Wednesday, 4 June 2014

"It's Like You Never Left" by DAVE MASON (of traffic) (2014 Beat Goes On CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry…

DAVE MASON is part of my Series "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters 1970s Rock And Pop" Download Book available to buy on Amazon to either your PC or Mac (it will download the Kindle software to read the book for free to your toolbar). Click on the link below to go my Author's Page for this and other related publications:


"...Troubles To Mend..."

This is a smart reissue by Beat Goes On of the UK. Mason’s 4th Solo album after Traffic has been languishing in digital Purgatory for years (with an early issue garnishing a hefty price tag). And second to his “Alone Together” album on Harvest in 1970 and the wonderful duet album with Mama Cass on Probe in 1971 – 1973’s “It’s Like You Never Left” has long been a fan favourite. Well they’re going to love this beautifully handled remaster with its exceptional sound quality. Here are the cat-on-the-lap details…

UK released 9 June 2014 – "It's Like You Never Left" by DAVE MASON (of Traffic) on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1153 (Barcode 501726211538) is a straightforward CD Remaster of the album and plays out as follows (34:46 minutes): 

1. Baby…Please
2. Every Woman
3. If You’ve Got Love
4. Maybe
5. Head Keeper
6. Misty Mountain Stranger
7. Silent Partner
8. Side Tracked
9. The Lonely One
10. It’s Like You Never Left
Tracks 1 to 10 are the album “It’s Like You Never Left” – originally released October 1973 on vinyl LP in the UK on CBS Records S 65258 and Columbia Records KC 31721 in the USA

The outer card wrap is a nice touch and gives all of these BGO reissues a classy look and feel. The 16-page booklet has superb liner notes by noted writer and music lover JOHN O’REGAN (before and after the album history) and comes complete with lyrics, photos of foreign 45s (Traffic included) and repro details of the inner gatefold sleeve of the original album. But it’s the fabulous new 2014 ANDREW THOMPSON remaster that will thrill – it’s gorgeous and reflects the staggeringly professional self Production job Mason did back in the day. Instruments are warm and clear and there’s no compression to my ears – it’s an album unleashed (bit of a lost class vibe going on too). 

Three tracks on Side 1 feature the superb harmony vocals of Graham Nash adding real back-up punch – the opener “Baby…Please”, then “Every Woman” and the excellent Side finisher “Head Keeper”. A careful listen to the zippy “If You’ve Got Love” and you can quickly name-check the distinctive guitar playing style credited on the sleeve to ‘Son Of Harry’ – it’s George Harrison Of The Beatles using a pseudonym for contractual reasons. 

But there’s much better than that. The sheer melody and acoustic guitar playing on “Maybe” is more than impressive (lyrics from it title this review). The aching words could be a road map to Dave Mason’s life – bad management – restrictive contracts – drug and alcohol abuse – relationship meltdowns. As a song - its extraordinarily pretty music – yet at its core is a strange darkness and pleading that I’ve always found moving (and haunting with phrases like “strangers until our dying day…”).

Vocally too – Mason is also more confident than ever on this album – like he knows the material warrants his best – and the whole shebang is certainly helped by that thoroughly professional Production polish. 

The two Side 2 openers are particular strong – “Misty Mountain Stranger” and the religious “Silent Partner” – both featuring blistering guitar work on Electric and Acoustic - sounding not unlike Emitt Rhodes at his Probe Records best. The funky “Side Tracked” has always been a soft touch for me - a sort of Peter Green/Fleetwood Mac instrumental Rock tune on a Soulful tip. With the rhythm section of Jim Keltner on Drums and Greg Reeves on Bass – it plays up a blinder.  

“The Lonely One” features the distinctive Harmonica of Motown’s legendary Stevie Wonder throughout and is easily the most commercial track on here. CBS Records issued it as a UK 45 in May 1974 on CBS S 2153 with “Misty Morning Stranger” as its B-side (delayed from April). It was a strong song-combo - but of course it went nowhere in Blighty at the time. Perhaps the “God’s Eternal Son…” lyrics of peace and love were out of step with the changing Rock/Pop/Disco landscape. 

So there you have it - a great album given a proper dust off and polish for 2014. Fans will need this and the curious should dig in and give it a lash. 

There’s a lot of quality songmanship and mature playing on Dave Mason’s “It’s Like You Never Left” – and its very sweetly presented too. Nice one…

PS: see also my separate reviews for "Alone Together" (his debut solo LP from 1970) and "Dave Mason And Cass Elliot" (his duet LP with The Mamas and The Papas singer from 1972) – both reissued and remastered by Rev-Ola with superb audio...

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