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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Underappreciated Then And Now: Dave Mason Still Kicks Butt

One of my favourite bands of the late 60s was Traffic. Their sound was a wonderful blend of psychelic pop/rock with a nod to the blues and jazz. They were blessed/cursed with two musical geniuses, Steve Winwood and Dave Mason.

Two geniuses in one band generally leads to the math of division. And so it went with Traffic. But not before they graced us with a handful of interesting, intelligent albums. Winwood went on to great fame, forming one of the first "Super Groups," Blind Faith, with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech.

Mason's career was lower-key. His (arguably) signature tune, Feelin' Alright, was covered by a lot of musicians, most notably Joe Cocker. A few years later, he had a hit with what I think is his masterpiece, We Just Disagree.

The latter is the song I'm going to feature first. It's a brilliant tune, telling the tale of a break-up without a villain -- the way perhaps, of most break-ups.

Thanks to HudyRockinRoll, wttv and Riahsha for posting the videos.

First - Dave then:

And Dave now - (give or take a year):

He hasn't lost a thing. And he's maybe gained something.

Hang on, we're not done.

Mason is one of the best guitarists ever - then and now. I mean an all-time top 10-er. Don't believe me? Check it out. The video isn't the best but all you really need is your ears. Use them for all four minutes. The old man's still got it. (Charlie - this one's for you.)

Tell me I was wrong.

Frickin' right you can't. ;)

Never stop Dave.


  1. That song used to make me feel depressed when I heard it, it seemed sad to me. Now listening to it I do appreciate it more. If you want to know my fave Dave song that will make you feel giddy, it's called, A Heartache A Shadow A Lifetime.
    He is a great musician.

  2. MG, pretty sure you're too young to say "groovy." ;)

    It is a wistful song Lisa, with an undercurrent of sadness. I'll check out that tune. Thanks.

  3. No fair chokin me up like that. Early 1970. After 26 years in Memphis, suddenly I'm in Oklahoma City, where I know no one. My blind date for the Savoy Brown and Grand Funk concert secretly slips me my first LSD and 6 weeks later we're married. "Our song" was that whole marble-ized album. Also always loved Dave's vocals. Ah, the memories. The Bob and Tom version was terrific.

  4. Cay, I don't know whether to apologize or say "you're welcome." I have a hunch there's quite a few of us out there that can get a little misty listening to that tune. Nothing moves like music.

  5. You're so right about how under-appreciated Dave Mason was and is as a guitarist. He's one of those players who has that oh-so-elusive 'taste'. In the last tune of the three you posted, every note in his soloing, every dive bomb was musical, unlike so many modern players (and just as many older) who seem to think it's all about flash. Mason is my kinda guy.

    And just because I can't resist adding a link of my own, here's my personal guod David Gilmour with a live rendition of Comfortably Numb. The outro solo in this song is a masterpiece, perhaps the greatest guitar solo of all time when originally recorded for Pink Floyd's "The Wall", taken to monumental proportions as Gilmour evolved it over the years in live performance. This is what I want to be listening to as I pass from this life to the next:


  6. Charlie, I agree, that's a transporting solo from one of my favourite tunes. Gilmour never wastes a note, nor adds extraneous ones. He's a master of the instrument.

  7. Never too young to say groooooovy! Hey, here's a dude I am sure you will like, if you don't already: http://www.youtube.com/joebonamassaofficial

  8. Wow MG, that was great! Bonamassa is new to me. It was pleasure enough to hear two blues masters taking turns on lead breaks but when they started trading licks -- that was icing. Thanks. :)

  9. Dave Mason is an awesome guitarist and singer/songwriter. I spotted him back in the Traffic Days and really loved his "Hole in my shoe". His first songs had that very British nursing rhyme style for adults, a bit like young Syd Barrett. Dave has both feet on the ground and has managed to create a fine career and worklife in music in the US. We miss Dave in these parts of the world (Scandinavia), though. I am truly impressed that Dave is still on the road. Well done!! :)


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