Archive for Dave Mason

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Dave Mason & Cass Elliott

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , on January 29, 2011 by 30daysout

Continuing our month’s worth of duet albums (ending on the weekend before Valentine’s Day), we listen today to the unlikely pairing of former Traffic guitarist/singer Dave Mason and Cass Elliott, of the Mamas and the Papas.  Released in 1971, Dave Mason & Cass Elliott serves as a followup to Mason’s solo debut, Alone Together (1970).  Elliott had released a couple solo LPs in the late 1960s but when she cut this album with Mason the Mamas and the Papas were still an active group.

Mason is, of course, the odd man out in Traffic, the guy who wrote such pop-rock classics as “Feelin’ Alright” and “Hole In My Shoe” to balance out the jazz-rock-blues influence of Steve Winwood.  He co-founded the group, left after its first album, participated only in part of the recording of the second album, then the group broke up.  Traffic re-formed in 1970 without Mason, because he was on his way as a solo artist.  Mason was also known for appearing on recordings by other artists, such as Jimi Hendrix (“All Along The Watchtower”), George Harrison (All Things Must Pass) and Graham Nash-David Crosby (“Immigration Man”).

Mason met Elliott through a mutual friend, and both artists sought out the collaborative atmosphere of recording with a group.  Because it was originally planned as a Dave Mason solo work, Dave Mason & Cass Elliott isn’t really a true “duet” album – Mason writes most of the songs and sings most of the leads with Elliott merely chiming in with background vocals.  She does get a few “spotlight” vocals, most notably “Here We Go Again,” which she wrote with Bryan Garo.  Cass also co-wrote, with Mason, “Something To Make You Happy,” which would become the lead single off the album.

This is a good example of the solid work that the era’s superstars excelled in.  Relaxed without sounding forced, mellow without being too wimpy, Dave Mason & Cass Elliott is a class work from both artists.  Mason wrote some of his best songs for this album, and Elliott’s unselfish work on vocals help produce a very listenable album.  I’ve seen reviews that describe this as “bland and predictable,” which was the criticism for much of Mason’s later solo work, but I think Dave Mason & Cass Elliott is a nice, breezy 1970s West Coast middle-of-the-road rock album.

Elliott would continue her solo career with more albums, television appearances and the occasional acting gig.  In 1974, she had just performed a series of sold-out shows when she died in her sleep of a heart attack.  She was 32.  Mason would continue his solo career with moderate success, including the Top 20 hit “We Just Disagree” in 1977.  He joined Fleetwood Mac briefly in the 1990s and continues to perform live shows and record sporadically today.

MP3: “To Be Free”

MP3: “Something To Make You Happy”

MP3: “Here We Go Again”

MP3: “Glittering Facade”

Check the other duets we’ve spun in recent weeks

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Delaney & Bonnie & Friends

Posted in Rock Classics! with tags , , , , , , , on February 26, 2010 by 30daysout

Today we have a great album to share:  D&B Together, from Delaney & Bonnie & Friends.  The husband-and-wife team of Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett put out some great records in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  They started out on Stax Records, and you can get an idea of what these two funky white folks had to sound like to record for the likes of Stax (home to Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, etc.).

Delaney Bramlett is one of the great rock bandleaders, perhaps underrated today but certainly not when he was in his prime.  Bramlett not only had his fiercely soulful singin’ wife, but he recruited some of the greatest musicians to play backup on those Delaney & Bonnie albums.  D&B Together, from 1972, is the duo’s sixth album and man, they don’t cut records like this any more.

First, the band: Delaney, on guitar and vocals; Bonnie, vocals; drums, Jim Gordon (Derek & the Dominos); bass, Kenny Gradney (Little Feat); keyboards, Billy Preston!; keyboards and vocals, Leon Friggin’ Russell!; more bass, Carl Radle (Derek & the Dominos); more drums, Jaimoe (Allman Brothers); more keyboards, Bobby Whitlock (Derek & the Dominos); and even more bass, James Jamerson (Motown)!  Now the guitar players – Eric Clapton, Steve “The Colonel” Cropper, Dave Mason and Duane Friggin’ Allman!  Nice, eh?

The album kicks off with Mason’s “Only You Know and I Know,” which was a hit for Delaney & Bonnie.  Led by Bonnie’s soulful vocals (with backing vocals – oh I forgot those – by Merry Clayton, Rita Coolidge, Clydie King, Tina Turner and Eddie Kendricks, among others) the song establishes the easy rockin’ and intoxicating mash of soul, rock, blues and country that seemed to be so easy and unforced back in the early 1970s.  “Wade In The River of Jordan” could have been a tambourine-shaker from any white or black country church, and Delaney’s “Well Well” is another tasty slab of rockin’ soul.

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Classic Rockers – Fall 2008 edition

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 24, 2008 by 30daysout

            

Way back in 1978, the Grateful Dead had this hare-brained (drug-fueled) idea that if they played near the Great Pyramids in Egypt during a total eclipse of the moon and wired up one of the ancient burial rooms as an echo chamber then … something cosmic would happen.  It didn’t, and now you can hear the proof for yourself.  Rocking The Cradle: Egypt 1978, a three-disc set (2 CDs, 1 DVD), is a record of a lackluster concert with few highlights – “Fire On The Mountain” has a little more energy than most of the stuff here, possibly because it was a fairly new song at the time.  For Deadheads only; especially the awful home-movie DVD.

MP3: “Fire On The Mountain” (live) by the Grateful Dead

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Lost Classics! David Blue

Posted in Lost Classics!, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on June 15, 2008 by 30daysout

David Blue was part of the early 1960s Greenwich Village folk music scene that also gave fame to Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, Eric Anderson and of course, Bob Dylan.  Blue originally moved to New York to become an actor, and he wound up making eight albums for Warner-Reprise and Elektra-Asylum between 1965 and 1976.

His sixth album Nice Baby and the Angel was released in 1973 and it is an all-star affair.  Produced by Graham Nash, the album features guitar work from Dave Mason (Traffic) and David Lindley (Jackson Browne), bass from Chris Ethridge (Flying Burrito Brothers) and drums by John Barbata (the Turtles, Jefferson Airplane).  Nash, Jennifer Warnes and Glenn Frey (the Eagles) lend backing vocals on a few songs.

Blue’s most famous song appears here: “Outlaw Man,” which was covered in 1973 by the Eagles for their dreary Desperado album.  Blue’s original is a faster, more rocking version, with slightly different lyrics and a tasty guitar lead from Dave Mason. 

David Blue never received the acclaim some of his colleagues did.  He died in 1982, while jogging through Washington Square Park in New York City.

MP3: “Outlaw Man”

MP3: “Darlin’ Jenny”