Come August, the flow of new records dries up in anticipation of the "back-to-school" blitz, with only a handful of releases to carry us to Labor Day - although a new disc from The Who is expected this week.
So now is a good time to backtrack, catching some albums that may have been overlooked in this summer's wave of truly significant releases by such giants as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and Patti Smith. DAVE MASON: MARIPOSA DE ORO
Colombia, JC 35285
Mason, a popular solo act ever since leaving Traffic, has produced some of the more accessible classics in rock ("Only You Know and I Know," "Feelin' Alright"). His new album has no classics, but is perfectly shaped and cleaner than most records you're likely to hear. Mason's voice has never been more expressive and his reading of Carole King and Gerry Goffin's "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" proves he is nearly as good with other people's compositions as with his own. "Searchin' (For a Feeling)" and "Warm Desire" show off his range and uncanny ability to mesh his voice with the arrangements. Mason doesn't take any chances on "Mariposa de Oro," but the album is pleasing right down the line. FOREIGNER: DOUBLE VISION
Atlantic SD 199999.
Along with "Some Girls," this is the best rock'n roll album of the year. There's nothing here you haven't heard somewhere, sometime, but Foreigner does it better. Vocalist Lou Gramm has his swagger down pat and the rhythm section of Ed Gagliardi, Dennis Elliott and former King Crimson member Ian McDonald has developed markedly since the band's debut. Foreigner sounds almost exactly like Bad Company on several tracks, but the resemblance is more beneficial than harmful. All the cuts are strong, and "Hot Blooded" may yet burn a hole in your radio before school starts. JOHN KLEMMER: ARABESQUE
ABC, AA 1068.
You've got the table set. The wine is chosen. Dinner is simmering. It's the big summer date, a romantic evening you've anticipated for months. But what music? John Klemmer. Klemmer used to be a dynamic experimenter who didn't sell many records. Lately, he's been straddling the line between jazz and pop and selling a lot of records. Basically, he's saxophone's answer to Earl Klugh. Klemmer's melodies ebb and flow with a tinge of bossa nova, a bit of rock, and a lot of easily appreciated clusters. He gets plenty of support form keyboardist Pat Rebillot, former Return Forever drummer Lenny White, and guests including Roger Kellaway and Airto Moreira. "Arabesque" borders on background music, but it's great background and its sounds good soft. O'JAYS: SO FULL OF LOVE
Philadelphia International, JZ 35355.
Nobody does soul quite like the O'Jays (who will be in concert at the Capitol Centre Sunday), and this is one of their best albums. Besides the funk and formula hits (including former Top Tenner "Use Ta Be My Girl"), the O'Jays perform ballads and pop tunes with equal style and dexterity. The fact is that many people who don't like rhythm and blues tend to dismiss the O'Jays and deny themselves a chance to enjoy a truly talented unit. No one should to dismiss a band that has done as well as the O'Jays for as long and "So Full of Love" also highlights the songwriting team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. Gamble and Huff are to the "Philadelphia sound" what Price and Pride are to the A&P. The combination gets sappy in spots (Gamble and Huff, not Price and Pride), but "So Full of Love" is easy to lay back with on a summer's night. ANDY GIBB: SHADOW DANCING
No one under 18 needs to be told about Andy Gibb, but those over 18 may be surprised at how well his album plays if you're just looking for a good time. Gibb's music is eminently forgettable, but while it lasts it's catchy and superbly produced by Albby Galuten and Karl Richardson. The title cut is contagiously sexy and other tunes (like "An Everlasting Love") prove that Gibb doesn't need straight disco to get by. Still if Gibb is smart, he'll clone bassist Harold Cowart and use him forever.
Since rooting for any Bee Gee these days is like rooting for General Motors, it's not going to be easy for the youngest Gibb to shake his cutesy, teeny-bopper image. But if you want some light entertainment, "Shadow Dancing" should be high on your list.