Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Listen to Samples
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A Bit Dated, But Still Great Guitar
Bradley F. Smith | Miami Beach, FL | 04/06/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Though I've listened to Pat Metheny since before he released Bright Size Life (still his best) in 1975, I'd never owned this one until recently. I happen to own a high end sound system, so the mastering of the cd sounds ok to me. Yes, the bass is hollow and the drums too punchy. That's partly the fault of late '70s studio trends, and partly the style of Gottleib, the drummer, and Egan, the bassist, both soon gone from the group. The guitar improvs on this, though, can't be questioned. And neither can the composing and arranging. It's only 35 mins long. Obviously, it needs remastering and extra material, assuming there is any. Evidently, Metheny is on the outs with ECM, and that's why we're about 6-8 years overdue for remasters of all the great ECM albums. Still, I can recommend this one to die-hard Metheny fans who, inexplicably, didn't buy it 25 years ago, like me. It ranks maybe 15th to 18th on the list of Metheny must-have albums, however."
At the Crossroads...
Yuzo Crazy | Provo, UT USA | 01/08/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When you're gradually becoming a top-dog musician, you're constantly experimenting with different techniques to improve your craft so that you finally find a voice that pleases both your fans and yourself. It's not a painless process, and despite the fact that they're one of the greatest jazz bands of the modern era and it doesn't seem like they've ever encountered imperfection's ugly face, the Pat Metheny Group had to endure the same struggle.
It's not that "American Garage" is a bad album. In fact, it's quite good, and there are some tracks in its surprisingly short selection that have withstood the test of time despite the somewhat dated production. But the history behind this album is rooted in contention. Metheny has repeatedly remarked that this is his least favorite album that he's ever made with the Group: it was too commercial and the collaborative writing with his partner-in-benevolent-crime ('cause it's almost a crime that he's so good), keyboarding prodigy Lyle Mays, lacked focus and direction. Also, the lineup changes that were made shortly afterwards, such as the replacement of borderline Jaco Pastorius imitator Mark Egan, reflect perhaps a sense of falling out from within.
You can't blame them for wanting to make an effort to reach out to a mass audience, which seems to be the case judging from its heavy emphasis on rock 'n' roll. I mean, come on, their first record is a classic, and they HAD to capitalize on a follow-up. Despite Metheny's complaints, this is an album that is worth the listen. It opens up with a jazz/roots rocker "(Cross the) Heartland", a strong jazz-rocker, riddled with complex rhythms and rousing piano and synths. I'm not gonna lie, and I know that PMG is referred to as "great music to listen to while driving", but "Heartland" fits that bill quite nicely. Its follow-up "Airstream" is a favorite of Metheny's, and even though I hated it at first, it has definitely grown on me with repeated listening. It's refreshing to hear an early Mays establish a balance between left and right-hand playing (he returns to right-hand dependency on the soothing yet somewhat dwindling "The Search"), and the tune of the song almost sounds like "After the Love Has Gone" by Earth, Wind, and Fire.
The title track is a rowdy, freewheeling, almost gospel-rocker, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don't think I've heard the band be this loose before. You can even hear some cries of almost frat-boy delight as Metheny lets loose on the axe, and sometimes I could just picture all of them standing in front of a giant American flag. The final piece "The Epic" is certainly what it is, a 13-minute long jam that goes from atmospheric post-bop jazz to hot samba back to atmospheric post-bop jazz to pop to hot samba and then Springsteen-esque rock. It's all over the place, and while parts of it are certainly enjoyable, particularly Mays's and Metheny's smoking hot solos in the samba section, I think this and "The Search" were what Metheny was talking about when he meant a lack of focus. Nevertheless, they're still very strong tunes, and I think Metheny doesn't give himself enough credit. "American Garage" is a entertaining romp that sees the Group let their hair down a little bit, if you get my drift. I wouldn't call it essential, but I wouldn't pass it up, either. It's a bunch of virtuosos having some good fun, and that's an American way.
Oh, by the way, I'm sick of people calling the Pat Metheny Group's music "Weather Channel music". I know music is a matter of personal taste, but calling it that undermines their musical virtuosity. Muzak helped destroy the public's perception of the great American art of jazz.
GRADE FOR MUZAK: D- (salvaged from "F" because at least they recognize Kenny G as their posterboy.)"