[Review] Dave Mason: Alone Together (1970)

Probably the best album he’s ever done, this compares favorably to Clapton’s first.

Kronomyth 1.0: Adventures of a freemason.

Since exiting Traffic, Dave Mason seemed to be tailgating Eric Clapton. He appeared with George Harrison on the blockbuster All Things Must Pass sessions, joined Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett’s band and, together with the Bramletts and a familiar cast of L.A.-based session players (Jim Gordon, Carl Radle, Leon Russell, Rita Coolidge, etc.), recorded an album of mellow, earthy rock originals that audibly stepped away from the psychedelic excesses of his past.

That’s not to take anything away from Alone Together, which is a classic example of Seventies rock that perfectly straddles the line between acoustic and electric rock. In fact, song for song, this is probably the best thing that Dave Mason has ever done. The prescient California rock of “Only You And I Know,” the brilliant jam at the end of “Look At You Look At Me,” the fragile “Sad And Deep As You,” and the biting “You Shouldn’t Have Took More Than You Gave” are all classic moments in the canon of Mason. Of course, Clapton was a better guitarist (than everyone) and, surprisingly, a better singer too; Mason rarely seems to reach the depths of pain and emotion that his lyrics would suggest although, here again, I find that his lyrics are frequently too self-referential (e.g., “Just A Song”) to strike a universal chord.

“The songs on Alone Together would have been on the next Traffic album, if I’d still been there. So I was approaching it the way I would have probably done if I’d still been with the band. It was not really any different; all I was doing was putting some acoustic guitar and electric guitar together.” – Dave Mason, in a 2015 interview.

Alone Together and John Barleycorn Must Die do share an affinity for earthier tones; as Welcome To The Canteen revealed, however, Traffic had little to add to Mason’s music at this stage. While the two albums clearly stand on their own, had Mason remained with Traffic and interleaved this material with Barleycorn, it would have been a brilliant double album. Of interest to collectors, the original Blue Thumb elpee release featured one of the earliest examples of colored vinyl (in this case, swirled together) and a diecut gatefold elpee cover that turned into a towering Mason when opened.

Original elpee version

A1. Only You And I Know (4:05)
A2. Can’t Stop Worrying, Can’t Stop Loving (3:02)
A3. Waitin’ On You (3:05)
A4. Shouldn’t Have Took More Than You Gave (6:00)
B1. World In Changes (4:30)
B2. Sad And Deep As You (3:35)
B3. Just A Song (2:59)
B4. Look At You Look At Me (Dave Mason/Jim Capaldi) (7:22)

All songs written by Dave Mason unless noted.

The Players

Dave Mason with John Barbata, Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett, Jim “Gentle Heart” Capaldi, Mike Coolidge, Rita Coolidge, Lou Cooper, Mike De Temple, Chris Ethridge, Jim Gordon, Jim Keltner, Larry Knectel, Claudia Lennear, Bob Norwood, Don Preston, Carl Radle, Leon Russell, John Simon, Jack Storti. Produced by Tommy Li Puma and Dave Mason; recording engineered by Bruce Botnick and Doug Botnick; mix engineered by Al Schmitt.

The Pictures

Package concept, design & photography by Tom Wilkes & Barry Feinstein for Camouflage Productions.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, colored vinyl elpee and 8-track in June 1970 in the US (Blue Thumb, BTS-19/BLE M 819) and Japan (Blue Thumb, SR-465) with regular gatefold and lyrics innersleeve or diecut foldout cover. Reached #22 on the US charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in 1973 in Japan (Blue Thumb, SWX-6094) with gatefold cover.
  2. Re-issued on elpee in the US (ABC/Blue Thumb, BTS-19) and the UK (ABC, ABCL 5191) with gatefold cover (no diecut).
  3. Re-issued on elpee in 1980 in the US (MCA, MCA-23075).
  4. Re-issued on compact disc in the US (MCA, MCAD-31170).
  5. Re-released on remastered compact disc in 1993 in the US (Mobile Fidelity, UDCD-573).
  6. Re-released on 180g vinyl elpee in 1995 in the US (MCA, MCA-11319) with gatefold cover.
  7. Re-packaged with Headkeeper on 2-for-1 remastered compact disc on July 12, 2005 (Beat Goes On, 675).
  8. Re-issued on compact disc in 2006 in Japan (Geffen/Universal, UICY-93009).
  9. Re-issued on compact disc in 2008 in the UK (Cherry Red, CRREV-251).
  10. Re-issued on 180g vinyl elpee in 2018 (Friday Music, FRM-19).

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