Dave Mason

It's Like You Never Left/Dave Mason

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When Dave Mason released his albums It's Like You Never Left (October 1973) and Dave Mason (October 1974), his career was in a rebuilding mode. After his on-again, off-again tenure in Traffic, Mason had scored a surprising success with his solo debut album Alone Together (June 1970), which reached number 22 during 25 weeks in the Billboard LP chart, throwing off the singles chart entry "Only You Know and I Know" and eventually going gold. Then, Mason had paired with Cass Elliot in a short-lived duo that produced a modest-selling album. A dispute with his record company, Blue Thumb, next arose, such that he disavowed the label's release of what was intended as his second solo album, Headkeeper (February 1972), and declared bankruptcy to get out of his contract. Columbia Records president Clive Davis then signed him, but by the time It's Like You Never Left was ready, Davis had been fired and his protégés were not being given top priority. That was too bad, because It's Like You Never Left was a worthy if belated follow-up to Alone Together. Mason had called in a few favors: Graham Nash sang harmony vocals on "Baby, Please," "Every Woman," and a new version of "Head Keeper"; Stevie Wonder played harmonica on "The Lonely One"; and "Son of Harry" (George Harrison under a pseudonym for contractual reasons) contributed slide guitar to "If You've Got Love." It was still Mason's show, however, as he came up with another collection of melodic love songs with arrangements dominated by his electric and acoustic guitar work and smooth singing. The songs were not as compelling as those on Alone Together, but they were in the same basic style. Despite Columbia's relative indifference, Mason's touring managed to keep the album in the charts 28 weeks with a peak at number 50.

Dave Mason may have been done too soon in the sense that Mason hadn't come up with an album's worth of good new material. In fact, he had only six new songs, filling up the collection with covers of Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home to Me" and Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" (in an arrangement that recalled the Jimi Hendrix version on which Mason had appeared), as well as a remake of "Every Woman" from the previous album in a longer, more elaborate arrangement with strings. (The version on It's Like You Never Left, despite the presence of Nash, was a near-demo running only one-minute-and-40-seconds.) The new songs were good ones, however, particularly "Show Me Some Affection." And while there were no hotshot guest stars this time, the musicians were Mason's road band, including second guitarist Jim Krueger, who would be Mason's partner for many years to come, and keyboardist Mike Finnigan, plus the rhythm section of bassist Bob Glaub and drummer Rick Jagger. The result was a more cohesive band sound in the playing that actually made Dave Mason a stronger musical effort than its predecessor. It also sold better, reaching number 25 during a 25-week chart run and going gold within two years. Even though a hit single would elude Mason until he came up with "We Just Disagree" in 1977, many of the songs on It's Like You Never Left and Dave Mason joined perennials such as "Feelin' Alright?" and "Only You Know and I Know" in his concert repertoire, and these albums helped re-establish him with fans. [Over the years, several different record companies licensed It's Like You Never Left and Dave Mason from Columbia Records for reissue together on a single CD. In 2007, the British Acadia label accidentally pressed its version with the tracks from Dave Mason sequenced ahead of those from It's Like You Never Left, even though the CD booklet indicated that the opposite was the case; thus, on this disc, the tracks shown as one-ten were really ten-nineteen, and those shown as eleven-nineteen were really one-nine.]

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