Saturday, 13 August 2016

"Alone Together" by DAVE MASON of Traffic [featuring Leon Russell, Rita Coolidge, Delaney & Bonnie and Eric Clapton] (2008 Rev-Ola CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Only You Know And I Know..."

The "Alone Together" LP by DAVE MASON from 1970

A founder member of Traffic (who'd worked with Kim Fowley and The Spencer Davis Group prior to that) – the man who penned their fabulous "Feelin’ Alright" hit was the first to jump ship due to that internal hairyman virus bands seem to suffer perennially from - 'musical differences'.

Ensconced in the USA with a huge cast of key players – Mason went at his first solo LP with the help of Traffic’s Drummer Jim Capaldi and cool contributions from the likes of Leon Russell, Eric Clapton, Chris Etheridge, Jim Keltner, Rita Coolidge, Claudia Lennear and the Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett band (to name but a few) – producing a humdinger in the process. And that’s where this superb 2008 Rev-Ola CD Reissue and Remaster comes in...

UK released 28 May 2008 (June 2008 in the USA) - "Alone Together" by DAVE MASON on Rev-Ola CD REV 251 (Barcode 5013929455122) is a straightforward CD Remaster of his 8-Track 1970 debut solo LP and plays out as follows (34:54 minutes):

1. Only You Know And I Know
2. Can't Stop Worrying, Can't Stop Loving
3. Waitin' On You
4. Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave
5. World In Changes [Side 2]
6. Sad And Deep As You
7. Just A Song
8. Look At You, Look At Me
Tracks 1 to 8 are his debut solo LP "Alone Together" – released July 1970 in the USA on Blue Thumb BTS 19 and October 1970 in the UK on Harvest SHTC 251. Produced by DAVE MASON and TOMMY LIPUMA (engineered by Bruce Botnik of The Doors fame) - the US issue famously came in two forms – a triple gatefold sleeve with black vinyl and some copies came with die-cut 'kangaroo-pac' triple gatefold sleeve with a splatter–coloured Vinyl LP inside (both had BTS 19 as their catalogue numbers).

But the big news here is the 'Sound Recreation' Remaster by NORMAN BLAKE and JOE FOSTER done at Studio 3 in Glasgow. This CD sounds glorious - beautiful sound on every track...

Harvest Records took their sweet time in the UK - releasing "World In Changes" b/w "Can't Stop Worrying, Can't Stop Loving" in April 1970 on Harvest HAR 5017. But as the album proper didn’t show until October 1970 in the UK - months of waiting killed any momentum. In-between that they'd issued another 7" single in the shape of the superb "Only You Know And I Know" b/w "Sad And Deep As You" in August 1970 on Harvest HAR 5024 – but again it tanked. Considering how good the four songs were – and how radio catchy too – it's amazing now to think that DJs didn't pick up on either. Mason also contributed to the George Harrison colossus "All Things Must Pass" which saw his work on the 3LP Box Set released late November 1970 - this should have given Dave Mason more profile to the October 1970 UK release of the "Alone Together" LP - but naught happened. In fact when I now replay killers like "Only You Know And I Know" and "Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave" - it's hard to understand why Joe Public in Blighty didn't pay any attention to their native son. "Only You Know And I Know" in particular is one of those songs that gets covered to buggery precisely because its so damn catchy - Rita Coolidge did it on her 1971 A&M Records LP "Nice Feelin'" - Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett tapped it in October 1971 as a 45 in the UK on Atco 2091 151 - then again on their March 1972 LP on CBS Records "D & B Together" - and as recently as 2002 American R&B lover Joan Osbourne did a stunning Funk version of it for her "How Sweet It Is" covers CD album.

The " friend I have is me..." lyrics of "Waitin' On You" threaten to derail a great little rock song and Eric Clapton famously puts in what many feel is his best ever 'guitar solo' on the near eight-minute Side 2 finisher "Look At You, Look At Me". Mason's brilliant "Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave" was a featured track on the Harvest Records 4CD expansion of the 1970 2LP label sampler "Picnic: A Breath Of Fresh Air" in 2007 - and check out the superb cover of "Can't Stop Worrying, Can't Stop Loving" by Steve Ellis of The Love Affair (and Ellis) on Disc 3 of the June 2015 "Time Has Changed Us" 3CD retrospective on RPM Records (see separate review). The hurting "Sad And Deep As You" is a piano ballad that is so pretty while "Just A Song" could almost be America or even acoustic Supertramp. I’m finding all I need in this great little album...

Since the advent of CD the album "Alone Together" has become something a darling with audiophile reissue companies like Mobile Fidelity and regularly shown up on Japanese SHM-CD versions with that famous 'head and top-hat' die-cut artwork - each falling over themselves to get out a CD variant out there that will easily trounce the dreadful quality of the original splatter-vinyl LPs. Many are deleted now and cost a hefty chunk of change – but the Rev-Ola reissue and remaster offers superb audio for a reasonable sum and makes accessible a truly great album you will want in your CD player. I'll tip my top hat to that...

PS: Rev-ola have also reissued and remastered his 2nd LP with Mama Cass Elliot called "Dave Mason and Cass Elliot" in 2008 on Rev-ola CD REV 255 (Barcode 5013929455528) – use the Barcode on Amazon to locate my review of this equally good Audio delight.

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