I have quite a few Pat Metheny albums yet I consider this by far my favourite. It was actually the first one I'd ever heard by him and pehaps it is partly this that adds to its enduring appeal.
For those not familiar with this type of music it would be generally described as 'fusion' i.e. a kind of electro-jazz hybrid. If you think that sounds pretty awful well, generally you'd be right in my view (a lot of this genre sounds to me like atonal, dissonant nonsense). There's no need to worry here though as (with one or two exceptions) these instrumentals are simply lovely. 'Au Lait' always suggests to me a weird yet uplifting melange of imagery redolent of a Parisian fairground ride (whatever that is!)and, even now, I'm still taken there. Often 'fusion' and indeed Metheny himself can be accused of being a more cerebral rather than moving experience but this track is the ultimate testament to the fact that this is not always the case.
'Are You Going With Me?' is considered to be Metheny's 'calling card' and a fine track it is too showcasing his trademark Larry Adler-like guitar sound. Another standout track is 'James' which, for some reason, reminds me of the old theme tune from 'Taxi' (called 'Angela' I think). Again the musicianship is subtle, organic and understated and belies the fact that Metheny really is somewhat of a muso technician. Often with jazz recordings I'm left with the sense that there may be much to admire yet little to love - this doesn't apply here though.
If you like this album and are keen to get more Metheny material in the same vein then I would particularly recommend the following: As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls,, Travels,Beyond The Missouri Sky,A Map Of The World plus Works and Works 2. All these tend to be his more tuneful compositions and I would recommend you start with these if that's your preference. Otherwise buy carefully as you could easily end up with the most 'challenging' (i.e. dreadful) material (e.g Zero Tolerance of Silence) or the tedious 'supermarket muzak' of which counts for a sizeable amount of Metheny's output (this sort of thing is probably considered 'genius'by those less philistine than I though).
P.S. Even a relatively clued up Metheny buyer can make mistakes; I recently bought One Quiet Night expecting great things (his purely acoustic playing is generally beautiful). What a mistake! Awful, simply awful (where are the TUNES man??)!
Recorded in 1981 and released in 1982 this is one of The Metheny Groups finest. Its the last album with Dan Gottlieb on drums before he was replaced by Paul Wertico. Nana Vasconcelos augments the quartet with percussion and voice. The Metheny format seemed to me to be more varied in this early 80s period producing their most memorable albums. (As Falls Wichita, So Falls Witchita Falls/Travels/First Circle) The short percussive, catchy Barcarole leads into the classic Are You Going With Me, one of Metheny's showstoppers on stage. Au Lait is a laid-back, mood piece with some neat, soulful playing from Metheny and Lyle Mays on piano. Eighteen is a typical bright and breezy picking up from The American Garage album feel. Then comes the title track. The most powewrful track by far but also the least commercial. Its firmly in the Ornette Coleman harmolodics camp and makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. Play it loud. Fabulous. They played a fantastic updated version of this when I saw them in London in June 2002. James goes back to the melodic feel and is thouroughly pleasant. THe album close with atmospheric The Bat Part II, layers of sound over fluttering cymbals.
The first album where Metheny embraced guitar synth. Expecting an element of hit and miss from a learning curve and over-experimentation, you'd be wrong. The first two tracks just mesmerise in their use of atmosphere -object lessons in how to choose taste over technique. Au lait is understated, 18 almost rocking and if the title track is a little frantic, it only provides the shade to the rest of the album's unbearable lightness of being.
Metheny has won somewhere in the region of 16 grammys in several categories but is ignored by the mass media. Never mind, to hear good music one has to actually search it out and make an effort and take a chance on buying it to do so.
I first heard of Metheny when i saw a concert on TV where he featured as part of the Joni Mitchell band. I searched out a couple of his albums, this being one of them. At first i wasn't too sure about it. But after a few listens this is one of my desert island discs and Metheny i consider to be one of the great guitarists and composers around. This album reinstates melody back into jazz, it is accessible but also very daring, combining new technologies of guitar synthesiser and keyboard effects played orchestrally in a group context. There's a lot in the cauldron here with great contribution fron Nanconcelas on percussion and voice. Metheny's guitar tone is bell like and soft and he is along with Allan Holdsworth the best guitar synthesists around. The tracks Barcarole and Offramp are the most demanding but this is balanced out by beautiful songs like the Bat, James and au lait. Eighteen combines jazz with rock.
Metheny plays in a lot of different styles and contexts. I am open minded and derive enjoyment from all of them- jazz trio/group with esoteric influences/duets and the more difficult but rewarding freer forms. Enjoy!
If you're looking at this item, then you likely already know the music. You're just wondering if it is worth buying this new 180 gram version, right?
ECM Records always made high quality pressings back in the day. This new version is no exception. I do not have a copy of the original version to compare with, but I think you will be happy with this copy. As stated, it is on 180g vinyl, very clean, no noise. The packaging appears to be the same as the original; i.e. no new liner notes, bonus tracks, etc. Perhaps the sleeve is made from heavier stock(?).
So have no hesitations about buying this version. I'm very happy with mine. I think this is probably Pat Methney Group's best recording. The music floats on a cloud of reverb, but that is part of its appeal.
I saw the Pat Metheny Group on television at around this time and had never seen or heard anything like it. Long haired jazz musicians using all manner of instruments usually associated with Rock and even prog. Naná Vasconcelos joined the group on percussion and vocals adding further depth to the sound (he had appeard on the Metheny / Mays "As falls Wichita..." the previous year). Are You Going With Me? is the best know track with a lovely lazy groove that builds into an incredibly intense Guitar Synth solo but there is a lot of variety here with some of the groups more free numbers balanced against some very laid back tunes.
This album is so gorgeous, sumptuous and a delight from start to finnish. Feeling stressed.Fed up with work, with people? Put this on and your troubles will just gently ease away, especially side 1(oops thats the vinyl in me),tracks 1-3 for you digital people out there. Side 2 is a more upbeat affair but still oh so relaxing. A beautiful beautiful album delivered by TOP quality musicians. Im not a fan as such, Pat having only grabbed my attention when he performed This Is Not America with Bowie. So im not some fan obsessive trying to shove somebody down your throat, more just recognising a masterpiece when I hear it.
Many, many years ago when this album came out I was working on the road travelling a lot. I had a tape of this and played it in the car. It got me through miles of otherwise boring road time and I actually couldn't wait to get back on the road to hear Off Ramp. It's great to have in my cd collection after all these years.
This was the Pat Metheny album I heard in the early 80's - most of it had a serene and calming quality. I bought it on vynil. Lent it out, never to see its return. My daughter bought me it again as a birthday gift. I spin it out late at with a glass of wine. How else would you spin an album like this?