Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault: Al Di Meola – Electric Rendezvous

In 1980, Di Meola released the double album “Spendido Hotel”. Keeping with the Miami Vice covers theme.

And then the subsequent tour was captured live and released at the start of 1982 as “Tour De Force – Live”.

Towards the end of 1982, “Electric Rendezvous” was released.

The band for the album is Al Di Meola on electric and acoustic guitars, Anthony Jackson on bass guitar, Jan Hammer on keyboards, Steve Gadd on drums and Mingo Lewis on percussion.

God Bird Change

Percussionist god Mingo Lewis is still writing a track per album. This is his contribution.

The bass and drum groove throughout the song is a favorite as there is so much energy.

And of course there is a percussion interlude.

Electric Rendezvous

The title track at almost 8 minutes long.

The Intro is essential listening, with a clean tone guitar playing fast arpeggios while a nice relaxing guitar melody plays over it.

From 1.12 it changes. More Jazz fusion and alot of chromatics over time signatures changes.

From 2.11, a bass riff begins which the distorted guitars then copy. This creates a foundation for Di Meola to solo over, but it’s brief as they groove on the riff.

At the 4 minute mark, a metal sounding riff is played which allows Di Meola and Hammer to solo one after each other.

Passion, Grace & Fire

Paco de Lucia appears and the title of this song would be used to promote the run of acoustic shows that Di Meola, de Lucia and John MacLaughlin would do.

So there’s a lot of acoustic playing, fast fingers and lush arpeggios.

Cruisin’

Written by Jan Hammer it’s got a keyboard hook that is addictive and catchy.

It rocks and perfect for doing exactly what the title says.

Black Cat Shuffle

Written by Philippe Saisse, who also plays keyboards on this, it’s a blues groove with Di Meola’s Lydian and Mixolydian soloing.

The last 60 seconds has some great hard rock soloing from Di Meola.

Ritmo de la Noche

Lounge Waltz music with a Flamenco flavor.

Then some fast shred and make to the Waltz music.

Somalia

A short 90 second instrumental. Arpeggios and an exotic guitar melody as it’s centerpiece.

Jewel Inside a Dream

A riff that reminds me of ELP and their song “From The Beginning” dominates the song.

And you have Hammer and Di Meola trading licks on the keyboard and guitar.

I’m the end it’s a different album from its predecessors but still worthy.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault: Al Di Meola – Casino

Its album number 3 for Al Di Meola, released in 1978.

This time around its more of a band with Al Di Meola on all things guitar related, Barry Miles on keyboards, Anthony Jackson on bass, Steve Gadd on drums, Mingo Lewis with Eddie Colon on percussion.

While the first two albums had a lot of rock and metal overtones to it, this one leans more in the jazz fusion domain, in which Rock and Metal is not the dominant fusion partner as it was on the first two albums.

Egyptian Danza

An exotic riff made up of single notes begins this song. If you’ve listened to the first two albums it would be familiar, however if this was your first exposure to Di Meola it would be unusual and innovative, full of time changes, Arabic like influences and unison bass/guitar riffs.

It’s progressive and the drumming from Gadd thunders throughout the song.

Chasin’ The Voodoo

Percussionist extraordinaire Mingo Lewis is back again, with another excellent composition. He is the one that wrote “The Wizard” on the debut album and “Flight Over Rio” on the second album. From the whole album, this song is the progressive rocker and a favorite.

As expected, the song begins with percussion before a progressive bass riff kicks in. The drumming is frantic. Then the guitars kick in with chords and Di Meola’s superfast machine gun alternate picking.

There is a lot to unpack here, but my favourite section is brief, between 4.15 and 4.25.

And you’ll be pressing play on this, for the very underrated bass guitar playing.

Dark Eye Tango

A slow groovy bass line begins and when the drums come in, it’s like a wedding waltz, which Di Meola solos over appropriately.

At 1.38 it goes into a Latin/Flamenco feel, as the tempo increases and the solos while repetitive are catchy like a good Chorus.

Then at 2.57, a brief distorted guitar riff begins, which reminds me of Rush and Alex Lifeson, before it moves back to the Latin Flamenco feel, 15 seconds later.

On a sidenote, the keyboard riffs are great to play on guitar as well.

Senor Mouse

It’s a Chick Corea cover from Di Meola’s days in Return To Forever before he went solo. But he slows this one down and it doesn’t have the manic interplay of the original.

Regardless it’s still a good interpretation and it feels like the start of a movie.

Some sections are atonal and some sections are locked into a mode, with some chromatic notes being used as passing notes.

I like the bass riff at the 5 minute mark which Di Meola then goes into a flamenco like lead to complement. His palm muting technique is excellent.

Fantasia Suite For Two Guitars

It has four movements, in “Viva La Danzarina”, “Guitars of the Exotic Isle”, “Rhapsody Italia” and “Bravoto Fantasia”.

While all the ingredients are there for a flamenco sounding track, it’s more classical and Tuscany, then Spanish/Portuguese.

The section which I think is “Rhapsody Italia”, has strummed major chords with sevenths and ninths added while Di Meola throws in a fast machine gun lick here and there.

Casino

The closer. 9 plus minutes.

How good is the opening riff?

This album is a lot more experimental than the previous two albums and while “Elegant Gypsy” is the jewel in the crown, “Casino” shows a style that he would carry through from the mid 80’s and into the 90’s.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault: Al Di Meola – Elegant Gypsy

“Elegant Gypsy” is the second album by Al Di Meola, released in 1977 by Columbia Records.

The musicians for the album are Al Di Meola on guitar, piano, synthesizer and percussion, Paco de Lucia on guitar, Jan Hammer and Barry Miles on keyboards, Anthony Jackson on bass guitar, Steve Gadd and Lenny White on drums and Mingo Lewis on congas, synthesizers, organ and percussion.

“Flight Over Rio”

Percussionist Mingo Lewis has written another 10/10 opening track.

Like “The Wizard” on the debut album, this track is loaded with great riffs.

At 7 minutes and 16 seconds, it’s the first 90 seconds which is essential listening, just for the bass riff.

Tool built a career from bass riffs like this. It also reminds me of the soundtrack work that John Carpenter would do, like in “Escape From New York”.

Then it goes into something similar to “The Wizard” with a bass groove, which allows Al Di Meola to flex his chops.

Check out the lead break from 2.48 to 3.48. After that Di Meola goes into a solo tag with the keyboardist Jan Hammer, which has Di Meola soloing on a few bars and then Hammer and they go back and forth. Like the Dream Theater guys.

“Midnight Tango”

Written by Al Di Meola and at 7 minutes and 28 seconds in length.

Press play to hear jazz rock fusion in all its glory from the 3 minute mark. It begins with some fast major key playing, however it is brief and then it goes into a Latin-esque passage. It stays within this domain, while Di Meola delivers a lead break which Santana lovers would say is from good ol’ Carlos.

At 4.58, it goes into a lick which reminds me of licks from 80’s Heavy Metal artists. And Di Meola knows a good lick when he hears one and he carries this lick and chord progression all the way to the end.

“Mediterranean Sundance”

Just over 5 minutes long, this Al Di Meola composition is the first song I heard from Al Di Meola and it made me a fan instantly.

It’s the crown in his jewel and showcases his acoustic prowess to the world. Of course he calls in his friends to lend a hand in Paco de Lucia and their playing is at another level.

This song would also get released many years later, from a live recording that Al Di Meola, Paco de Lucia and John McLaughlin would do on the “Friday Night In San Francisco” album.

Listen to the sections from the 28 second mark to the 51 second mark. It’s all fingers folks, no pick. So just press play, lay back, close your eyes, be in awe at the playing and let the music take you away.

“Race with Devil on Spanish Highway”

Written by Al Di Meola, this is the track that was referenced by the 80’s players as an influence. Once you hear it, you will know why.

A simple bass riff begins proceedings, then Di Meola joins with a distorted guitar. After repeating a few times, they both go into some serious fast alternate picking. Hearing the bass and guitar play in unison is pure bliss.

After the hectic intro at around 1.15 it goes into this jazz rock lounge section. Its relaxed and it actually feels that you are cruising the streets in your car.

But at 2.09, a section begins which is heavy metal. While those riffs are playing, Al Di Meola starts his shred solo. By 3.13, it ends and transitions into a different section which is a combination of the previous sections mentioned.

Then “the section” begins from 4.10. The Intro riff is played, but everything is faster, more frantic. And at 4.51, Di Meola is soloing super-fast to about the 5.10 mark.

He then pulls an awesome riff out for the outro, which has some of his best soloing in it, moving from emotion to super-fast alternate picking.

“Lady of Rome, Sister of Brazil”

A short acoustic piece at 1.46, a calm within all the technicality delivered by Di Meola and de Lucia.

“Elegant Gypsy Suite”

At 9 minutes and 16 seconds long, it’s definitely elegant. So many different styles are covered but back then it was all just music. Styles and genres didn’t matter.

My favourite section is from the 8 minute mark to the end of the song.

This album is his masterpiece. If you like guitar instrumental music, then your collection is not complete with this album.

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1976 Part 2.5: Tommy Bolin – Private Eyes

I had no idea about Tommy Bolin until Motley Crue covered the song “Teaser” and released it on their “Raw Tracks II” EP which came out in 1990 for the Japanese market and suddenly I was scrolling the used record racks for Tommy Bolin albums or albums that had him playing.

Actually, the Motley Crue version of “Teaser” was officially released on a 1989, compilation album called “Stairway To Heaven/Highway To Hell” which featured the bands who performed at the Moscow Music Peace Festival. And of course the song re-appeared on their “Decade Of Decadence” collection in 1992.

Shock horror to everyone these days who grew up with Wikipedia, I was surprised to read that he was in Deep Purple, but only for a brief moment and that he was in Deep Purple with David Coverdale who was another artist’s back catalogue I was digging deep into during the same period.

The Tommy Bolin “Teaser” album came out in 1975, and while successful he couldn’t really tour behind it due to his Deep Purple commitments, so he kept on writing and over an 8 day period, “Private Eyes” was recorded and released in 1976. This would be his last studio album before he died of a drug overdose on December 4, 1976 at 25 years of age.

It’s worth pointing out that from 1969 to 1976, Bolin was involved in 10 studio albums, with the bands Zephyr, James Gang (he replaced the guitarist who replaced Joe Walsh), Billy Cobham, Alphonse Mouzon, Moxy, Deep Purple (he replaced Ritchie Blackmore) and as a solo artist.

To put into context, Metallica have released 10 studio albums in 38 years. Avenged Sevenfold have released 7 albums in 20 years. The different work ethics of the artists and the labels across different decades is evident.

As a 15 year old, he hitchhiked from his hometown to Denver and met up with a singer called Jeff Cook to form American Standard. Cook would also act as a co-writer for Bolin’s solo output. He then joined Zephyr and after a few albums, he grabbed drummer Bobby Berge to form “Energy” with Jeff Cook on vocals.

But the fusion of styles in the music of “Energy” didn’t resonate with people and the labels. But Bolin did enough to get the attention of Billy Cobham who asked him to play on his record. And then the high profile gigs and studio work started. And by the time he was in Deep Purple he was heavily into drugs and alcohol.

“Bustin’ Out For Rosey”

Its funk rock groove is great to jam to.

The outro jam with the fuzzed out guitar licks and brass section is great listening.

“Sweet Burgundy”

I don’t know who influenced who, but “Wonderful Tonight” from Eric Clapton sounds very similar to this in the intro.

The slide guitar is sublime.

And in the outro, they just jam out the main melody, something that Bruce Springsteen would do to great effect with “Born In The U.S.A” when they keep playing the vocal melody in the outro.

“Post Toastee”

A nine minute song.

So many songs came out between the years of 1968 and 1978 that had similar riffs to either “Cocaine” or “Sunshine Of Your Love”. This is another for the first two minutes and 20 seconds.

Then a bass groove comes in and it’s all funky and soulful. As the bass and drums jam, Bolin starts his lead break. Listen to his phrasing, how he lets certain notes ring and others he deadens.

It’s this fusion of so many different styles which makes Bolin unique.

At the 4.30 mark, the “Cocaine” riff is back in.

Then Bolin shreds away again for the rest of the song.

“Shake The Devil”

It’s a blues jazz fusion cut, like how Joe Walsh played in James Gang.

But at 2.34, the embryo of bands like Iron Maiden is there. Check out the change of pace, the riff and the lead breaks.

“Gypsy Soul”

It’s like a campfire “Love Boat” acoustic cut.

And what I like about this is that Bolin stays within the acoustic guitar and delivers a stellar flamenco lead outro break.

“Someday We’ll Bring Our Love Home”

Carmine Appice filled on drums on this one, as Bobby Berge was unavailable that day. It could have appeared on a Steely Dan album. Its bluesy and full of soul.

“Hello Again”

The strummed chords outline a similar progression like “Free Bird” as the song percolates in that acoustic domain with violins and violas.

“You Told Me That You Loved Me”

A bluesy jazz fusion cut full of sleaze and soul with an ascending walking bass riff.

I like the change at the 3 minute mark, and then the brass instruments come in and the leads starts and its solos to the end.

If you like a lot of guitar playing, this album has it. Crank it.

P.S. Reggie McBride on bass and Bobby Berge on drums are excellent and unsung heroes on this album.

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