Wednesday, 3 August 2016

"Dave Mason & Cass Elliot" by DAVE MASON & CASS ELLIOT (2008 Rev-Ola CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...





"...Walk To The Point Of No Return..."

Sometimes an album is misunderstood - and the harmony pairing of Traffic's Dave Mason (the Englishman) with one quarter of The Mama's And The Papa's vocal powerhouse Cass Elliot (the American Lady) is a case in point.

I had a British copy of the 1971 album on the pink Probe label in its cool stippled gatefold sleeve and used to play "Walk To The Point" - but not much else. In no time I got rid of it and haven’t played the whole thing for the guts of 40 years. But this 2008 CD by 'Rev-Ola' - resplendent with truly amazing Audio quality - has changed my duo tune. Here are the factoids first...

UK released June 2008 - "Dave Mason And Cass Elliot" by DAVE MASON and CASS ELLIOT on Rev-Ola CD REV 255 (Barcode 5013929455528) is a straightforward CD Remaster of their 1971 10-track LP and plays out as follows (34:10 minutes):

1. Walk To The Point
2. On And On
3. To Be Free
4. Here We Go Again
5. Pleasing You
6. Sit And Wonder [Side 2]
7. Something To Make You Happy
8. Too Much Truth, Too Much Love
9. Next To You
10. Glittering Facade
Tracks 1 to 10 are his 2nd solo LP "Dave Mason & Cass Elliot" - released February 1971 in the USA on Blue Thumb BTS-8825 and May 1971 in the UK on Probe Records SPBA 6259. Produced by DAVE MASON and CASS ELLIOT - it peaked at No. 49 on the USA LP charts (didn't chart in the UK).

The foldout inlay spreads into six squares on either side – one whole side taken up with the American ABC-Dunhill/Blue Thumb advert for the LP which also plugs the "Waitin' On You" 45 on Blue Thumb 7122 (with "Just A Song" from the 1970 "Alone Together" LP as its B-side). DUGLAS T STEWART provides the April 2006 liner notes that explain how their pairing arrived (Mama Cass had just put up new mum Leah Kunkel (her sister) in her California apartment when Mason and Elliot were introduced - playing songs together thereafter). 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...

Instead of leading off with the brilliant and touching "Walk To The Point" (a Dave Mason original) - Blue Thumb decided instead on the rather sappy Mama's & Papa's identikit pop of "Something To Make You Happy" as the album's first 7" single in late December 1970. There's a rare Promo-Only titled sleeve for the American 45 where Dave and Cass are announced as 'newly married' - shame Rev-Ola didn't use it in the inlay (the album cut "Next To You" was on the flip-side). Funky-Soulful songwriter Ned Doheny would make solo album inroads himself in 1976 with his own "Hard Candy" LP that contained the wicked "Get It Up For Love" track (see separate review) - here Doheny gets an early writer's credit for the very CSNY-sounding "On And On" - a quality song. Dave Mason throws in composition number two with "To Be Free" - a typically upbeat 'in love with love' summery song. Better is the Bryan Garo (Bassist on the sessions) and Cass Elliot penned "Here We Go Again" - an album highlight with great vocals and string arrangements that work rather than overload. Side 1 ends with "Pleasing You" where Paul Harris and that chunky organ sound of his (later with Stephen Stills' Manassas) add a lot to the song.

Side 2 opens with a lovely melody - "Sit And Wonder" - a searching for meaning song. One of the album's prettier melodies "Too Much Truth, Too Much Love" was chosen as a Blue Thumb 45 with the equally good "Walk To The Point" on the flipside - but the 'i want everyone to feel fine' melody didn't chart. The impressive axe work on "Next To You" tries hard to move your feet but doesn't quite convince. But the album does end on the excellent "Glittering Facade" - a sort of mid-tempo keyboard and acoustic guitar funk where Mason lets fly up and down the frets while once again Paul Harris adds hugely to proceedings with those keyboard fills.

Is this Dave Mason and Mama Cass Elliot duet album as good as the preceding "Alone Together" set with the mighty trio of "Only You And I Know" (covered by Rita Coolidge and Joan Osbourne), "Can't Stop Worrying, Can't Stop Living" (covered by Steve Ellis of The Love Affair) and "Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave" - the answer is unfortunately no.

It’s not a masterpiece for sure - but of Seventies Rock and CSYN/America type harmonies – then that good stuff is more than worth checking out (and the Audio will impress too).

PS: I have the Rev-Ola June 2008 CD Remaster of his solo debut LP from 1970 "Alone Together" and it sounds just as awesome too...

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