Linda Mason

How Many Seas Must a White Dove Sail?

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In some ways, this extremely obscure LP was ahead of its time; in others, it was passe even at its time of issue. It was an unusual, if not unprecedented, move for an artist to record an entire album of Bob Dylan songs when this was cut in May 1964, even if the artist, Linda Mason, was all but unknown even within the folk revival. It was also unusual for any folk album to be cut with numerous backup musicians, and even drums. Too, the backup musicians included several figures who played important roles in '60s folk and folk-rock, among them a pre-Lovin' Spoonful John Sebastian (on harmonica), bassist Russ Savakus (who played on numerous early folk-rock records), guitarist Al Gorgoni (who'd play on Dylan's own Bringing It All Back Home album), and guitarist/arranger Walter Raim (who'd executed the same duties on Judy Collins' third album). But this is not anywhere near folk-rock, let alone an outstanding folk record or an exciting redefinition of Dylan material. For one thing, the drums aren't used on many of the tracks, and even on the ones that drummer Gary Chester does play on, you can hardly hear them. More importantly, Mason is a competent but bland singer, with the reverent, polite sterility -- almost to the point of laughability on the grim tale of "Who Killed Davy Moore?," though the rest isn't so bad -- common to so many interpretations in the folk revival. If Joan Baez's early Dylan covers seemed sugar-coated next to the originals, they seem relatively gutsy in comparison to Mason's. It's still a fairly well-done record, with an assortment of the most outstanding songs from Dylan's The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan and The Times They Are A-Changin' albums, as well as a couple more obscure tunes that didn't appear on early Dylan LPs, "Who Killed Davy Moore?" and "Tomorrow Is a Long Time" (as well as a song from Freewheelin' that Dylan didn't write, "Corinna, Corinna"). It's just not the bold or creative endeavor one might hope for considering the date and session musicians, and is primarily of interest as a curiosity.