Nick Mason – Nick Mason´s Fictitious Sports (1981)

Nick Mason’s Fictitious Sports is the debut album by Pink Floyd‘s drummer Nick Mason. Released in May 1981 in the UK and US, this was Mason’s first major work outside of Pink Floyd. However, the album is considered by many a Carla Bley album in all but name, since she wrote all the songs and co-produced it.

It’s possibly her most overtly pop-oriented album, with all eight songs featuring vocals by Soft Machine alumnus Robert Wyatt. The music, by Bley‘s standards, is fairly pedestrian if occasionally catchy, though the lyrics are often wryly amusing. So we have songs about failed car motors and a skeptic’s encounter with a flying saucer, and one dedicated to unappreciative audiences titled “Boo to You Too.” Though the band is staffed with several fine jazz musicians, the music has more of a rock or jazz-rock feel, largely due to the spotlight on guitarist Chris Spedding, who evidences slick, if relatively uninteresting, chops. To the extent the songs succeed, Wyatt can take much of the credit. His engagingly hoarse voice is capable of both wrenching sincerity and mordant humor; pieces like “Do Ya?,” where he is asked to tortuously squawk the line “God knows I try!,” would collapse entirely with a less convincing vocalist. The closing cut, “I’m a Mineralist,” is the one that leaves a lasting impression. Conflating geology and minimalism, it includes lines like “Erik Satie gets my rocks off/Cage is a dream/Philip Glass is mineralist to the extreme,” before launching into a note-perfect rendition of some pointedly bland Glassian measures. For Pink Floyd completists, this album might provide a glimpse into an alternate universe of which they were otherwise unaware, but fans of Bley‘s earlier masterpieces like Escalator Over the Hill are likely to emerge somewhat disappointed.

Tracklist

1. “Can’t Get My Motor to Start” – 3:39
2 .”I Was Wrong” – 4:12
3 .”Siam” – 4:48
4 .”Hot River” – 5:16
5. “Boo To You Too” – 3:26
6. “Do Ya?” – 4:36
7. “Wervin'” – 3:58
8. “I’m a Mineralist” – 6:16

All songs written by Carla Bley.

Personnel

Notes
Released: 3 May 1981
Recorded: in October 1979, at Grog Kill Studios, Willow, New York by Michael Mantler, assisted by Nick Mason; mixed in December 1979 & May 1980 at Village Recorders & the Producer’s Workshop, L.A. by James Guthrie
Genre: Jazz-rock, progressive rock
Length: 36:15

Label – Harvest/Columbia Records

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