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Al Di Meola - Land Of The Midnight Sun CD (album) cover


Al Di Meola


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.95 | 163 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars If you happen to enjoy guitar shredding, then Al di Meola was simply a force of nature in 1976. This style obviously turns some people off, but for me, exactly the opposite is true. This guy had something to say (I rock faster than anyone), and being young and brash, he apparently wasn't afraid to leave that message plastered inside your ear canal. The result is a raw energy and intensity, the likes of which you won't find many other places (or at least I haven't). Of course, this attitude only works if you create good music, which can only be accomplished if you have musicians that won't be left behind or intimidated. It is here that di Meola achieves his true success.

Other guitar "gods", including Malmsteen, Satriani, and even di Meola in his later years, would be wise to keep this in mind: you don't make great music by dominating lesser musicians. Fortunately, that's not the case here!

The Wizard. What a way to announce your first solo album! This one grabs you and won't let go, as di Meola, Mingo, and Mouzon absolutely let loose, while Pastorius lays down some bouncy bass. The melodies are catchy, and the guitar of course is intense, but the highlights are the absolute explosions of percussion, particularly at the 2:30 and 4:00 minute marks. These guys came to rock.

Land of the Midnight Sun. This seems a strange choice for title track, because it's more light and playful than the rest. I also think the refrain (especially di Meola's raw tone here) wears thin for a 10-minute track. These are minor quibbles, because it's certainly an enjoyable, if not virtuosic, listen every time.

Suite: Golden Dawn. And we reach the highlight of the album, on par with extended fusion classics such as Cobham's Stratus and Mahavishnu Orchestra's One Word. A frenetic beginning quickly segues into a mellow section, which is all just setting up the main funky groove that will last for the next 7 minutes or so. The only word for me to describe this jam is infectious. The first time I heard Pastorious' groovy bassline coupled with the backbeat congas, I was absolutely hooked, and I have been ever since. Miles also adds some needed light keys, though the synth section has not aged as well. Yes it lacks a bit of focus and meanders, but if you're going to be a fan of fusion, some degree of this is necessary.

Short Tales of the Black Forest. Excellent playful piano and guitar interplay. If you enjoy An Evening with Rudess and Petrucci, that kind of music started right here in my book. Great end to the album, and an effective change of pace from the previous rocker.

For a debut album, 4 stars seems a no-brainer here. It's too unfocused for a masterpiece, but that's part of the charm: di Meola and company's goal was to make fun music, not to churn out a seamless, polished classic. The result for me is unique and a definite keeper.

Flucktrot | 4/5 |


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