Carolyne Mas isn’t a name that’s particularly well known, yet she can count Pete Townsend, Steve Van Zandt, Robin Zander and Steve Forbert among others as fans of her music. At one point Townsend even agreed to work as a producer on an album until scheduling conflicts decided otherwise.
Mas like many other others was a graduate of the Greenwich Village folk music scene. However, unlike the others the scene produced, Mas and her music veered off into decisive and defiant rock and roll. A string of early albums and blistering live performances quickly brought Mas to the attention of the music industry and her live performances in particular brought her praise and dedicated following not only in America, but also in Europe where she enjoyed considerable success in Germany.
‘Let’s Come Together (Live in Bremen 1989)’ captures one of those famous incendiary live performances. Originally broadcast by Radio Bremen and now re-released by German label MIG, the album is a snapshot of an artist who could rock every bit as well as her better well-known contemporaries. Her music was often compared to that of Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, but Mas had more attitude than Springsteen. On a good day, she good could give the likes of Patti Smith, Chrissie Hynde or Hazel O’Connor a run for their money. While sonically there were comparisons with the sound of The E Street Band, her attitude and vocal leant heavily towards punk.
The blistering set list reads like a greatest hits compilation. ‘Red Lights’, ‘Running From the High Life’, ‘Still Sane’ and ‘Thomas Dunsan’s Revenge’ are brilliantly executed to delight to the German audience and highlight the versatility of the musicians. However, the epic thirteen-minute version of fan favourite ‘Sittin’ In the Dark’ is the undisputed highlight of the collection. Mas could have been a dam fine blues singer too. Just listen to her voice on ‘So Hard to Be True’. Spine tingling! Giving a nod to her friend Steve Forbert she covers ‘Samson and Delilah’s Beauty Shop’. Rounding out the concert, she rocks up the Beatle’s ‘Come Together’ giving a performance the fab four could only have dreamt of.
Sadly legal and label issues halted Mas’s ascendancy and her career stalled never to regain the momentum of her early years. Now retired from the music industry she is a graduate of the Arizona State University and is following an academic career in health care.
‘Let’s Come Together (Live in Bremen 1989)’ is a passionate example of an artist at the top of her game. The band are tight and road tested, Mas’s songs are strong and her performance energetic. It’s a shame that Mas didn’t achieve the stardom that she deserved, but with a strong back catalogue to discover at least in later life her immense talent will get the recognition it rightly deserves.