"BEYOND MERCURY" is the first career-spanning retrospective from the artist naggingly referred to as "the female Springsteen." A pioneer in women's music, Carolyne Mas was born in New York to a former Miss Puerto Rico/guitarist/radio singer who studied medicine at NYU, and a scientisr/pianist/barritone with the New York City Opera Company who later invented the battery charger, among a host of significant inventions. It's no wonder that their daughter would be trained in classical voice, piano, and guitar, and completely wondrous that she would wind up in the world of rock and roll instead.
THE NEW ROLLING STONE RECORD GUIDE (John Swenson): "Mas burst onto the New York music scene in 1979 with good songs, a powerful voice and a cocky guitar style, all of which resulted in a media blitz that hailed her as a female Bruce Springsteen before she'd even signed a record deal."
That media blitz included almost every New York newspaper and music industry publication, including:
THE NEW YORK TIMES (Robert Palmer): "Carolyne Mas seems made to order for a successful rock career."
CASHBOX: "Mas may be one of the most promising female rock vocalists to come out of New York City in a long, long time."
MUSIC WEEK: "Carolyne Mas is being hailed as everything from a female Bruce Springsteen to the best thing since Janis Joplin."
RECORD WORLD: "Mas is everything the critics say she is, and possibly a little bit more. Unfortunately she has been labeled by one as 'the female Bruce Springsteen.' Here's hoping she is not unduly burdened by being compared to a great, fully matured artist. Mas has greatness in her too, but she needs room and time to develop at her own pace."
The praise (and the Springsteen comparisons) continued with the release of her self-titled debut album, "CAROLYNE MAS," produced by Steve Burgh, on Mercury Records in 1979:
MUSICIAN (Vic Garbarini): "Mas is the most talented and compelling American singer-songwriter to emerge since Bruce Springsteen, and this is her 'Born To Run.' She pumps more heart and soul into her superbly crafted three-minute pop anthems than anybody I've heard in years."
ROLLING STONE (Debra Rae Cohen): "The result is a likable, unpretentious, adult LP that, in its cohesive musicianship and telling detail, comes close to capturing some of Bruce Springsteen's spirit instead of merely his stance."
THE VILLAGE VOICE (Georgia Christgau): "Mas' lyrics are sharp, even poignant: 'You leave by the back door... a path drawn by moonlight/Is that the love you think I can live on?'" ("CALL ME," TRACK #16 OF "BEYOND MERCURY.")
TIME (Jay Cocks): "Mas' songs vary from reveries to roughhouse declamations without missing a beat, and if she keeps up this pace she may be dogging Randy Newman's tracks in a few years."
HIGH FIDELITY (Steven Rea): "The world needs more rock & rollers like her."
Onstage, Carolyne won fans throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe--opening shows for Springsteen, Cheap Trick, Sammy Hagar, and others. Bon Jovi, Jerry Seinfeld, and others opened shows for Carolyne:
BILLBOARD (Ed Harrison): "Mas is the rock world's best kept secret. Onstage, she is as explosive as a 20 megaton bomb, with a voice that can send shivers running through your body."
US: "Mas bounds about the stage like no wimpy little sex goddess we've ever seen."
The second album, "HOLD ON" (1980), was recorded live in the studio in less than a week, with very little overdubbing:
CREEM (Terri A. Huggins): "One of the things that distinguishes Mas from her peers is her no-holds-barred style. The lady is nobody's chump and she seems to have a definite idea where she wants to go. Mas zips through 'HOLD ON' like the Tasmanian Devil."
MS. (Pamela Brandt): "She writes heartfelt fifties-style rock 'n' roll mini-dramas with a new tough woman's awareness."
In 1981, Phoebe Snow recorded Carolyne's "BABY PLEASE" (TRACK #14) for her album "Rock Away." US mentioned: "This album includes songs by Rod Stewart, Carolyne Mas, Bob Dylan and Snow herself." Also released that year was Carolyne's third Mercury album, "MODERN DREAMS":
TROUSER PRESS (Jon Young): "Never mind that her brassy exhuberance suits Broadway at least as much as rock--Mas can't be dismissed as another shallow belter. At her most committed she fashions delightful pop with a fine cutting edge."
COSMOPOLITAN (Nat Hentoff): "Carolyne Mas is a walloping rocker; but as high as the volume gets, she never forgets to keep the words clear. A compelling young woman."
MUSICIAN (David Fricke): "She simply plays classy songs with rock 'n' roll guts, adding a blast of urban horns to 'LOVE LIKE STONE.'" (TRACK #13.)
Unfortunately, legal and financial difficulties kept Carolyne from recording or even performing live for the next four years. She returned to the stage in November 1985 with her "first free concert"--opening for Todd Rundgren at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey; and the next month playing an "All S.T.A.R.S. Showcase" in Bloomfield, NJ:
THE AQUARIAN (Paul Bobny): "For me, the evening's highlight was Carolyne Mas. Just seeing someone as glad to be back onstage as she was tonight is nothing short of inspiring. Mas' attitude toward the past was evident in her demeaor tonight: forget the bitterness, forget the pain, just come out swinging. And so she did, outrocking anyone else crossing the stage this evening."
In 1988, Carolyne was asked by a fan in Germany to record a new album for a label he was starting. Wanting to make "a more roots-rock record" she went to Springfield, Missouri to record "ACTION PACT" with The Skeletons (called by ROLLING STONE "the greatest bar band of all time"). Produced by Carolyne and Skeleton Lou Whitney, the album included the classic instrumental "SLEEPWALK," (TRACK #4; PLUS #3 & #12) with lyrics added by Mark Johnson ("King of Love").
On tour after the album's release in 1989, Carolyne found herself playing to thousands of fans in sold-out concert halls, theaters and clubs all across Germany:
ELLE (Germany): "Wearing sneakers and a sweatshirt, the tiny 36-year-old appeared as bold, fresh, and hungry as a newcomer. Original, straightforward, powerful and without calculated slickness, her bond with the audience is just right."
For her second German studio album, Carolyne brought New Yorkers Charlton Pettus and Milton Sutton (who had worked with Sinead O'Connor and Aimee Mann), to produce 1993's "REASON STREET":
BILLBOARD (Ellie Weinert): "Carolyne Mas has been so successful in Germany that she has lived, recorded and toured here since 1989. Ironically, the album that won her such popularity--a live recording titled 'MAS HYSTERIA' (1980)--was intended only as a promotional device for a forthcoming TV performance. It yeilded a string of hits and eventually sold more than 250,000 copies, making it one of the most successful 'official bootlegs' ever. Her new album, 'REASON STREET,' showcases her versatile singing style, which echos performers from Janis Joplin to Joni Mitchell, in musical settings encompassing blues, folk and rock. While the album has been likened, in places, to anything from R.E.M. to 'Led Zeppelin IV,' her one-woman show recalls the simplicity and sincerity of the original Greenwich Village singer/songwriters, but her material is fresh, and the wry narrative of a song like the single 'DRIVING ON THE RADIO' (TRACK #8, PLUS #5) has its own distinctive '90s appeal."
After the two German studio albums; the double "LIVE!" CD in 1992; and the reissue on CD of "MAS HYSTERIA"; Carolyne returned to the U.S. in the mid nineties. In 1999 she reunited with producer Steve Burgh for a full album, "BRAND NEW WORLD," which was never released. Three of those cuts (TRACKS #2, #7, & #17) are now heard for the first time on "BEYOND MERCURY," along with several demos she had recorded with Mark Johnson in 1995 (TRACKS #6 & #10) and 2001 (TRACKS #1, #9, & #11).
Carolyne said she chose the songs for "BEYOND MERCURY" like she was doing a set-list for a show. She included material from her five studio albums, plus the best of her previously unreleased album cuts and demos--17 tracks in all, spanning over two decades. And when her father died in 2002, she dedicated the CD to him, adding as the last track a song he had put on tape 50 years ago, "FOGGY, FOGGY DEW" (TRACK #18). "BEYOND MERCURY" is Carolyne's tribute to her father, and her gift to her fans around the world who "STAY TRUE" (TRACK #15) through the years.