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Alone Together
Dave Mason

Blue Thumb 19
Released: June 1970
Chart Peak: #22
Weeks Charted: 25
Certified Gold: 2/7/74

Dave MasonLike Traffic's new album John Barleycorn Must Die, former Traffic member Dave Mason's Alone Together is a good album -- careful, well played, occasionally brilliant and well-conceived -- but like John Barleycorn, Alone Together never breaks its vinyl bonds and soars. The songwriting talent of Mason remains undiminished on Alone Together, and his easy fluid voice, long in Traffic vocalist Stevie Winwood's giant shadow, is used to maximum effect.

This is, of course, the marbled LP, a brilliant burst of color spinning on the turntable, the grooves barely discernible so the needle seems to be floating across the record. Maybe the next step could be a little cartoon around the edge of the record, like those flip-the-pages funnies, or a slow inward spiral so you could be literally hypnotized by the record.

The music is vintage Mason, veering here and there towards commercialism but never quite getting there, slick but not offensive. Falling in line with the rest of Great Britain, Mason chose old Delaney and Bonnie sidemen for the session, including Leon Russell, Jim Keltner, Carl Radle and Rita Coolidge, plus old Mother Don Preston. Russell, as always, is much in evidence, and his piano (if it is him -- the album doesn't say and we have only internal evidence), particularly on "Sad and Deep As You," is masterful.

The high point of the album is clearly "Look at You Look at Me," a song Mason wrote with Trafficker Jim Capaldi, whose tight, urgent drumming on the cut moves the song along with descretion and skill. Mason's singing is simply superb. The other exceptional cuts are "Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave" (Mason is not, between you and me, a great song titlist), which features the best wah-wah guitar since Clapton's initial exposition on "Tales of Brave Ulysses"; and "World in Changes," with Mason's deceptively simple lyrics pulled along by some brilliant organ work.

High commercial potential on the album is represented by "Only You Know and I Know," which has a rick-ticky rhythm reminiscent of "You Can All Join In." It's really a trivial song (like others on the album, particularly "Waitin' On You" and "Just A Song"), but it will sound great on a tinny AM radio at 60 miles an hour.

Further reading on
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But the album is more potential than realization. It is, in a very real sense, flawless, but, as Paul McCartney is beginning to learn, great music is much better than flawless music.

- Jon Carroll, Rolling Stone, 9/3/70.

Bonus Reviews!

Mason with help from friends Jim Capaldi and Leon Russell proves his mastery of the rock idiom once and for all. The lyric content and music content of every song catches the senses of the listener and creates excitement. There is no doubt about the power of this album, and it should prove a top chart item.

- Billboard, 1970.

I know, the real heavy in Traffic, great songwriter, poor Stevie is lost without him, Delaney & Bonnie on tour, rakka-rakka-rakka. I love "Feelin' Alright" myself. But I've never wondered for a second what it means, and only when the music is as elemental as "Feelin' Alright" can such questions be overlooked. I mean, songs have words. This is both complex and likable-to-catchy, with a unique light feel that begins with the way Mason doubles on acoustic and electric. But he doesn't have the poetic gift that might justify his withdrawal from "games of reason" in the immodestly entitled "Just a Song." Songs have words. B

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

Mason's first solo effort after leaving the legendary Traffic, Alone Together is a good, but not great record -- too well-crafted, too safe. Nonetheless, his reputation as a composer, guitarist, and singer of the first rank is both merited and in evidence here. In addition, Mason is supported by first-rate musicians who work effectively together. The highlights include "Only You Know and I Know," "World In Changes," and "Look at You Look at Me." The sound is essentially equivalent to the LP. B-

- Bill Shapiro, Rock & Roll Review: A Guide to Good Rock on CD, 1991.

Mason's debut solo album remains his best effort, due to well-crafted tracks like the hit "Only You Know & I Know" and an appealing easy-going rock sound that presents a nice blend of acoustic and electric instrumentation. * * * *

- Rick Clark, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

Alone Together is a bit deficient in the lyric department (always a Mason problem) but offers music so perfect that here, for once, that shortcoming can be overlooked. There's more forward momentum here than on all his Columbia work combined. * * * * 1/2

- Steve Holtje, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

 Reader's Comments

Jay Dubbiyou

It's not the Don Preston of the Mothers playing here. It's the Leon Russell sidekick guitarist of the same name. Also, Clapton plays lead guitar on ONLY YOU KNOW AND I KNOW and Wrecking Crew member Larry Knechtel who is credited with bass plays the Hammond organ (uncredited) on WORLD IN CHANGES. Niether Russell or John Simon (both primarily piano players) who are the credited keyboardists could play a Hammond like that. Knechtel most certainly could.

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