At the time of its release in July of 1970, Dave Mason's debut solo album, Alone Together (Blue Thumb Records, 1970), was the proverbial perfect storm, a flash-point of both creative art and commerce that remains a singular object of fascination in the annals of contemporary rock. Produced by label co-founder Tommy LiPuma, in conjunction with the erstwhile early member of Traffic (who assumed all such duties himself on the 2020 sequel), an estimable roster of guest musicians participated, including keyboardist Leon Russell and drummer Jim Keltner.
Other members of Delaney & Bonnie and Friends (with whom Mason had toured England the previous year in the company of George Harrison and Eric Clapton) also appear in varying ensembles that invariably render the arrangements for songs like "Sad And Deep As You" with the same delicious simplicity as the Mason-composed the material. As it appears on , that latter piece of melancholy would easily lend itself to a solo rendition, so it is only natural that here, as on the earlier take, a prominent acoustic guitar is the focal point of a more dense mix of instruments. The tune remains eminently accessible nonetheless, as does the infectious opener of this thirty-six or so minutes, "Only You Know And I Know."
Like the other seven tracks, this one benefits from spacious sonics, kudos for which go to recording engineers Chris Curtis and Matt Linesch. Following in the esteemed footsteps of original engineers Bruce Botnick and Al Schmitt, the technical duo foster a judicious layering of voices and instruments, so that, for instance, Gretchen Rhodes' gospel-tinged background singing functions like Mason's voice of conscience. With no lack of feeling in the lead singing on "Can't Stop Worrying Can't Stop Loving" (and throughout), Dave Mason would seemed to have addressed the ostensible raison d'etre for this re-recording, his self-admitted dissatisfaction with the vocals during the prior recording.
But this unusual follow-up also allows for other embellishments. Electric piano reinforces the jaunty feel within "Waitin' On You," while the hint of banjo adds to rather than detracts from the haunting nature of "Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave" (and the sound of a grand piano also fortifies the fundamental solemnity of that song). For its part, "World In Changes" carries as much political and social relevance as it did fifty years prior, perhaps more so considering the multiple paradigm shifts now in play around the globe.
In a gesture of perhaps unavoidable continuity and logic, "Look At You Look At Me" appears as the well-designated closer in the same position as it did a half-century ago. Yet the performance goes on almost an extra two minutes, allowing for the maturity in Dave Mason's delivery of the lyrics to match that of his guitar soloing: a straightforward player in style, there's more depth of passion to his fretboard work now, thereby justifying the length to which he takes this cut in the presence of his stylish and sympathetic accompanists. Unfortunately, this reggae take on "World In Changes," near the home stretch of the album, sounds as contrived in its dub effects as the frontman himself does in both the main and harmony vocals.
At the time of its issue a half-century ago, Alone Together was produced in a marbled pattern wherein a swirled mix of pink, brown and beige, replaced than the usual black vinyl. The same basic color scheme remains here in this reissued format, as does a a tri-fold digipak design. Taken together, these cosmetic touches reaffirm how ...Again proceeds honestly and directly from that impeccable previous flash of inspiration and, as such, stands as testament to the depth of the original's impact.
Only You Know And I Know; Can’t Stop Worrying, Can’t Stop Loving; Waitin’ On You
Shouldn’t Have Took More Than You Gave; World In Changes; Sad And Deep As You; Just A Song; Look At You Look At Me.
Dave Mason: vocals, Johnne Sambataro: background vocals; John McFee: pedal steel; Jason Roller: acoustic guitar; Jonathan McEuen: acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo; Tony Patler: bass; Bill Reynolds: bass;.
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