New Smooth Soul Survivor - "Yes I'm Ready"

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    Barbara MasonFor fully twenty years writer and performer Barbara Mason brought her sweet soul music to the pop and R & B charts.  Despite this lengthy time in the spotlight, she is possibly best known for her earliest smash, ‘Yes I'm Ready' that reached number five pop and number two R&B in the spring of 1965.  A worthy Smooth Soul Survivor on many levels it failed to propel her to the stardom that its success suggested but still left a sizable legacy and laid the foundation for her modest but ongoing accomplishments.

    Recognized for her role as a pioneer of what evolved into the Philly sound Mason was back in the top forty in 1966 with ‘Sad Sad Girl'.  However, it was not until the early seventies, by which time she had taken on a raunchier Millie Jackson like persona, that she again caught the eye.  Songs such as ‘Bed and Board', ‘From His Woman to You' and ‘Shackin' Up' summed up her style of the period while her 1973 cover of Curtis Mayfield's ‘Give Me Your Love' (which incidentally Mayfield produced) propelled her back to the hit parade.  After leaving Buddah Records in 1975 her solo career started on the downward spiral.  From there on, only ‘I Am Your Woman, She Is Your Wife' in 1978 and ‘Another Man' eight years later made an impression on the charts.

    While Mason's star was dimming that of ‘Yes I'm Ready' continued to burn brightly.  Carla Thomas had featured it as early as 1966 on the album ‘Comfort Me' and a year later Gladys Knight and the Pips made it part of ‘Everybody Needs Love'.  One hit Philly wonders The Ambassadors included it on the 1969 album ‘Soul Summit' but it was perhaps when K.C. & the Sunshine Band co-founder Harry Wayne "K.C." Casey got hold of the track that its greatest impact was felt.  Casey was at Casablanca Records when he first heard the Barry Gibb composition ‘Ain't Nothing Gonna Keep Me From You', by Teri DeSario.  One thing led to another and when Casey became DeSario's manager they recorded ‘Yes I'm Ready' as a duet for her second album ‘Moonlight Madness'.  It reached number one on the adult contemporary chart in early 1980 and its association with KC & the Sunshine Band was so strong (it features on two of the bands ‘greatest hits live' projects) that many believed it to be one of the bands own compositions.

    Mason's original can be found on a plethora of ‘best of' and compilation collections yet what arguably might be classed as the definitive version is tucked away on ‘From The Soul', a 2005 release by Jeffrey Osborne.  This former LTD front man and successful solo performer has been embraced of late by the world of contemporary jazz and for ‘From The Soul' he turns to that genre for the proven production skills of Paul Brown.  Truth tell, in making the switch from smooth jazz to soul, Brown's touch often shows up as being heavy handed but with ‘Yes I'm Ready' it is simply sublime.  Brown himself plays guitar, Jeff Carruthers is on keys, Roberto Vally on bass and backing vocals are in the soulfully capable hands of Shannon Pearson.

    It is all this and more that demonstrates ‘Yes I'm Ready' as a true Smooth Soul Survivor.

    By Denis Poole,

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