Monday, March 9, 2015

The Many Shades of Leon Russell: This Masquerade

You may remember the Top 10 hit that George Benson had with “This Masquerade” in 1976. Did you realize that it was a Leon Russell composition that he recorded originally for his “Carney” LP in 1972? Additionally, the song got into the hands of a number of folks that didn’t buy the album but purchased Leon’s highest charting single: “Tightrope.”

I was one of the latter and “This Masquerade” was the flip side of “Tight Rope.” Although the single edit was mixed differently than the album version which is heard here. Instead of the esoteric instrumentation at the song’s beginning lasting 1:22, the single version started directly with Leon’s vocal track.

In addition to George Benson’s hit version, “This Masquerade” was recorded by Helen Reddy, The Carpenters, Shirley Bassey, Willie Nelson, David Sanborn, Robert Goulet, Kenny Rogers, and a host of others. Benson’s hit version won the 1977 Grammy for Record of the Year as well as being nominated for two other Grammy award categories.

Leon’s version also was featured in two movies from 2006: “Bug” and “The Pursuit of Happyness.” This qualifies Leon’s version to also be our Media Mondays’ selection. Of all of Leon’s compositions, “This Masquerade” probably provided him the most income in the form of royalties. Great stuff from 1972.

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