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Nick Mason - Nick Mason's Fictitious Sports CD (album) cover


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4 stars Essentially, this was "Nick Mason Piggybacks Most of Carla Bley's Band Onto A Major-Label Recording." It's a riot, absolutely memorable, with great Robert Wyatt vocals, twisted songs, and the most perfect parody of Philip Glass you'll ever hear. Mason acquits himself well, the band is tight and hot, Michael Mantler's trumpet playing is sublime. "Can't Get My Motor To Start" is one of the most sadistic and funniest car songs I've ever heard, right up there with The Waitresses "It's My Car." I'm not sure if it's possible to find this any more, but snatch it up if you do.
Report this review (#60806)
Posted Monday, December 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is very much a Carla Bley motivated album however it does not detract from the overall positive energy of the album. It is an album brimming with good humour, very tongue in cheek at times but also not compromised musically. The sound material is strong and Robert Wyatt's vocals possibly the strongest I have heard him sing. As a collection of songs I would overall rate this as a good album. There are however some songs which stand out above the rest, namely " Hot River", the fun ' Can't Get My Motor To Start" with lyrics like ' Bring that beer over here, cos I need it to steer'!! You can't take that too seriously now can you? and for me the highlight with Robert Wyatt delivering the goods on " I'm a Mineralist". Recommended for die hard Pink Floyd fans who need all the solo albums to complete the Floyd library repertoire.
Report this review (#60819)
Posted Monday, December 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is a rather bizarre album! There are omnipresent brass arrangements that sound slightly jazzy, funky, fanfare music and even RIO/avant garde, like on "I'm a mineralist". Nick Mason's drums patterns can be quite elaborated & fast here, especially on "Boo to you too" and "Can't get my motor to start", if you compare them to his work with Pink Floyd post-Barrett. Some keyboards are REALLY low profile, mostly producing odd and strange sound effects. There are omnipresent good piano parts. There are some twisted & dissonant sax sounds like on "I was wrong". The rhytmic electric guitar sound is a bit too monolithic. The songs have too many repetitive patterns that do not really retain the attention, so that the overall music is more progressive related than progressive itself. Robert Wyatt is the lead singer, and we really feel his influence here. Mason's drums are quite good, but there are some unconvincing pieces, like "Siam" and "Hot river". I prefer the dynamic and fast songs like "Boo to you too". The sound is good and the instruments are well played. Mostly the album is neither catchy nor accessible at all. Plus, the songs are pretty unemotional. This original and unique album is certainly not bad if you accept its clinical dimension.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Report this review (#95868)
Posted Thursday, October 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
3 stars One would have to say that by 1981, it was high time for Nick Mason, Pink Floyd's drummer, to unleash a solo work, as all other Floyd members had already done so years before. What we have here is not a Mason 'solo' work per se, (we don't get any experimental treats like 'The Grand Vizier's Garden Party) ; all of the compositions were written by Jazz keyboardist Carla Bley, and involved many jazz oriented musicians such as Gary Window, Steve Swallow, Mike Mantler, Chris Spedding and the wonderful Robert Wyatt, among others. The musical style couldn't be further away from Floyd as this : a nod towards Zappa, a touch of Canterbury, and kind of alternative rock with slight RIO tendencies (actually, these observations could be applicable to certain Floyd in some ways...). Humour permeates many songs on the album, and with Wyatt handling the mic, there is no-one better to convey the often quirky lyrics with as much intelligence and wit. Technically speaking, Mason's drumming is almost perfunctory (he's not the world's greatest drummer, but he often has a headful of ideas and a 'magic touch') whilst the rest of the band play their parts perfectly around him, the brass instruments in particular. No one song is better or worse than the other, making it a fairly consistent listen throughout, but hats off to 'I Was Wrong' and 'I'm a Mineralist' (minimalist, I guess). 3.5 stars.
Report this review (#103355)
Posted Saturday, December 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars A highly enjoyable (but not exactly great) album. I only wish it were still in print (which, at the time of writing, it isn't). Not quite jazzy enough for Carla Bley, and not weird enough for Robert Wyatt, it's still very much dominated by those artists, and as previous reviewers have pointed out, the fast songs are the best. 'I was wrong' and 'Siam' are ballads which hover somewhere between teasing, fascinating and annoying. 'Do ya' is a splendid torch song, and 'I'm a mineralist' a tongue-in-cheek parody of the minimalist movement in music. Best of all are uptempo numbers such as the Zappa-esque 'Can't get my motor to start' and 'Boo to you too'. Strangely enough, Mason's role on the album is negligible. You can't call his drumming outstanding, and you certainly can't guarantee that Pink Floyd fans will enjoy this sort of music. Apparently, Mason only wanted to use his name to put Wyatt and Bley in the spotlight - a noble gesture, for which he deserves praise. Let's hope FICTITIOUS SPORTS will be back in print as soon as possible.
Report this review (#156546)
Posted Tuesday, December 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars This record sits in my archives and gets a dusting off every couple of years. There are a number of very good musical moments on it, but simply not enough to overcome the bizarre Carla Bley avant garde jazz material. Don't get me wrong, I think Carla Bley is a major force in the history of modern jazz, but even to me, with a confirmed taste in jazz, a bit of the ideas are a bit over the top aesthestically, and, that is saying a lot. For those looking for a Pink Floyd solo effort, this is not your record. The only thing that sounds vaguely like Pink Floyd is session guitarist extraordinaire Chris Spedding's guitar work on Hot River. Mason's drumming, as always, is handicapped by a profound lack of talent, his talents largely existing conceptually and behind the scenes. Wyatt's vocals have always been a polarizing kind of thing- you tend to either love them or hate them. His hoarse, thin delivery is up some people's alley. The musicianship on the record, despite its many conceptual and executional shortcomings, is excellent. Can't Get My Motor to Start is a riot. Siam is a bore. All in all, this recording, now out of print, should probably remain that way. With many notable exceptions, material with more lasting power tends to provide more substantive musical, aesthetic or historical statements, and when it comes to those, this one simply just doesn't past muster. It remains a curiosity worthy of 2.5/ 5 stars.
Report this review (#156632)
Posted Wednesday, December 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars When I first heard this record I didn't know Carla Bley or Robert Wyatt. To me it was just a record with Nick Mason on it. I was in the phase of gathering everything I could related to Pink Floyd. At that time, to me, it was just weird. I could relate, however to the floydesque Hot River. With nice bass solo by Steve Swallow that I learnt to love. The humour and irony, as I am portuguese, didn't catch my ear or made my day, but there were some strange arrangements on Can't Get My Motor to Start and I'm a Mineralist, that made me listen to the record more than once. Nowadays I find this a poor effort by Nick Mason. Even if I can appreciate Carla Bley's composition and audacity, and her will to do a record which is as far from her music as a fish is from a tree. Robert Wyatt sings with vitality and is really a pleasure to hear him. But the overall sensation is that this record was a comission. There's not a hint of a new voice, or a new approach to music by the drummer. His technical skills are scarce and limited and he doesn't evem try a bit harder. He's not even trying to try as Robert says on Do Ya? To me it is a bit strange that, when confronted with the tribute bands of Floyd music Mason seems the most irritated, saying that everyone should stick his or her compositions. What would Nick play if everyone agreed? Not even a song of his, so to speak, album. So, to me, even if i love Carla Bley's music, and I hear it on Do Ya?, to me this is a almost totally failed record. Carla Bley would gladly forget it and I think Robert Wyatt too. It doesn't add a bit to the music history or makes a point about anything. And, atfer all, it is what is meant: they are just Nick Mason's Fictious Sports. There you are. It is just plain and harmless fun.
Report this review (#160919)
Posted Tuesday, February 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I find Ficticious Sports, as essentially a Carla Bley project, thoroughly entertaining. After much searching, I finally got hold of this record (yes, searching for it was borne out of my Pink Floyd completist obsession). I'm certainly glad I got this record! It's an all-star cast, but it doesn't have the often uncohesive results that can occur when top-shelf musicians are thrust together on the merit of name alone. I think of some of those horrid CTI jazz albums of the 70s...every player was a giant in his or her field, but together they couldn't find musical magic if it bit them in the face. That is certainly not the case here. We get lovely arrangements and quirky lyrics courtesy of the always- interesting Carla Bley, the great bass playing of the inseparable Steve Swallow, the timeless voice of Robert Wyatt, some amazing guitar comping from Chris Spedding, and Nick Mason's solid, tasteful drumming. Sure, one can criticise Nick Mason for his lack of virtuoso chops, but then, when have you ever heard him play too many notes? I'd often rather hear real musicality and taste than chops-a-plenty.

All in all, this record has all the quirkiness that makes Canterbury bands fun and interesting to listen to, coupled with a (slightly skewed) pop sensibility that's never pretensious, great production, and FUN! Get it if you can find it!

Report this review (#174030)
Posted Monday, June 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of my all-time favorites, this one.

Despite Mr. Mason's pedigree, absolutely no Pink Floyd vibes are to be heard here (save for one Gilmour-esque solo from Chris Spedding). But what you do get is a Carla Bley rock album (on Carla's terms, of course) with lead singer Robert Wyatt on practically every tune.

Lotsa melodic mischief abounds with Bley's band, the aformentioned Spedding, NRBQ's Terry Adams, some familiar upstate NY session horn men, and, oh yeah, Nick Mason all waving the flag. Lyrically, there's almost a benign Zappa tinge at work here - don't miss the hysterical Philip Glass satire that closes the album. And Wyatt, fronting such a large and loud band, is more full throated than on any project he's been involved with since, I'm guessing Soft Machine Vol. 2!

The Carla Bley fans I know find this a little too quaint for their tastes, but my fellow Robert Wyatt fans all feel this is indeed one of Wyatt's all time greatest - a real overlooked diamond in the rough.

Though his name is front and center, Nick Mason only produced and provides his trademark dependable timekeeping. But if it wasn't for Mason, I'm sure CBS wouldn't have given this album the time of day. So, thanks, Nick, for giving us one of the all time greats, even if few have gotten round to hear it.

Everyone here at PA, especially the Wyatt fans, really needs to check Fictitious Sports out at their earliest convenience. One helluva payoff!

5 stars, no problem!

Report this review (#196093)
Posted Monday, December 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
1 stars I'm not sure about it, but its the kind of thing that I never ever expected coming from Mason. Yet its someway jazzy due to the great influence Carla Bley printed on this, and to be honest it's not progressive at all. It has some funny moments but nothing really special comes from here. Robert Wyatt contribution ends up as not really helpful on the end result.

Let's face it, this doesn't have anything at all to do with Pink Floyd, it ends up being a work divided between Carla Bley and Rober Wyatt. And due to this the music changes from being tolerable to a certain point an annoying thing, not really surprising, maybe its a collection must for someone who wants a perfectly full Pink Floyd related collection, besides that I don't see the need for this.

Report this review (#262415)
Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars I have to admit that I was quite disappointed when I listened to this album for the first time. I wasn't expecting a masterpiece but at least something closer to Pink Floyd. Well, if you don't consider "Hot River" there's nothing that sounds floydian here.

Of course this is mainly a Carla Bley work to which Mason has put his name. More or less the same thing that Mike Oldfield did with Pekka Pohjola's Mathematical Air Display.

The result is a avantgarde/jazzy album not so bad as it could appear if you are looking for things like Shine on you crazy diamond.

Robert Wyatt's voice gives it a touch of Canterbury. All the musicians are very skilled and also Mason seems able to play better than he was used in Pink Floyd, even if he's everything but a cat. Drums are what sound less jazzy in the whole album.

The songs vary fromn the crazyness of "Can't get my motor to start" and "Boo to you too" to the late psychedelia of "Hot River" passing by the very proggy "Siam" and "Do Ya" which sounds more like Soft Machine.

It's not a fundamental album but it's neither a bad one. I think it would have had a better success if Robert Wyatt's name appeared on the cover instead of Nick Mason's as the music inside is closer to the first.

I suggest this album to Soft Machine fans. If you are looking for Pink Floyd this is not your pot, as there's only "Hot River" which features a Gilmour-like guitar and Wright-like organ in the background (and is a great song IMO).

It can have 3 stars.

Report this review (#291377)
Posted Thursday, July 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the best Pink Floyd solo albums, but it's not really fair to characterize it as such as it's really a Carla Bley album that Mason agreed to put his name on in the hope of shifting more copies. (We can see how well that worked! Maybe if they had thrown a flying pig on...)

Anyway, it's a superb record, and considering Wyatt was in sort of semi-retirement at the time this was recorded (he did very, very little between the '75 Henry Cow gigs and the Rough Trade singles that formed the basis of "Nothing Can Stop Us") it's a great pleasure to hear his voice on the majority of the album. "I'm A Mineralist", a simultaneous parody of sexual perversion and Philip Glass, is often cited as the highlight and indeed it is a very good song, but there's honestly not anything bad on tap anywhere. Recommended to Wyatt and Bley fans. For anyone buying this hoping to hear some of the excitement and thrills of "The Grand Vizier's Garden Party"... WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?

Report this review (#308013)
Posted Tuesday, November 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars I imagine this album was a shock to Pink Floyd fans hoping for more Floydlike music from their drummer. But this is actually not a Nick Mason solo album. It's a Carla Bley album (whose band Mason occasionally recorded with. Fear not, Carla Bley writes some great, and often very funny rock music. And Mason does play drums on all of the tracks.

Can't Get My Motor To Start opens the album with a quirky upbeat song about a broken down car. It's fun and very funny. I Was Wrong follows, with Robert Wyatt singing as a skeptic who has an alien encounter.

The dirgelike Siam is next. With it's slow beat, you may think it's going to be the most Floyd- like track on the album. But on Hot River, Bley sounds like she was imitating Roger Waters' "The Wall" era style, complete with Great Gig In The Sky vocals.

Boo To You Too is an upbeat boogie, with more funny lyrics about how to deal with hecklers during a concert. Do Ya? is more typical of Bley's big band compositions, but with Wyatt singing odd lyrics about being misunderstood.

Wervin' is not bad. It's a repetitious song, with a good sax solo, with bizarre lyrics. I'm A Mineralist is the masterpiece on the album. It's a sendup of the minimalist music that was so popular in that decade. Brilliant.

If you are not expecting Pink Floyd, and open your ears, this is an extremely enjoyable album.

Report this review (#550860)
Posted Saturday, October 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars In between "The Wall" and "The Final Cut", Pink Floyd's Nick Mason had plenty of time on his hands. He teams up with friends Mike Mantler and Carla Bley to record the Bley penned "Fictitious Sports". It's released under Mason's name to pull in a bigger fee from the record company. The Pink Floyd drummer calls in a favor and has ex-Soft Machine and soloist Robert Wyatt provide vocals. Mason had produced Wyatt's Rock Bottom album some seven years prior.

The album is eclectic. Anyone expecting a Pink Floyd knock-off album will be in for a big surprise. Bley brings in a kind of weird jazz rock with horns flavored music and combines them with a wicked sense of humor. For listeners without a prior introduction to Mr. Wyatt, his vocals are distinctive and for me, took a bit to get used to. A listener who found out about Fictitious Sports via Pink Floyd, will have one song that is closely related to their work. The track "Hot River" sports a dead on David Gilmour guitar solo from Chris Spedding with producer Nick Mason making his drums brighter and displaying them more prominiently in the mix then he had with his "day job" band.

In short, this is a good, enjoyable album. It will expand your musical palette if you are not familiar with the supporting cast. I later found out that It doesn't have the best of Carla Bley but it was my introduction to her work.

A solid 3 stars.

Report this review (#707598)
Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars I saw this album in the record shops when it was released in 1981. I never bought it. At that time, I was listening more to GENESIS, YES, and other bands than to PINK FLOYD. But finally I could listen to this album recently, not being disappointed by it, despite the fact that NICK MASON did not write any of the songs in this album. The songs were composed by CARLA BLEY, an artist from the U.S. whose style of music is more towards Jazz-Rock music (and maybe somewhat Avant- Garde) than Rock music or Progressive Rock, and very far from PINK FLOYD`s musical style in many ways. Maybe Mason was tired of PINK FLOYD and Roger Waters (at that time, in late 1979, they were reaching the final stages of the recording of "The Wall" album, and Mason went to New York to co-produce this album with Carla Bley, in October 1979). I have to say that the music in this album is somewhat complicated, with some influences from FRANK ZAPPA (even in the use of some humour in some songs like "Can`t Get My Motor to Start" and "Boo To You Too"). All the musicians played very well and the recording and mixing of this album is very good, and maybe it took to them some time to learn the songs in the right way to record them, so maybe they took a considerable time for rehearsals, but maybe I am wrong. Anyway, this is a good album, an album which maybe needs some repeating listenings to really like it. The lead vocals by ROBERT WYATT are very good and very well adapted to this kind of music, not sounding very far from his own style of music. The song which sounds more close to Rock music is "Hot River" which has some very good guitars played by Chris Spedding. But the main instruments in all the other songs are the wind instruments and the keyboards. Mason plays the drums very well, I can say that I can listen to this album a lot of times more than to "The Wall".
Report this review (#1236704)
Posted Wednesday, August 6, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Odd-Ball with some charm.

This album is somewhat of a concoction. Wanting to make a solo album like his fellow Floydians, but being neither a composer nor a singer, Mason asked Carla Bley to write the tunes, and his friend Robert Wyatt to sing on the album. He also asked other friends (like Gary Windo on saxes, and Karen Craft on vocals) to be part of the project. The result is a one-off odd-ball mixture of styles and textures that bears little resemblance to anything that came beforehand or afterward. It really feels concocted too. Wyatt in many places sounds unsure of whether or what he should be singing, and the compositions are quite quirky, distinctly Carla Bley but with a (not-always-musical) twist, and with a very particular sense of humour (not always funny). And the whole thing seems like it was put together with insufficient rehearsal. Very transparently, nothing here is essential, and much of it borders on un-musical. But, luck of fate, this is better than one might guess, if just for its uniqueness. The best tune here is the closer "I'm a Mineralist", but songs like "Can't get my Motor to Start" and "Wervin" have a sort of odd-ball dumb charm. Not likely an album you will constantly come back to, nor put in your top 1000, it is nonetheless a refreshing happy listen if you are in the right mood, and you probably won't want to jettison it either. It is worth "something", even if it is hard to determine just what that is. I give this 5.9 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to lowish 3 PA stars.

Report this review (#1698239)
Posted Friday, March 3, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars 3.5 The first album by Nick Mason based in most of the ideas Carla Bley had at the time and she sent to him. The music is good in general, seems like jazz and RIO at some times. The lyrics I thing is the weakest thing of the album. Vocally is sung by Robbert Wyatt, and they are good, nothing spectacular, but sometimes he had his moments. The songs that i really liked were Cant get my motor to start, Hot river and Boo to you. I considered it best in terms of composition and more proggy than his other album, but i liked more the other one. at the end is a good album and very different to what he was doing.
Report this review (#2170399)
Posted Monday, April 1, 2019 | Review Permalink

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