From David Bianculli’s history of the Smothers Brothers’ groundbreaking television variety show, I discovered that Mason Williams was much more than the guy who wrote the million-selling instrumental, “Classical Gas.” Williams not only recorded albums for Warner Brothers (and Mercury & Vee Jay) but also wrote incisive and edgy sketches for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (as well as The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, The Roger Miller Show, and Saturday Night Live, et al.) and produced a couple clever pieces of conceptual art, most notably an actual-size photograph of a Greyhound bus in 1967.
That same year Williams released The Mason Williams Phonograph Record album with a cover photo that once again explored the intersection of art and Greyhound buses – one of the more intriguing album tracks is a composition in which Williams fuses “baroque” musical elements with a bossa nova backbeat and sunny syllables sung in classic West Coast fashion:
“Baroque-a-Nova” Mason Williams 1968
Billboard deemed the album a “Special Merit Pick” and posted this review in their March 23, 1968 edition:
TV comedy writer Mason Williams, known for his clever, satiric material on the ‘Smothers Brothers’ show, has put together a wacky and whimsical ode to musical styles, touching on all bases — classical, pop, folk, jazz, and compositions for orchestra. Williams shows off a pleasant voice and a wealth of talent in “Wanderlove,” “She’s Gone Away” and “Long Time Blues.”
“Baroque-a-Nova” would faithfully serve as the b-side for “Classical Gas” worldwide.