Deep Dive: Mason Williams’ Other Phonographic Records
Today we celebrate the birthday of a guitarist who brought classical music to the masses with an instrumental called “Classical Gas.” To commemorate the date of his birth, however, we thought we’d shine a spotlight on the subsequent four albums from the Warner Brothers era of his career, which haven’t gotten nearly as much attention over the years as his debut album for the label, THE MASON WILLIAMS PHONOGRAPHIC RECORD.
• THE MASON WILLIAMS EAR SHOW (1968): Released within a few months of his debut, Williams’ sophomore effort expands his musical palate to incorporate more instrumentation, including a mood synthesizer. Some have called it one of the first post-modernist pop albums. You be the judge.
• MUSIC BY MASON WILLIAMS (1969): It’s fair to say that the best-known song on this LP is its opening, since everyone knows “Greensleeves” (and, it must be said, they knew it well before Williams recorded it), but it’s full of the same top-notch Williams material you’ve gotten used to hearing from him.
• HAND MADE (1970): As the title implies, this finds Williams getting more acoustic with his sound, and it works wonderfully. There’s even a new stripped-down version of his signature hit, “Classical Gas,” that’s transformed into something unique from the original.
• SHAREPICKERS (1971): Once again, Williams gets acoustic, even venturing into bluegrass territory for tunes like “Little Beggar Man / Hamilton County” and “Train Ride in G.” There’s a fair amount of twang, and there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.