Cass Elliot will always be best remembered for her part in one of the ultimate pop vocal ensembles, the Mamas and the Papas. But her all-too-short solo career yielded some delightful recordings, several of which deserved to be much bigger hits than they became. One such, the uplifting “Move In A Little Closer, Baby,” made its Billboard Hot 100 bow on March 15, 1969.
Still billed as Mama Cass, the singer had made her solo breakthrough in the summer of 1968, with a remake of the early 1930s torch song “Dream A Little Dream Of Me.” The follow-up, John Hartford’s “California Earthquake,” was taken, like that hit, from the Dream A Little Dream album, but only reached No.67. Now she turned to a song of British origin.
English vocal outfit Harmony Grass, featuring the much-travelled Tony Rivers, recorded the original “Move In A Little Closer” and released it as a single in 1968. Their version, on the Dunhill label, reached No.24 in the UK in January 1969. Written by Robert O’Connor and Arnold Jay Capitanelli, it had the further distinction of being produced by Chris Andrews, a chart artist himself known best for the major 1965 hit “Yesterday Man” and as a writer of hits for Adam Faith and Sandie Shaw.
‘Bubblegum, Lemonade And…Something For Mama’
Elliot became aware of the song and gave it her distinctive treatment, releasing it as the lead single from her second solo album Bubblegum, Lemonade And…Something For Mama. Enthused Billboard: “Mama Cass has another giant sales winner in this commercial, solid rhythm number with top production by Steve Barri.”
Sadly, the magazine was wrong in its prediction. “Move In A Little Closer, Baby” debuted at No.92, in the week that another of Barri’s productions, Tommy Roe’s “Dizzy” started a four-week run at No.1. Cass wouldn’t be so lucky, and her single peaked at No.58, but the song went on to be fondly remembered as one of the best examples of her sunshine pop.
“Move In A Little Closer, Baby” is on Dream A Little Dream Of Me: The Music Of Mama Cass Elliot, which can be bought here.
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