Nick Mason: Unattended Luggage
RHINO Not every drummer can follow the Phil Collins path: moving from behind the kit to behind the mic, carving out a solo career as a singer-songwriter. Nick Mason clearly never aspired to. His erratic work outside of Pink Floyd began as a lark and maintained a similarly low-stakes approach. Unattended Luggage collects the first three albums bearing the percussionist’s name, even if the marquee treatment is a bit misleading. His 1981 debut, Nick Mason’s Fictitious Sports , is essentially a solo album from jazz keyboardist/composer Carla Bley, who wrote all the material and instigated the project. Regardless, it’s the pinnacle of the Mason catalog, conjuring a funkier “Pink Floyd as produced by Frank Zappa, laced with a touch of Canterbury Scene” wackiness. Fittingly, The Soft Machine co-founder Robert Wyatt lends his quirky presence throughout—including the psychedelic, sax-heavy blues of “Siam” to the avant funk-rock of “I Was Wrong,” a rumination on UFO revelations. Sadly, Mason’s work was never as unique when he started cowriting the songs: Profiles , an equally billed collaboration with 10cc guitarist Rick Fenn, gets bogged down in cheesy ‘80s synth tones and electronic drum doodles, though a vintage vocal appearance from Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour perks up the synth-pop single “Lie for Lie.” Mason and Fenn reunited on the White of the Eye soundtrack, exploring everything from Vangelislike synth ambience (“Present”) to Stratocaster soloing (“Remember Mike”) to horrifically digified countryrock (“Globe”). No, they’re not all winners. (Hey, there’s always Dark Side of the Moon .) But Unattended Luggage is still worth claiming—if only for pure fascination’s sake.