Dave Mason and Cass Elliot
Band members Related acts
- Cass Elliot (RIP 1973) -- vocals
- Dave Mason -- vocals, guitar
- Bryan Garo -- bass
- Paul Harris -- keyboards, strings
- Russ Kunkel -- drums, percussion
- The Big Three (Cass Elliot)
- Cass Elliot (solo efforts)
- Dave Mason (solo efforts)
- The Mamas and the Papas (Cass Elliot)
- The Mugwamps (Cass Elliot)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Dave Mason and Cass Elliot
Company: Blue Thumb
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: gatefold sleeve
Catalog ID: 1671
Not that I'm an expert, but 1971's Dave Mason and Cass Elliot collaboration always struck me as an oddball project. The two just didn't seem to have a great deal of commonality between them - you got the image of some marketing folks looking through their respective talent rosters and going, well these two folks are past their commercial primes, so why don't se wee if we can squeeze a couple of bucks out of their remaining fan bases by putting them together ... That said, the pair apparently met in the late-'60s and immediately took a liking to one another, deciding to try a collaboration. Cass had already recorded a pair of solo LPs, while Mason was about to record his second post-Traffic solo project.
Produced by the pair, "Dave Mason and Cass Elliot" the first couple of times I heard the album in simply failed to make any impression on me. There wasn't anything wrong with it, rather it was just kind of anonymous and dull. Funny since I've always liked Mason and Elliot in other endeavors. About five years ago I found a copy at a yard sale and picked it up out of curiosity. It took a couple of years for me to get around to actually listening to the set. Well talk about surprises. I have absolutely no idea why the album initially railed to register with me. It's quite good.
Like many folks, I'd largely forgotten what a talented guy Mason was. Similarly, folks tend to ignore the fact Elliot was a highly talented singer - instead focusing on the inconsequential aspects of her life. That said, this may have been billed as a collaboration, but for all intents and purposes, it served as a Mason solo effort. Offering up a mixture of covers and originals, there were five Mason tunes, while Elliott (never a prolific writer), was represented by two tunes ('Here We Go Again' and 'Something To Make You Happy'). Similarly, Mason handled most of the lead vocals, Elliot taking the spotlight on the sappy ballad 'Here We Go Again' and sharing leads on the beautiful ballad 'Sit and Wonder' and the single 'Something To Make You Happy'. Elsewhere she was largely limited to backing vocals. That's not intended to minimize her contributions since her harmonies made all the differences on tunes like 'To Be Free', 'Pleasing You', and ''. Still, it would have been nice to see what they could have come up with a more equitable partnership.
Mason and Cass Elliot" track listing:
1.) Walk To the Point (Dave Mason) - 4:00
I'm as guilty as anyone in forgetting what a talented guy Mason was and on the leadoff ballad 'Walk To the Point' those talents showed up in his fine acoustic guitar work and his, crisp, laidback vocals. Interestingly, the tune sounded very much like a solo effort. Ironically, as one of the standout performances on the album, Cass was largely invisible on this one. rating: **** stars
2.) On and On (Ned Doheny) - 3:35
'On and On' was a fantastic folk-rock tune that served to showcase just how well Elliot and Mason's voices could blend. rating: **** stars
3.) To Be Free (Dave Mason) - 3:34
One of the album's prettiest mid-tempo rockers, 'To Be Free' was another tune that showed off the pair's wonderful harmonies. Kicked along by Russ Kunkel's percussion, it would have made a dandy FM single. Mason rerecorded the tune a couple of years later, though his stripped down solo version wasn't nearly as good. rating: **** stars
4.) Here We Go Again (Bryan Gardo - Cass Elliot) - 2:49
One of two tunes co-written by Elliot, 'Here We Go Again' was also gave her a shot at the vocal spotlight. The result was a pretty, but overly orchestrated and ultimately forgettable ballad. Another tune that Mason included in his solo repertoire for years. rating: *** stars
5.) Pleasing You (Dave Mason - J. Juster) - 3:02
'Pleasing You' was a bouncy pop-rock tune that sounded like a precursor to Mason's forthcoming late-'70s string of hits. Again, Elliot was limited to backing vocals, though she made the tune much better (along with Paul Harris' keyboards). rating: **** stars
Another pretty acoustic ballad featuring some of Mason's nicest lyrics and one of his best vocal performances. Highly commercial and probably the tune I would have tapped as a single. Elliot got to handle part of the lead, but didn't make her presence felt until midway through the tune. rating: **** stars
2.) Something To Make You Happy (Dave Mason - Cass Elliot) - 2:15
The only written collaboration between the pair, 'Something To Make You Happy' was also the album's most outright commercial tune. With Elliot and Mason sharing lead vocals (their voices blended nicely), it was a sweet, bouncy pop-ballad that came the closest of all the songs to reminding me of her Mamas and the Papas catalog, it snuck into your head and wouldn't leave, that probably explains why the tune was tapped as the first of two singles:
- 1971's 'Something To Make You Happy' b/w 'Next To You' (ABC Dunhill catalog number 45-D-4266) rating: **** stars
3.) Too Much Truth, Too Much Love (Dave Mason) - 3:49
The album's second single, 'Too Much Truth, Too Much Love' took while to grow on me, but ultimately became a personal favorite. Part of the initial problem was the tune had an awkward country twang, but when Elliot's harmonies kicked in the track took a dramatic turn toward pop territory. Nice guitar on this one.
- 1972's 'Too Much Truth, Too Much Love' b/w 'Walk To the Point' (ABC Dunhill catalog number 45-D-4271) rating: *** stars
4.) Next To You (Bryan Garo) - 2:31
Written by bassist Bryan Garo, 'Next to You' was the album's first mis-step,. The song had a clumsy structure; lacked much in the way of melody, and neither Mason, or Elliot sounded particularly comfortable on this one. If you had to say something nice about it, the you had to acknowledge Elliot for her efforts to break out of her conventional pop environment with a tougher, rock-oriented tune. She didn't sound half bad. rating; *** stars
5.) Glittering Facade (Dave Mason) - 4:45
Even though she was relegated to the background vocals, 'Glittering Facade' was another tune that seemed geared to moving Elliot to a more rock oriented sound. Complete with a Traffic-styled sound (check out the organ riffs), and some of Mason's best guitar playing, this one was a full success.
The pair don't seem to have done a great deal to promote the album. They played a pair of concerts together and appeared on a couple of television shows. The absence of much support saw the collection peak at # 49 on the US pop charts.
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: + Fours
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: 45,rpm 4 track EP; UK pressing
Catalog ID: 6319
I didn't realize that ABC released a series of these + Fours EPs ... I've known and owned the Steely Dan set for years, but had never seen this Dave Mason until recently. Interestingly, at least to my mind the Steely Dan set kind of made sense - a 45 rpm, four track EP meant to introduce English audiences to an American act that hadn't enjoyed much commercial success in the UK. Given Dave Mason was English and had enjoyed considerable success as a founding member of Traffic and as a solo act, I'm not quite sure what drove the release of this collection.
Regardless, 1977's "+ Fours" pulled together three tracks from Mason's 1970 solo debut "Alone Together". Easily his best solo album, 'Only You Know and I Know', 'Can't Stop Worrying, Can't Stop Loving', and 'World In Change' were among the standout tracks on that album. The oddball track here was a live version of Traffic's 'Pearly Queen'. I'm too lazy to actually check it out, but my guess is that it was pulled from Mason's 1973 "Headkeeper" album which included a side of live material recorded at L.A. Troubadour Club. Simply because it was somewhat obscure and showcased Mason's frequently overlooked guitar prowess, it was the EP's most interesting number.
"+ Fours" track listing:
1.) Only You Know and I Know (Dave Mason) -
2.) Can't Stop Worrying, Can't Stop Loving (Dave Mason) -
World In Change (Dave Mason) -
BACK TO BADCAT FRONT PAGE
BACK TO BADCAT CATALOG PAGE
BACK TO BADCAT PAYMENT INFORMATION