reader to Funk My Soul, Ricardo, who has generously provided this hard-to-find, but important musical inclusion to these pages.  It contains probably her most defining moment, the glorious title track, ‘Yes, I’m ready’.  Barbara of course went on to become an important and influential singer all through the seventies and into the early eighties with her sassy, bold and effervescent style.  Here we find Barbara still grooming those traits, and yet just as alluring because of it.  See what you think.

This is a @192 vinyl rip of the original Arctic Records LP including covers.

Tracks
A1. Yes, I’m Ready 3.03
A2. Come to Me 2.20
A3. You Got What It Takes 2.19
A4. Misty 2.24
A5. Something You Got 2.50
A6. Come See About Me 2.38
B1. Sad, Sad Girl 2.51
B2. Got to Get You off My Mind 2.07
B3. Keep Him  2.01
B4. Girls Have Feelings Too 2.57
B5. Moon River 3.02
B6. Trouble Child 2.43

Review by Trakbuv

Barbara Mason has become instantly identifiable as a ‘woman with attitude’, a phrase that has come to represent the fairer sex in these modern times.  She is not readily associated with an image of brittleness or uncertainty in her track record of provocative records with in-your-face lyrics, such as ‘Shackin’ up’, ‘From his woman to you’, or the outrageous ‘Another man’.  Nor in her sultry, evocative vocal delivery.  However, there was a time when she was vulnerable and starry-eyed, and that sweetness is beautifully captured on her debut album.  Born in Philadelphia in 1947, she first began developing her art while playing on Grandma’s piano.  Several victorious talent shows later, she got the chance to perform occasional spots for The Larks, at the behest of her next-door neighbour who just happened to be a band member.  He also introduced her to a local DJ, Jimmy Bishop, who part-financed her debut single, ‘Trouble Child’ on Crusader Records.  It introduced that impetuous girly approach of hers to the world on a slightly dawdling, but pleasant release nonetheless. Jimmy became a critical element in her early success, and a personal relationship that produced a son.  He secured a contract with Arctic Records which provided her first hit in ‘Girl’s have feelings too’, reaching #31 on the R&B charts – another track that sounds like there weren’t enough lyrics for each verse – but with a very catchy chorus line.

Her follow-up Arctic single was ‘Yes, I’m ready’ – and what must the company have been thinking upon its release to unsuspecting radio listeners ?  With its lush opening, sweet harmonies and Barbara strolling through the lyrics with a cutesy, whimsical sway, they must have got blisters from rubbing their hands.  Arguably, the most perfect frame for Barbara’s unique vocal approach, and one of the most adorable songs ever to be waxed.  Well, it sure ‘nuff cracked big time, reaching #2 and #5 in the R&B and Pop Charts, respectively, in 1965 (what record stopped it reaching number 1 in the R&B charts, I wonder ?).  It is sometimes regarded as the first ‘Philly’ record, boasting such luminaries as Bobby Eli, Earl Young and Jack Faith in session, and one Kenny Gamble on background vocals.  Also of interest is that the legendary PIR guitarist, Norman Harris, toured as her music director in the 60s, but was largely not allowed in the studio because he could not read music.  Using a similar formula for her all important third Arctic single, ‘Sad sad girl’ was a wonderful choice – those forlorn simple words delivered perfectly with Barbara’s slurred charm.  The song duly peaked at #12 on the R&B Billboard.

All four aforementioned tracks were penned by Barbara herself and were included on the 12-tracker LP that followed, entitled ‘Yes, I’m Ready’.  Examining the back cover suggests that she also wrote two further tracks on the album, as indicated by possessing the same publisher details. These are ‘Come to me’ and ‘Keep him’, the latter being surprisingly fresh with its intriguing keyboard intro/hook and double tracked vocals.  The remainder of the LP consists of a mix of standards and tracks unfamiliar to me.  Her versions of ‘Moon river’ and especially ‘Come see about me’ are strangely flat, and unnecessary inclusions for me.  However, ‘Misty’ does give a nice jazzy edge to Barbara that was a pleasant change of pace.  On the more meaty ‘Got to get you off my mind’, Barbara takes the opportunity to further develop those sassy phrasings we later came to expect.  Very mature.  ‘You got what it takes’ is a very nice track too, and a definite 45 contender if they had chosen to lift another track.

Clearly still finding her style – but to a large extent, her future vocal phrasings and diction were already there.  So in the closing words of the liner notes : ‘Listen and enjoy the most refreshing new female singer to come along in quite some time.  At the tender age of 18, Barbara Mason is a most unusual writer and vocalist’.  Run-of-the mill, she certainly ain’t !!

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For those interested, there is an excellent interview with the delectable lady here. There was a 1997 CD with all her Arctics releases (two albums and singles) but is deleted from everywhere I checked,  except one used copy, which is still available on ebay here. Original vinyl is hard to find and always goes more that 50 USD, so I guess it’s gonna take me a long time to buy it. Finally enjoy live the classic “Yes, I’m Ready”.

Download link

EasyBytez

Ricardo, thank you for this rare excellent contribution. You can also enjoy in our back pages here, my fav of Barbara Mason’s albums “Lady Love” with the great cover of “Me and Mrs Jones” among others.

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Comments

  1. Lafayette says:

    Wow! This REALLY is Ricardo’s week…check this one out as well: http://4bbweekly.wordpress.com/2009/04/28/week-18-phenomenal/
    Big thanks to Ricardo, Nikos & Trackbuv – excellent choice, brilliant write-up, sweet sweet album!

  2. ahawk says:

    Many thanks, all music here is wonderful!

  3. rich says:

    thanx for this wonderful post

  4. invisiblenigma says:

    Yea Ricardo!! You definitely are doing big things this week!! Much appreciated Nikos and Trakbuv as well.

  5. phatrapper says:

    Many thanks Nikos!

  6. Andre says:

    good lookin out. i needed this one. much appreciated!

  7. hooch says:

    Lovely Lp – Thank you so much!

  8. bowlisha1 says:

    As I stated here http://4bbweekly.wordpress.com/2009/04/28/week-18-phenomenal/ in the comments section, “Yes I’m Ready” is another red light basement party memory time song. Too bad again for all those who were not there and don’t have a clue as to what I’m talkin’ about. :-( Those were magical times indeed.

    Ricardo what can I say that beats a simple thank you? You’ve given the best of the best that’s for sure. Many many thanks. So appreciated.

    Trakbuv as always what would a post be without the bio? Just some download along the way. They are the most necessary introduction for what is to come and you make them all so mouth watering. Thank you so very much.

  9. jaguar says:

    Great LP from a great singer.

    Many thanks.

  10. gorgio says:

    i wrote the above about B.M in the net and i completely agree : ” i was all “neo-souled-out” until i discovered this woman!! ms. mason is in the same mode as isaac hayes, but much of her style reminds me what erykah is doing now…this is much better than my millie jackson, betty wright or marlena shaw cd’s…it should be punishable by law that urban radio stations dont devote some of their airtime to more music like this….”

  11. Bill says:

    Thanks for this.I had the single.Now I`ve got the album!

  12. Eliot says:

    Thanks for this great album! Can’t wait to hear the upcoming Swiss Movement record.

  13. Soul is the Music says:

    “Yes, I’m ready” truly established her as an artist and Philadelphia as as a soul centre. That torrent of virginal teen longing featured the musicians who became the backbone of Philly Sound – guitarists Norman Harris and Bobby Eli, drummer Earl Young and bassist Ronnie Baker and introduced the impossibly lush strings that became characteristic of the Philly sound.

  14. catacaldos says:

    Great work,as usual.I’ll love this one,for sure.Thanks a million for a true gem

  15. Amelia says:

    Barbara Mason is very underrated. One of the best soul singers of the 60’s and 70’s. Every song she sings you can feel the emotion that she puts into it. Thanks Ricardo and Funkmysoul stuff for this great share.

  16. onejazzyman says:

    Barbara Mason is a true soul singer. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Jacknife says:

    Thanks a million! Guys you do terrific work.

  18. Palermo says:

    Wow! At last i can dig the rare wonderful Mrs Mason’s debut album. Thanx Ricardo.

  19. Jonas Buck says:

    I grew up with Barbara. Finally just due for the real queen of Philly soul.

  20. Noa says:

    Many thanks for the share!

  21. manny says:

    thanks for posting

  22. alex says:

    many thanks for a great drop guys!
    awesome soul!!!!

  23. Jordan says:

    classic joint i got the vinyl at home!!!!!!!

  24. whoknows says:

    thanks for this one!

  25. robert says:

    This is a really excellent album! Thanks to Ricardo and Nikos for putting it up!

  26. mr playa says:

    only album i had missing form my ms mason……been looking high & low ,,thanks a million ,,great post…

  27. analog6 says:

    Thanks for offering up this rare gem.

  28. PATTI says:

    WHAT CAN I SAY ,JUST DELICIOUS! THANK-YOU FOR YEARS OF HEARTFELT MUSIC.

  29. 3rdEye says:

    very much appreciate this one,thx

  30. johh says:

    Great album – love hearing this wonderful music – without this blog, I would never get the chance. Thanks. John

  31. Roger Christensen says:

    Dear Barbara,

    I would love to get some items personally signed by you.

    Do you have a PO Box or something – where you personally signed the items.

    Thank you so much for all of the great music – much of which was played in Vietnam when I was their.

    I thank the Good Lord for letting me live thru all that
    hell we went thru.

    May God Bless Always,

    Roger Christensen
    5975 Crow CT.
    San Diego, CA 92120-2005

    619-286-6902

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