Let It Flow
Columbia PC 34680
Released: April 1977
Chart Peak: #37
Weeks Charted: 49
Certified Gold: 11/4/77
Fundamental roll is just what Dave Mason's been making all along. His rhythm sections have always sounded cushioned, providing a comfortable but undeniable momentum. Rock's jagged edges were filed away not so much to reach the middle of the read as to satisfy Mason's sense of rolling euphony. Sometimes on Let It Flow that ideal is achieved with greater authority than in Mason's past several LPs; and sometimes the middle of the road simply takes over.
Mason has always had this formula: an attractive instrumental introduction (which recurs), generally followed by a hoary three-chord pattern graced by a sweet, nearly cloying melody. Strangely, "So High (Rock Me Baby and Roll Me Away)," the song that best exemplifies that formula here (and is arguably the LP's best tune), was written by Jack Conrad and Mentor Williams. Despite the orchestral intrusion at its end, "So High" is the freshest thing Mason's done in years, reminding us of his original appeal.
Glitzy orchestral touches abound on Let It Flow, but they're not enough to do in the LP entirely. The title cut, which Mason did write, his the kind of fine, charging refrain and classic chorus that Mason can still spin out un-self-consciously. Mason has not changed much this decade -- and when he has, it's generally been for the worse -- but he's still eminently capable of surprising us, as he does on Let It Flow, with melodic roll of the first order.
- Peter Herbst, Rolling Stone, 6/16/77.
Sweet and think is how Dave Mason lets it flow here, sounding like he's joined the crowd in drifting back toward the straightest, middle-of-the-road, plush-studio kind of sound, which reminds me of pre-rock music and names like Jack Pleis and Hugo Winterhalter. Mason's move toward the most conservatively planned commercial pap this side of Peter Frampton is, sad to say, reflective of the times. The first two songs jibe, one-two, with two of the major themes I see in the late Seventies: the desire to get loaded and forget about the world situation ("Rock me baby and roll me away"), and the pensive, no-heroes-no-villains "relating" we do so much of in our personal lives these days ("There ain't no good guy and there ain't no bad guy... there's just you and me... and we disagree"). But of course it's not an artist's job to be selective about what he or she reflects and then to filter that through a personal vision, not according to a consensus.
One thing Mason deserves credit for here: the album is quite melodic. "Seasons" is so catchy it should keep most buyers from playing most of the rest of the album most of the time. That's something, for a lot of the boys adopting short hair (inside their heads, at least) for the Big Changeover cannot, it turns out, even write melodies, which leaves a lot of that plush studio sound on their albums hanging precariously out at odd angles. Good music to half-listen to seems to be the goal of this movement, and Mason's is a better-than-average example of it.
- Noel Coppage, Stereo Review, 9/77.
Mason is one hit away from being a commercial titan. Somewhat like Boz Scaggs 18 months ago, he still remains a not-fully-appreciated, mature and sophisticated artist of rock. Perhaps his most unique and winning characteristic is his ability to sing with warmth and tenderness over rhythm tracks that rock with power and intensity. Guitarist/singer/writer/producer Mason with the aid of top studio backup vocalists and a guest appearance by Stephen Stills actually sounds rather like the entire Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young classic soft-rock group on the slower numbers. Tasteful insertion of string and horn fills adds to the wide-ranging sound coloration. Perhaps the most instantly accessible Mason LP yet, this follows the veteran rocker's widely successful previous tour and album, building on commercial breakthroughs of last year. This is Grammy-quality work and the product that Mason's long-time following have felt was in him all along. Best cuts: "We Just Disagree," "So High," "Mystic Traveler," "Let It Go, Let It Flow."
- Billboard, 1977.
On Let It Flow, Mason delivered a super-slick bid for radio-friendly pop. He succeeded with three hits, "So High (Rock Me Baby and Roll Me Away)," "Let It Go, Let It Flow," and the richly harmonic "We Just Disagree." * * * *
- Rick Clark, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
Despite several catchy tunes on Let It Flow, Mason's style had come to seem irrelevant, and in the 80s he could be heard singing on Miller beer commercials. * * *
- Steve Holtje, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
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