[Review] Dave Mason: Split Coconut (1975)

Another album of mid-tempo rock. He does appear to have shaved his beard; otherwise, it’s identical to his last.

Kronomyth 7.0: TropiCalifornia rock.

Dave Mason continued to maintain a high profile despite his lack of a hit single. He graced the cover of Guitar Player Magazine (October 1975), rested comfortably in the US Top 40 with his new album (Split Coconut) and went out on tour with the latest version of the Dave Mason Band. The tropical album cover and two island-themed opening tracks are a tease, however; Split Coconut is simply a continuation of the music that Mason had been making all along. It’s a professional affair from beginning to end, with some updated keyboard sounds (courtesy of Mark Jordan and Jay Winding, in what appears to be a mid-session keyboard chair change) and an extra infusion of funk (“Split Coconut,” “Save Your Love”).

If Mason seems to have settled into a groove as far as making solo records, longtime listeners will settle into the same groove soon enough. “Save Your Love,” “Two Guitar Lovers” (written by singer Maureen Gray, who had performed with George Harrison, John Lennon and Eric Clapton), an island-tinged cover of Buddy Holly’s “Crying, Waiting & Hoping” and the freebirdin’ “Long Lost Friend” are all solid songs. The rest of the record is the same sort of generic guitar rock you’ll find on most of Mason’s mid-Seventies records.

I realize that “generic” is a dismissive word, and I don’t mean to dismiss the man’s effort; instead, the sensation on these records is that Mason is more or less trying to write the same kind of song ten different times, and so you don’t encounter the range of styles that you might on a George Harrison or Eric Clapton record. His workmanlike approach to songwriting also means that nothing on here is a work of art so much as well-crafted product. Splitting hairs, I suppose, since you either like Dave Mason or you don’t, with love and hate being rare reactions.

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Original LP Version

A1. Split Coconut (Dave Mason) (3:39)
A2. Crying, Waiting & Hoping (Buddy Holly) (2:43)
A3. You Can Lose It (Dave Mason/Jim Krueger) (3:04)
A4. She’s A Friend (Dave Mason) (2:54)
A5. Save Your Love (Dave Mason) (4:17)
B1. Give Me A Reason Why (Dave Mason) (5:01)
B2. Two Guitar Lovers (Maureen Grey) (3:33)
B3. Sweet Music (Dave Mason) (3:21)
B4. Long Lost Friend (Dave Mason) (4:26)

The Players

Dave Mason (guitar and lead vocals), Rick Jaeger (drums), Gerald Johnson (bass), Mark Jordan (keyboards, clavinet, organ, ARP), Jim Krueger (guitar), Jay Winding (piano, organ, synthesizer) with David Crosby & Graham Nash (background vocals on A3/A4/B1/B2), The Manhattan Transfer (vocals on A2/B4), Emil Richards (marimba on A2). Produced by Dave Mason and Bruce Botnick; recorded and mixed by Bruce Botnick.

The Pictures

Photography by Ethan Russell, assisted by Jim Shea. Illustration by Joe Garnett & Ron Kriss. Design by Ron Coro.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and quadrophonic elpee, cassette and 8-track on September 19, 1975 in the US (Columbia, PC/PCQ/PCT/PCA 33698), the UK (CBS, S 69163), Australia (CBS, SBP 234748) and Japan (CBS Sony, SOPO-105) with gatefold cover; reached #27 on the US charts. (Note: It appears the UK release was pushed to October, since the UK tour announcements in late September indicated that the album would be coming shortly. I know, who cares, right? Me, that’s who.)

  1. Re-issued on compact disc on January 21, 1994 in Japan (Sony, SRCS-6364).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in September 1995 in the US (One Way, A 26079).
  3. Re-packaged with Dave Mason on remastered 2-for-1 compact disc in 2008 in the UK (Beat Goes On, BGOCD848).
  4. Re-issued on compact disc on April 14, 2010 in Japan (Sony, SICP-2649).

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