Originally from Virginia, Mason was another example of an American hard rock band that took its influences from the British underground and 1960s’ psychedelic scene. This heavy rock album was initially released in 1971 through a tiny homemade pressing but through the years it has gained collectiblity and originals have fetched high prices as the band’s reputation has spread among collectors. The album has been bootlegged a number of times over the past years with various covers in both CD and LP format. Mason’s music combines the keyboard work of such bands as Deep Purple and the acoustics & complexity of Jethro Tull together with strong vocals, songwriting, and excellent instrumentation.
One of the group's better albums, despite coming so late in their history that it was ignored by almost everyone. "Hope," "Fire Brothers," and "Don't Cry for My Lady Love" are among the best songs the group ever cut, and "I Found Love" is one of the prettiest, most upbeat songs ever to come from any classic San Francisco band. Some of the rest is self-indulgent, but that's what this era of music was about - the guitar pyrotechnics of "Song for Frisco" and "Play My Guitar" make them both more entertaining than their somewhat bland melodies; the latter song, in particular, sounds like a Marty Balin/Jefferson Airplane outtake that would have been right on target about four years before the release date of this album…
Released in 1971, The Land of Many Churches is similar to other Merle Haggard tribute albums released in the same era, including Same Train, Different Time and I Love Dixie Blues. To his credit, Haggard had a greater need to shine light on the music that influenced him, more so than the need to release material that guaranteed a surefire hit. These 24 tracks include gospel chestnuts "Precious Memories," "Turn Your Radio On," "Amazing Grace," and a great version of the Hank Williams composition "I Saw the Light." Recorded live at the Nashville Union Rescue Mission and several rural churches across the country, Haggard is joined by guests Bonnie Owens and the Carter Family. Highly recommended to traditional country fans.
One of the most successful, most recorded and most influential jazz players of his time, Cal Tjader is these days a largely overlooked figure in the music’s history. Part of the cause of his lack of recognition is present in the reasons he was so successful. Tjader made no great leaps forward harmonically or rhythmically, but instead showed how jazz and Afro-Cuban music could blend together with the vibraphone as the lead instrument, its percussiveness working very well in that musical context. In doing so, he was followed by many others, his commercial success affording him the opportunity to record a great number of albums.