- This outstanding copy of Mason’s Masterpiece boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sonic grades on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Listen to how big and rich the dynamic chorus gets on the first track, Only You Know and I Know – what a thrill to hear it like that
- A killer Bruce Botnick recording – Tubey Magical Analog, smooth and natural, with the whole production sitting on a rock solid bottom-end foundation
- 4 1/2 stars: “Alone Together represents Dave Mason at his peak… everything comes together perfectly.”
Before I get too far into the story of the sound, I want to say that this album appears to be criminally underrated as music nowadays, having fallen from favor with the passage of time.
It is a surely a masterpiece that belongs in any Rock Collection worthy of the name. Every track is good, and most are amazingly good. There’s no filler here.
This vintage pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with Dave and the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What the best sides of Alone Together have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1970
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
This Copy Rocks
Punchy and surprisingly DEEP bass is one of the first things you will notice when playing one of these Hot Stamper copies. Huge amounts of ambience fill out the space the extends from wall to wall (and all the way to the back of the studio), leaving plenty of room around each of the players.
Full-bodied sound, open and spacious, bursting with life and energy; presence in both the lead and backup vocals (so critical to the presentation of this kind of folk rock); not to mention harmonically rich acoustic guitars that ring for days — these are the hallmarks of our hottest Hot Stampers.
Listen to how big and rich the dynamic chorus gets on the first track, World in Changes. What a thrill. Any shortcomings in the sound will be instantly obvious on this chorus. It managed to stay as clear and uncongested as any we had ever heard.
What We’re Listening For on Alone Together
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the guitars and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
- Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt — Bruce Botnick in this case — would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
1970 was a great time in music (Tea for the Tillerman, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Moondance, Sweet Baby James, Tumbleweed Connection, After the Goldrush, The Yes Album, McCartney, Elton John, His Band And Street Choir, Deja Vu, Workingman’s Dead, Tarkio, Stillness, Let It Be — need I go on?).
Even in such illustrious company — I defy anyone to name ten albums of comparable quality to come out in any year — Alone Together ranks as one of the best releases of 1970.
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
AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review
Alone Together contains an excellent batch of melodically pleasing songs, built on a fat bed of strumming acoustic guitars with tasteful electric guitar accents and leads. Mason’s vocals are embellished with harmonies from Rita Coolidge, Claudia Lennear, and Delaney & Bonnie.
Besides the well-known semi-hit “Only You Know and I Know,” and which was also a number 20 hit for Delaney & Bonnie, highlights include the bouncy gospel-inflected “Waitin’ on You” and the banjo-bejeweled “Just a Song.” “Look at You Look at Me” and the wonderfully wah-wahed “Shouldn’t Have Took More Than You Gave” are reminiscent of Mason’s former band, Traffic, whose drummer, Jim Capaldi, is among the all-star cast assembled here.
Alone Together represents Dave Mason at his peak… everything comes together perfectly.
Mason with help from friends Jim Capaldi and Leon Russell proves his mastery of the rock idiom once and for all. The lyric content and music content of every song catches the senses of the listener and creates excitement. There is no doubt about the power of this album, and it should prove a top chart item.
Finding The Right Sound on Alone Together
We struggled for years with the bad vinyl and the murky sound of this album. Finally, with dozens of advances in playback quality and dramatically better cleaning techniques, we have now managed to overcome the problems which we assumed were baked into the recording. I haven’t heard the master tape, but I have heard scores of pressings made from it over the years. I confess I actually used to like and recommend the Heavy Vinyl MCA pressing. Rest assured that is no longer the case. Nowadays it sounds as opaque, ambience-challenged, lifeless and pointless as the rest of its 180 gram brethren.
This copy managed to find a near-perfect balance of the above four attributes. You want to keep what is good about a Tubey Magical analog recording from The Golden Age of Rock while avoiding the pitfalls so common to them: poor resolution, heavy compression, thickness, opacity, blubber, inadequate frequency extremes, lack of space and lack of presence.
How’s that for a laundry list of all the problems we hear on old rock records (and classical records and jazz records; all records really)? What record doesn’t have at least some of these faults? Not many in our experience.