Barbara Mason – 1968 – Oh How It Hurts
Barbara Mason’s second and final LP for Arctic Records was released three years after her first. The Arctic label released 60 records before folding; 14 were Mason releases. Jimmy Bishop, a Philadelphia DJ, owned the label and included “Yes, I’m Ready” on this collection to bolster sales, since all of Mason’s Arctic hits except the title track are on her debut. Incidentally, that’s Kenny Gamble crooning backing vocals on “Ready”; Gamble also recorded for Arctic and wrote some sides for Mason before going on to form Gamble, Neptune, and Philadelphia International Records. Only “Oh How It Hurts” sold well from this collection, and deservedly so; the sad ballad touches the heart every time you hear it. Mason sings with pain and the lyrics hit home. The excellent “Is It Me, or Is It Her” makes this a must collection.
You won’t find this jewel on any other compilation to date; it’s even missing from the excellent 27-track Bear Family anthology of her Arctic years. The rest of the tracks are misses and flip sides. Mason always covered songs; her first LP had six remakes but there are only a few here, the best being “You Can Depend on Me“, a nifty reworking of the Miracles song. Mason has yet to receive the credit she deserves for being an innovator of the sweet Philly sound; all the other sweet Philly singers – Brenda & the Tabulations, the Delfonics, Blue Magic, the Stylistics, and others — came after Mason. The rhythm section of M.F.S.B. played on Mason’s recordings long before gaining recognition on the Philadelphia International label.
A1 Oh, How It Hurts 2:49
A2 Poor Girl In Trouble 3:14
A3 I Need Love 3:08
A4 You Can Depend On Me 2:44
A5 I Do Love You 3:00
A6 Game Of Love 2:29
B1 Yes, I’m Ready 3:06
B2 If You Don’t 3:08
B3 Is It Me 2:54
B4 Forever 2:35
B5 I Don’t Want To Lose You 2:40
B6 For Your Love 2:18
An interesting minor soul performer, Barbara Mason initially focused on songwriting when she entered the music business in her teens. As a performer, though, she had a huge hit in 1965 with her self-penned “Yes, I’m Ready” (number five pop, number two R&B), a fetching soul-pop confection that spotlighted her high, girlish vocals. One of the first examples of the sweet, lush sound that came to be called Philly soul, she had modest success throughout the rest of the decade on the small Arctic label, reaching the pop Top 40 again in 1965 with “Sad, Sad Girl“. In the early and mid-’70s, Mason toughened her persona considerably, singing about sexual love and infidelity with a frankness that was uncommon for a female soul singer in songs like “Bed and Board“, “From His Woman to You,” and “Shackin’ Up“.
Sweet soul continued to be her groove, and she continued to write some of her material. But the production, as it was throughout soul in the ’70s, was more funk-oriented, and at times Mason would interrupt her singing to deliver some straight-talkin’ raps about romance. Curtis Mayfield produced her on a cover of Mayfield’s “Give Me Your Love“, which restored her to the pop Top 40 and R&B Top Ten in 1973; “From His Woman to You” and “Shackin’ Up” were also solid soul sellers in the mid-’70s. After leaving Buddha Records in 1975, she only dented the charts periodically, with “I Am Your Woman, She Is Your Wife” (1978), “Another Man” (1984), and a couple of other singles.
More albums by Barbara Mason on FunkMySoul here