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Friday’s Dave Mason show at Capitol canceled

Bill DeYoung

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Editors’ note: Capitol Theatre management notified us that this show – in fact, the entire tour – was canceled Wednesday afternoon.

Dave Mason was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, as a member of Traffic. Although his contributions to that legendary English band were many, and profound, Mason was already living in America, working as a solo artist, when Traffic’s biggest moments (The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, John Barleycorn Must Die) arrived.

In advance of the singer/guitarist’s appearance this Friday at the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater, here’s a chronological and curated – and purely subjective – list of 10 of his greatest recordings as a solo artist. Mason was on fire in the 1970s, creating distinctive rock ‘n’ roll records that, in some cases, have never been bettered.

His detour out of Traffic, it would seem, was the best thing that ever happened to him.

Editors’ note: Capitol Theatre management notified us that this show – in fact, the entire tour – was canceled Wednesday afternoon.

 

Only You Know and I Know. This was a hit for the great Delaney and Bonnie, with whom Mason had toured. His version, however, is the definitive one.

Look at You Look at Me. The haunting closing track from Alone Together, Mason’s nearly-flawless solo debut. Listen to his guitar work here.

Walk to the Point. From a duo album with Cass Elliott. It’s atmospheric, almost spectral pop. The acoustic guitar runs and reappearing riffs are a key part of the aural mosaic, along with great piano work.

Headkeeper. I prefer the later version, from It’s Like You Never Left, because it rocks more fiercely than the earlier recording, from the unfinished Headkeeper album.

Baby … Please. The lyrics aren’t much, but Mason locks in a groove at the outlet and it never lets up. This is a great example of the way his layering of electric and acoustic guitars creates a sonic atmosphere. Graham Nash’s high harmonies are in the clouds.

Misty Morning Stranger. Same as above, but with horns on top. And a hell of a hook.

Show Me Some Affection. Dave Mason (’74) was the first to feature his touring band; this song is a three-minute snapshot of what made them so good (including tight harmony vocals and Mike Finngan’s oh-so-distinctive organ playing).

So High. Written by Mentor Williams, of “Drift Away” fame, “So High (Rock Me Baby and Roll Me Away)” is incessantly catchy and good-natured. It has an elevational effect. It’s also this writer’s favorite song from the Dave Mason canon.

We Just Disagree. Dave’s biggest hit single, it went to No. 12, and is still played today. “We Just Disagree” was written by Jim Krueger, the second guitarist in Mason’s band at the time (1977). That’s Krueger and Mason on acoustic guitars and harmonizing vocals. A great record.

Save Me. “Paul McCartney wasn’t the first white guy to sing with Michael Jackson,” Mason is fond of saying, and it’s true. Mike happened to be cutting Thriller in an adjacent studio, and he jumped at Mason’s invitation to add his vocals to this track from the Old Crest on a New Wave album. In I Need to Know: The Lost Music Interviews, Mason reported: “He said, ‘Man, I’d love to. When I was seven years old, I did a TV special with Diana Ross and we did ‘Feelin’ Alright?’”

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    jo

    April 21, 2021at3:36 pm

    Thanks for this great piece, Bill. Dave Mason’s album with Mama Cass is still one of my favorites.

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