- It’s Like You Never Left finally returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish on this original Columbia stereo pressing
- Mason’s comeback got help from Graham Nash, Stevie Wonder and George Harrison
- There’s good extension up top and down low, with plenty of meaty bass and silky highs
- “Mason is perhaps one of the most creative forces, lyrically, musically and vocally, in pop today.” — Billboard, 1973
- Thank Al Schmitt for delivering top quality sound on this 1973 recording
- If you’re a Dave Mason fan, this has to be considered a Must Own Title of his from 1973.
- The complete list of titles from 1973 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
I was a big fan of this album when it came out in 1973. I used to play it all the time in fact. Now I hear why – it’s big and rich with a solid bottom end and a smooth, sweet top, perfect for the big but not especially sophisticated speakers (the Fulton J System) I had back in the day.
This album has the kind of sound that the typical CD just doesn’t want anything to do with. Not that the Compact Disc couldn’t pull it off — there are good sounding CDs in this world, I own hundreds of them — but it doesn’t seem to want to even try.
Graham Nash helps out on vocals on tracks one, two and five on the first side. Stevie Wonder plays a lovely harmonica solo on The Lonely One on side two, and George Harrison guests on guitar on If You’ve Got Love, the third track on side one.
This original Columbia stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely 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 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 It’s Like You Never Left 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 1973
- 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 studio space
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.
Tracks to Play
The first track on side one has huge bass and is very rich. Check out the sweet vocals on the second song and the Tubey Magical richness of track three.
On side two note how big the piano sounds, and how much space surrounds it. Then in comes the solid snare; followed by rich, meaty horns; breathy, silky vocals and big guitars.
This album is very well recorded and you don’t need a pair of golden ears or a state-of-the-art system to hear it — assuming you have a great copy like this one!
What We’re Listening For on It’s Like You Never Left
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt — Al Schmitt in this case — would have put them.
- 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, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also 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 instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.
If You’ve Got Love
Misty Morning Stranger
The Lonely One
It’s Like You Never Left
After a protracted legal battle with Blue Thumb Records, Dave Mason finally signed to Columbia and released the hopefully titled It’s Like You Never Left, his first new studio solo album in more than three years. Mason received prominent vocal assistance from Graham Nash, who helped turn tracks like “Every Woman” into singers’ showcases. (Other guests included Stevie Wonder and George Harrison.)
Mason is perhaps one of the most creative forces, lyrically, musically and vocally, in pop today. He is at best with purely acoustic material such as the beautiful “Every Woman” and “Maybe,” but can also rock with the best as on “Silent Partner.” Singer, writer, arranger, producer — he does it all. – 1973
We know Schmitt‘s work well; he happens to have engineered many of our favorite albums, albums we know to have SUPERB SOUND: Aja, Hatari, Breezin’, Late for the Sky, Toto IV, Charade, etc. The guy’s won 13 Grammies, which ought to tell you something.