Hidden Gems: Obscure 45’s No. 3 – Dave Mason

Standard

Dave Mason was one of the original Traffic members, though I’m not sure if he was a founder, or just a recruit. He wrote the most psychedelic tracks on the band’s debut LP, Mr. Fantasy, plus the far-out single, “Hole In My Shoe“. He seemed to be the main experimentalist, while the others, particularly Steve Winwood and Chris Wood, preferred a more blues/R&B-based approach. These tensions reached a head during the making of the follow-up LP a year later, in 1968.

Dave stayed with the group through a short U.S. tour and then either left, or was asked to go. He would re-join Traffic in 1971 for a few shows (including the Oz Benefit), but never again in the studio. His first solo single was released in 1968, while he was producing Family‘s first full-length album, the classic Music In A Doll’s House.

The single’s A-side was “Just For You“, a pretty psych tune with a catchy melody, filled out by flute, tabla, Beatles-ish strings and Dave’s sunshine-y acoustic guitar strumming. This tune will become an earworm, but a delightful one. I love the way Mason stretches out the word “you” in the chorus (“you..oo-ooo…oo-ooo”) – it almost sounds Middle Eastern or Indian.

Mason is backed by Family for the B-side, called “Little Woman“. It’s a more straight-forward affair, but Rick Grech‘s sawing violin trills definitely show an Incredible String Band influence.

Surprisingly, or maybe not – given psychedelia’s waning popularity in 1968, the single flopped. “Just For You” was confusingly featured on the Traffic odds-n-sods collection, Last Exit, released in 1969 – leading many, including myself, to think it was a group composition.

In any case – it’s a great single – both ‘A’ and ‘B’-sides are quite excellent. Dave went on to have a decent solo stint, though not quite as auspicious as his erstwhile band-mate Winwood’s. Traffic carried on to 1974, then finally split for good (though drummer Jim Capaldi and Winwood would exhume the band name for the disappointing Far From Home album in 1994).

Advertisements

2 responses »

  1. I do not recall ever hearing either of these songs before. I think they are great! The fiddle playing on ‘Little Woman’ is very evocative. Both songs capture the era well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s