Cherry Red has recently re-pressed a gem from two shining talents of the early ’70s Laurel Canyon scene: Dave Mason & Cass Elliot, a title that was previously released on their now-dormant Rev-Ola imprint in 2008. Both performers had made names for themselves previously, but when they met up for their one and only collaboration the results were a testament to their considerable musical skills.
Dave Mason was no stranger to the music industry when he and Cass Elliot, of The Mamas and The Papas, released their 1971 self-titled album on Blue Thumb. Mason had cut his teeth in a number of local Birmingham, England “Brumbeat” bands like The Jaguars, The Hellions and Deep Feeling. He eventually landed a gig as a roadie for The Spencer Davis Group, sang on “Gimme Some Lovin’,” and soon became a founding member of Traffic, along with Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, and Chris Wood. Early in their career, the band sequestered themselves into a Berkshire cottage to write and record. The result was the 1967 classic, Mr. Fantasy. But Mason’s relationship with Traffic was on-again, off-again, and by the time Mr. Fantasy was released worldwide, many territories amended the album’s artwork to reflect the newly Mason-less lineup. In the interim, Mason produced Family and cut a few solo sides. Eventually, he returned to Traffic for their 1968 self-titled album which featured the original version of the Mason-penned rock standard, “Feelin’ Alright.”
But soon, he found himself wanting to leave the group again and he settled into California. As a member of the Laurel Canyon scene, he was surrounded by talent. There was Delaney and Bonnie, with whom Mason would later tour alongside George Harrison and Eric Clapton; Stephen Stills, who taught Mason the guitar tuning that he eventually used on the hit song “Only You Know and I Know;” and Graham Nash, with whom Mason would record many times over the years. But it was the matriarch of Laurel Canyon, Cass Elliot, who would go on to collaborate with Dave Mason on one beautiful album. Elliot had a knack for bringing people together. It’s said that Crosby, Stills, and Nash sang for the first time ever at one of her parties (although others say the meeting was at Joni Mitchell’s place). No matter the location, Cass had a reputation for nurturing new talent.
So when the time came for Mason to deliver another LP for Blue Thumb – one to follow his successful Alone Together – Elliot was eager to assist. At first she was slated to be the producer for the project, eventually she added backing vocals to some tracks (along with her sister Leah Kunkel), and in the end, the album became a fully fledged collaboration.
From “Sit and Wonder” and “Walk To the Point,” to the epic “Glittering Facade,” Mason’s talents for songwriting are evident throughout. Meanwhile, Elliot’s lead vocals on “Here We Go Again” showcase her inimitable style and power. The backup band of Paul Harris (later of Manassas) providing keyboard and string arrangements, Bryan Garo on bass, and “The Section” sideman Russ Kunkel, also feature.
Cherry Red’s re-pressing of the old Rev-Ola title features remastered audio by Norman Blake, in-depth liner notes, and design by Pepperbox. Check out the track listing and pre-order links below.
Dave Mason & Cass Elliot, Dave Mason & Cass Elliot (Blue Thumb BTS-8825, 1971 — reissued Rev-Ola/Cherry Red CRREV 255, 2008 and Cherry Red CDMRED 737, 2019) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)
- Walk to the Point
- On and On
- To Be Free
- Here We Go Again
- Pleasing You
- Sit and Wonder
- Something To Make You Happy
- Too Much Truth,Too Much Love
- Next To You
- Glittering Façade