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Al Di Meola - McLaughlin - Paco De Lucia

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Al Di Meola - McLaughlin - Paco De Lucia Friday Night In San Francisco album cover
4.19 | 124 ratings | 21 reviews | 48% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Live, released in 1981

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Mediterranean Sundance/Rio Ancho (11:31)
2. Short Tales of the Black Forest (8:43)
3. Frevo Rasgado (7:55)
4. Fantasia Suite (8:50)
5. Guardian Angel (Studio Recording) (4:01)

Total Time: 41:00

Line-up / Musicians

- Paco de Lucía / guitar (acoustic), guitar
- John McLaughlin / guitar (acoustic), guitar
- Al di Meola / guitar (acoustic), guitar

Releases information

LP Columbia 84962 (1981)
LP Columbia 37152 (1981)
CD Columbia 37152 (1990)
CD Sony 64410 (1994)
CD Sony 65168 (1997)
CD Philips 800 047-2 (????)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Mandrakeroot for the last updates
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Buy AL DI MEOLA - MCLAUGHLIN - PACO DE LUCIA Friday Night In San Francisco Music

AL DI MEOLA - MCLAUGHLIN - PACO DE LUCIA Friday Night In San Francisco ratings distribution

(124 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(48%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (10%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

AL DI MEOLA - MCLAUGHLIN - PACO DE LUCIA Friday Night In San Francisco reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by erik neuteboom
5 stars Not every proghead will be pleased with this addition (an acoustic blend of jazz, blues, rock and flamenco) but I'm delighted about it because it evokes very pleasant memories. I have seen this trio two times, first in the south of France in '81 (in an ancient bullfight arena) and then in my hometown The Hague, it was completely sold out and loaded with guitarfreaks. I remember that one yelled in a sheer euphoric state "this is better than sex with my wife!". On this album you can enjoy the amazing skills and different styles from three virtuosic guitarplayers: Paco De Lucia with his innovative flamenco guitar technique, John McLaughlin with his stunning speed and, last but not least, Al DiMeola with his distinctive 'deading' of the strings. The interplay (in different duo's and in the end as a trio) is awesome, a genuine "guitar heaven"! The way they follow or challenge each other is so exciting, these three musicians are the absolute summit. They play jazz, rock, blues and of course flamenco and there is even room for humor when they start to play the tune of the Pink Panther, very cool! I have to admit that at some moments the 'scale-acrobatics' sound a bit freaky but in general this is superb guitarwork, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED TO ALL GUITAR AFICIONADOS!!

Review 2 Prog Archives has turned into a very eclectic site because this week we could celebrate inclusions by Iron Maiden and ... John McLaughlin, one of the most skillfull, innovative and acclaimed guitarists in the world! In the late Seventies and early Eighties I was very much into jazzrock so I discovered John McLaughlin and gradually purchased albums from him with the Mahavishnu Orchestra, with Carlos Santana and of course solo. One of his most exciting project is with two other great guitar players, Paco De Lucia and Al DiMeola. I have seen this trio two times, first in the south of France in '81 (in an ancient bullfight arena) and then in my hometown The Hague, it was completely sold out and loaded with guitarfreaks. I remember that one yelled in a sheer euphoric state "this is better than sex with my wife!". On this album you can enjoy the amazing skills and different styles from three virtuosic guitarplayers: Paco De Lucia with his innovative flamenco guitar technique, John McLaughlin with his stunning speed and Al DiMeola with his distinctive 'deading' of the strings. The interplay (in different duo's and in the end as a trio) is awesome, a genuine "guitar heaven"! The way they follow or challenge each other is so exciting, these three musicians are the absolute summit. They play jazz, rock, blues and of course flamenco and there is even room for humor when they start to play the tune of the Pink Panther, very cool! I have to admit that at some moments the 'scale-acrobatics' sound a bit freaky but in general this is superb guitarwork. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED TO ALL GUITAR AFICIONADOS!

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A fiend of mine recommended this album to me, in special this "trio", in that time i didnt know John Mclaughlin and also i didnt know Al di Meola, but with Paco de Lucia i remember that i said well, let`s try. I was lucky because i found this album in a second - handed store and it was really cheap, about 5 dollars, so i felt that maybe it wasnt a good album, but i was wrong.

Since the first time that i listened to it, i fell in love with it, despite i wasn`t (im not) a flamenco fan, i got impressed because i couldnt believe the beauty of that 3 guitars sound, and now im still , what a form to play aoustic guitar, is simply awesome. Now that i know a bit more about music, i know that the first song is from Al di Meola and its included in his Elegant Gypsy album.

"Mediterran Sundance" and "Rio Ancho", (both songs as one ) is a extraordinary song, here it was performed by Paco de Lucia and Al di Meola,since the first chord we can imagine how great would be this album, here we can realize that in the world exist monsters of acoustic guitar, we can listen to their different skills and ways to play , the album is flamenco - oriented but with great jazzy tones. This song has a lenght over 10 minutes, so can you imagine how many strings and chords can they play in 10 minutes?, is amazing, poor of their fingers, but it is their job. "Short Tales of the Black Forest" is a composition by Chick Corea but here performed by Di Meola and Mclaughlin, this was the first time that i listened to Mahavishnu`s guitar, an i immediately got shocek, what a great manner to play guitar, this song has good changes suddenly is quiet but suddenly it turns faster and faster, in fact here Pink Panther`s theme makes an appereance. "Frevo Rasgado" is not less than the others, but is maybe my less favorite , it was performed by Di Meola and De Lucia and it shows us again the perfect harmony between both guitars. "Fantasia Suite" is simply amazing, what a beautiful song, and a particular detail is that this song was performed by the three guitarist, so imagine 3 guitars at the same time talking each other, that is amazing. "Guardian Angel" is the last song of this great album, the only one composed by the great Mclaughlin , but this is a studio version, no longer in concert, it is a good song, but its pretty short. I think between the conterct we can listen to various changes and moods, but im pretty sure that it is not progressive rock, is more flamenco and jazz oriented, so , for that reason i can give it more than 4 stars in this site, because it isnt a masterpiece of progressive rock , if i had my way i`ll give it without a doubt 5 stars, because it is great, but sadly not progressive.

Great!! Excellent addition for every prog fan.

Review by Guillermo
4 stars This album bings me some memories. In 1980-81 I was in prep school. Some of my older cousins and their friends were listening to this album then. I can`t remember very well if this trio of guitarists came to play to my city, but I remember that some T.V. channels broadcasted a concert from them. At that time, some of my older cousins were still in the University or had just finished their studies, and I think that this album and this kind of music was a fad then among them, and I also liked some of this music.

This album has three different syles of playing the guitar, which, curiously worked very well. It has a lot improvisation. The trio of guitarists are very good, of course, but Paco de Lucia`s Flamenco style shines a bit more than the others. But they share lead guitar parts and it is funny to listen to them. It is a very good album.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Since I have memory, I've been a Paco de Lucia fan so one day searching for one album that I can't remember now, found this masterpiece, already knew about John Mc'Laughlin because of Mahavishnu and had heard excellent comments about Al DiMeola.

Without hesitation bought the LP in the same instant and went running to my house. Listening it for the first time was one of the most rewarding and at the same time more frustrating moments in my life. Rewarding because I have never heard something so close to perfection and frustrating because I realized that I would never be able to play remotely like this guys and abandoned my guitar lessons.

Is it Prog? Don't believe so but neither I care, it's just perfect and that's all that matters, three men with three different styles playing blues, Jazz and Flamenco in perfect synchronicity with only acoustic guitars and equal skills.

Something people need to understand is that with an electric guitar and easier with a band you can create an effect to cover some lack of ability to play a section, but when playing alone with acoustic guitars, there's no place for mistakes and if you do it on stage, you have suicidal tendencies,

No effects to hide your inability to perform a song and no possible trick, if you succeed you're a musical god if you fail you're human, this the trio of musicians never failed, something that is evident just listening the reaction of the audience, in an acoustic guitar concert people remain quiet in respectful silence but the public simply can't avoid screaming each time one of the three musicians makes a perfect solo.

My favorite track would be Sundance/Rio Ancho. DiMeola with his delicate style and Paco de Lucía with his frantic Flamenco touch make a perfect combination, as if it was a contest between this two excellent musicians, but a contest where there's not a winner except the public, simply breathtaking.

"Frevo Rasgado" and the Chick Corea's track "Short Tales of the Black Forest" are outstanding but wouldn't be fair to ignore "Fantasía Suite", where the three monsters play together, the cliché phrase "They don't make albums like this anymore" is more accurate than ever.

The three musicians released another album in 1996 called simply The Guitar Trio but with less success, there was nothing spontaneous and people was expecting more than what any human can give..

Now, how in hell can I rate this album?

5 stars could be too much according to the guidelines because it isn't Prog' but 4 stars is too low for perfection. I will make en exception and give 5 stars to a non Prog' release, Friday Night in San Francisco is essential for everybody and a masterpiece of any genre.

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars How can such a fantastic meeting between three giants give anything else but a superb result? Having seen this exact trio twice and varying line-upos twice, I always felt the actual record DID fall short of the live experience, as of course is the same with almost all of the live albums around, it just doesn't replace the "being there" experience.

I'd say two things about this album: 1- If JMcL and PDL are indisputable guitar kings in their own right , ADM was only a major challenger,although by now he was raking in all of the awards of those years for best guitarists. Yet, one can feel that ADM is an ultra competitive person, because every time I've seen him in the trio, the evening ended up is a guitar gunslinger, with everybody pulling tricks and trump cards from the back pockets not to be outdone by the other two. ADM trying to be faster than JMcL or being more Spanish than PDL. In general , what this gives is an indigest evening of guitar histrionics, where only the fans of gratuitious virtuosity won something, leaving the other fans frustrated, because the trio played AGAINST easch other instead of the trio playing WITH each other.

2- I saw twice the same type of venture , but this time without ADM, but with Larry Coryell, and the resulting music is so very different and 1000 times more pleasant. Indeed, Coryell is not a competitive beast and comes from the same generation than JMcL, so he probably feels he's got nothing to prove.... And indeed he doesn't and doesn't even try to up the ante with his colleagues. So all of a sudden JMcL and PDL are pushed in the back and can concentrate on being themselves, delivering beautiful music and serving the night's trio.

Coryell having his own style, much the same way that PDL and JMcL do, he is himself. And this is where it hurts for ADM: his lack of style: either speed lightning ala LMcL, or Flamenco ala PDL or Latino ala Santana, he never has his own spot and therefore must gain it by elbowing and shouldering the others.

Let this rant not deter you from having a great time listening to a good album, that might have been only marginally better with images.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Three among the best acoustic guitar players in the 70's offer you an unbelievable jazzy acoustic guitar performance, played LIVE at the speed of the light! No bass, no drums, no keyboards: just pure acoustic guitars. You are going to be enchanted by the technical performance and the perfect synchronization of those 3 virtuosos. There are tons of rhythm patterns and extremely fast flamenco solos, slightly romantic. It is not rare to hear in the background the crowd to positively respond to the musical extravaganzas. There is often a "conversation" between the 3 guitars themselves! Shall we add this: graceful, beautiful and dynamic. If you like acoustic guitars on some of the Return to forever's albums, then get this record as soon as possible. For people who do not know jazz very much, let's say this is an amplified "La Villa Strangiato" intro (Rush). After the listen, if you still do not like acoustic guitars, then there is about nothing one can do for you to like them.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This was quite popular live recording of the three flamenco jazz guitar virtuosos and has been often praised by fans of technical mastery, speed and fluency of guitar playing. Unfortunately, if you don't belong to these above mentioned, you would probably find this album somewhat boring and monotonous. No doubt, three master musicians are delevering their best to show technical capabilities, but there is no enough sensation of totality of music. Apart from "Mediterranean Sundance", the remaining material is best when playing in the background. If tried to listen to carefully, I simply did not succeed in keeping attention. I am not a musician myself and this type of finger work showmanship does not imprees me as such, if there are no other elements of music that I strive to find. Good album but only for fans of these guys or of this type of acoustic/flamenco guitar music.
Review by Ricochet
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Friday Night In San Francisco is one of the most famous and greatly appreciated concert recordings in the filigreed but very strong time of jazz; and even if that comes too much credited or actually matters the least, it is still a breathtaking, amazing and perfect record of music and of the same mentionable jazz virtues. The Guitar Trio, alias the grand masters John McLaughlin, Paco De Lucia and Al Di Meola (the last one having replaced for good the rather sad taste Larry Coryell left, who couldn't resist in the ensemble, despite actually founding it in the first place), picked up such a natural time and earnest value, so that the rest of the concert, spotless and pleasant beyond imagination, simply takes on a bit of authentic magic, blended style-shine and star-struck genuine calmness of playing and sharing an experienced moment - afterwards, short as it is, the album stays as an endless masterpiece.

The lowest level this live extraordinaire release reaches is probably the one of jazz culture and art pretentiousness, both don't miss out of the sublimely discreet and smashingly smart Friday Night In San Francisco, but are only undermined by the lovely characters of improvising and tasting it all like an eclectic tremble and a fresh fun. All three artists escaped their utmost creative and classic period, as soloists, but that doesn't blur the great reasons why they ensembled in the first place, and sound that amazing when playing together: masterful vision, never tired emotions and aesthetics in playing, a smiling grace and an inventive individual strength, a precious novelty and gold-wrapped art feebleness going (or reaching) a collective impulse, mindblowing at least. All this, even further, gets a dimmer attention since the Guitar Trio plays, essentially, music, and the shattering eloquence appearance in a highly relaxed manner, as much as it does in a distinguished and incomparable one.

The style of this concert mostly expresses a lot of undertaken flamenco jazz and rock, guitar rock and improvised jazz, the first leading thus to Paco De Lucia having influenced or rather having convinced his fellow great friends to adapt their style towards this piece of heavenly expression and sensual affection, the second implies a lot of extraordinary and virtuoso guitar rustle (Al Di Meola being the first to think of, by his ravaging technique and rapid heartbeat, nevertheless the other two grand players don't slip from such a description at all), and the third finally meaning nothing more than playing a lot, within sensations of jazz, melody, acoustic novelty and suspirant expressions. Friday Night In San Francisco, while simple and sometimes spontaneous, gets a fantastic worth by sounding fantastic and shaking your music belief and sensibility in tremendous ways. That's the catch and the royal treat.

Five pieces, juicy and consonant, are the wondrous, poetic, marauding and feverish compositions shaping this wonderful concert. Meditteranean Sundance/Rio Ancho plays an epic arrangement of all qualities and special touches, starting from Al Di Meola's superb and well-known jazz theme to reach a part flamenco-syruped part guitar rock simple flowery drift, once the art is supreme and intense and the Trio plays the music of gentle, diving and concentrated emotions. You could dare say this piece, at least by the first part, is more catchy, but it is much too splendid and pure to get such strange ideas. Time stops under refinement and pleasure, this being the album's finest. Short Tales Of The Black Forest is no leftover piece, evoking an interesting unique rhythm of the custom guitar art. Under mild technical exploration, the better virtue is the dusty improvisation of complex melody and entertaining mist harmony, both impervious but also relinquished in a state of trembling adventure. Fooling, this time for good, with loveable themes, the piece is still a deep and sharp flamenco fast jazz dream. Frevo Rasgada caps a lot of precious dialog between the artists, the craft resembling the dynamic and squishing nature of their expressive habit. Small pleasures of melody are, themselves, fine, but this spice improvisation is a lovely chord-explosion, tasteful, breeze, eclectic rhythm-ed. Fantasia Suite opens a traditional air of music and melody under a lot of virtue guitar effects, the kind of fresh and original blossom that still keeps clean from elegant and inspiration of guitar melody flair. The crowd cheers ecstatically (already) the dynamic moments, which can't come anyhow but swerving, but Fantasia Suite mostly loves a charismatic and worthy guitar jazz articulation - with a finale of a Mediterranean fiesta. Mystery and fantasy brings some final colors. Guardian Angel, short and studio-taped, is of a flamenco-typical impression, creating a consistent free-wave, which actually doesn't say much as music, but tastes the quality under sheer euphemisms of guitar revolutionary rapidness. A happy listener gets to hear the different nuance the three guitars have, even if they combine under the same tranquil dexterity and rummer vision.

McLaughlin, Di Meola and De Lucia, all three amazing and classic artists of music, prove a grand trio of enormous quality, since this Friday Night marvelous album is an all-time classic, an exciting masterpiece and an essential thrill of superb music and craft. Absolutely recommended, even doubtlessly masterliness.

Review by obiter
5 stars Without a shadow of doubt one of the greatest live albums of any genre.

An unbelievable synergy between the incomparable Al Di Meola, Paco De Lucia and John McLaughlin. The outrageous talent assembled is remarkable in itself. In this recording they all clicked together perfectly.

Mediterranean Sundance is remarkable. you cannot listen to this perfromance without having your perception of the guitar altered. it transcends the normal boundaries and sets a standard against which, at least in my eyes, all live guitar performances are judged.

To say this is an essential prog album would be to diminish its value.

It is absloutely outstanding. A musical perfromance masterpiece.

Review by Garion81
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Sometimes the stars align just right things just come together like they were supposed to. This album is one of those times. I imagine myself sitting in the audience and with my eyes closed try and figure out who is playing what but I just get moved by the beauty these three masters evoke. In the end it doesn't matter who plays what because it is just so fantastic. Tremendous lines of melody come cascading down a waterfall of virtuosic playing now in flamenco, now in jazz and now in blues, to wash over you sometimes in torrents sometimes in droplets and sometimes in just a mist. Sometimes serious and sometimes in jest these guys run the whole gauntlet in just 41 minutes.

This is pure pleasure for me. I take this one out several times a year to just bask in its brilliance. My only complaint is it is too short. I wish they would add some bonus to track to the 6 releases but that is a minor complaint. This is like watching a bullfight with the speed of a motocross event. One of the few albums that really leaves me searching for adjectives and superlatives to woefully try and describe it. If you are a prog fan or fan of any technically challenging music you have to like this. If you don't then you must be dead. Without a shadow of doubt 5 stars.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars This album consists of only four tracks recorded live plus one studio recording. The complete running time is just over 40 minutes. The whole album is all acoustic and all instrumental with only the three guitarists on stage. That means no bass guitar, no drums, no keyboards and no percussion. From this it should be relatively clear that this is a guitar album and not by any means a Prog album. The three guitarists play extremely well, and these performances are very good and slightly different from their studio counterparts, but not better than them.

Short Tales Of The Black Forrest, Mediterranean Sundance and the Fantasia Suite are all excellent compositions taken from Al Di Meola's three first solo albums. The performances here are all very competent and lively, but I much prefer the studio versions of all of these numbers. It is also the case that these pieces are much more interesting within the context of the electric and more progressive songs of those albums. The two tracks that I had not heard before, Frevo Rasgado and Guardian Angel are nice too, but certainly not up to par with the other three.

Friday Night In San Francisco is a very good acoustic guitar album that I enjoy a lot when I'm in the right mood for it. However, I can only recommend this album to fans of Al Di Meola and the other two guitarists. For the average Prog fan I recommend instead that you get the three albums, Land Of Midnight Sun, Elegant Gypsy and Casino. On these three studio albums you will find better versions of these numbers embedded in a much more progressive and exciting setting. Therefore only two (and a half) stars from me.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars I'm not going to say too much about this live album as it is a rather popular one. This is an all acoustic album recorded in San Fransisco in December of 1980, years before MTV came out with their "Unplugged" series. I don't think any act has topped this when it comes to live acoustic music.

McLaughlin, Di Meola and De Lucia are all virtuoso's in their own rights, and putting them together does actually work which is why this became so popular. As i've said emphatically before I really detest the idea of no electric instruments, but having no bass, drums or keyboards really does make this recording pretty one dimensional in my opinion. This is all a matter of taste of course. There are many great moments here, but for me I can't offer up that fourth star. The crowd that was there that night would definitely disagree with me.

Review by BrufordFreak
5 stars From a tour that I witnessed one such glorious concert, comes this solid recording of some of the great trios and duets that this troupe did for a couple of years in the early 80s. I just remember as an audience member who had seen all live of the artists in different bands and formats before being mesmerized by the contrasts in styles and personalities: John McLaughlin with his effusive joy and effortless ease of expression, Al Di with his technical flare and Paco with his Flamenco finger style flashing and flourishing all over the fretboard. I remember being by far most impressed with McLaughlin--he seemed so much more comfortable with so many styles and genres; Al seemed like he was working so hard to impress (to keep up), and Paco was wonderful but not in the same cosmos as the Mahavishnu. The setlist for the show I attended was slightly different and, of course, more expanded. The Al Di songs were the most familiar to me--especially the timeless classic duet that Al and Paco performed on Mediterranean Sundance--and I remember the Chick Corea song being a pleasant surprise (and one of my favorites--I am a huge fan of Chick's song compositions and melodies.) The recording was very good for the time and for the subject (live recordings never seem to please me and live recordings of acoustic instruments is even more suspect) and the song choices certainly captured the essence of a fabulous experience of live music--a collaboration that was ingenious from a promotional standpoint and one that proved to be quite magical in person, as well.
Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The genesis of the Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin & Paco De Luci­a trio finds its seeds at The Guitar Trio formed by jazz guitarist Larry Coryell in 1979,including Mahavishnu Orchestra mastermind John McLaughlin and flamenco guitarist Paco De Lucia.The Guitar Trio toured in Europe and recorded the ''Meeting of the spirits'' video in London,but soon Corryel was replaced by Return to Forever guitarist Al Di Meola due to his drug addiction.As with the original Guitar Trio Di Meola,McLaughlin and De Lucia toured extensively and recorded their live performance ''Friday Night in San Francisco'' at the Warfield Theatre on 5 December 1980.

The album is a great guide to all guitar students around the world,offering a beautiful mix of Flamenco and Jazz in an unplugged performance.The compositions are semi-structured alternating between smooth interplays,long solos and flamenco-tinged grooves.Technically speaking the album is on the highest level with the three virtuosos delivering the best out of their armour,sometimes on gentle passages,others on intensive and dramatic improvisation.Good thing is that the total absence of any other instrument will not affect the richness of the sound.On the other hand what is really missing from this album ,in my opinion,is the optical view.A video footage would be trully a better release and would easily capture all the atmosphere of this creative night in all its spectrum.The sound alone is a good document,but lacks in depth of an atmospheric view.

I wouldn't call this album essential.''Friday Night in San Francisco'' is a must-have for all the young guitar wannabee-heros and a good addition for anyone searching for a relaxed flamenco-based musicianship in a specific mood.Still recommended.

Review by VianaProghead
5 stars Review Nº 215

Al Di Meola is an American guitarist which is better known because, in 1974, he joined the Chick Corea's band, Return To Forever and played with the band until its dissolution, in 1976. John McLaughlin is a British guitarist which is better known because, in 1971, he formed The Mahavishnu Orchestra, a band very well respected throughout the world due to their good and complex fusion of jazz, rock and Indian music. Paco de Lucia is a Spanish flamenco guitarist and classical guitarist which is better known and recognized, probably because he was the best flamenco guitarist ever.

"Friday Night In San Francisco" is a live album of the fantastic trio of guitarists, Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia and it was recorded at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco, in 5 December 1980 and was released in 1981.

We can say that it was a historic occasion. The appearance of John McLaughlin, Al DiMeola, and Paco DeLucia at San Francisco's Warfield Theatre in one Friday night in 1981 was a musical event that could be compared to the Benny Goodman Band's performance at Carnegie Hall in 1938. The Guitar Trio did for the acoustic guitar what Goodman had done for jazz. As we lnow, the acoustic guitar had gone commercially in those years, already. In 1979 and 1980, John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia had actually toured Europe with Larry Coryell. John McLaughlin tried to release a recording of this group but Columbia would have none of it, claiming Coryell wasn't a big enough name. Coryell had some personal problems at the time that did not help either. When the time came to tour America, Al DiMeola stepped in. His presence suddenly made the trio commercial. Anyway, "Friday Night In San Francisco" was the final result of it.

"Friday Night In San Francisco" has five tracks. Four of them were recorded live and one was recorded in studio. The first track consists of two songs, "Mediterranean Sundance" written by Al Di Meola and that appeared for the first time on his fantastic second studio album "Elegant Gypsy" and "Rio Ancho" written by Paco de Lucia. Both songs are performed as one by Paco de Lucia on the left channel and Al Di Meola on the right channel. This is an extraordinary song superiorly performed live by these two great guitar artists. It's hard to describe how great this track is. It consists on a fabulous guitar acoustic duel by this duet with about 11 minutes without lowering the musical rhythm and the speed of play. This is really an amazing piece of music and just because of that we should buy this album. It's my favourite track on the album and it's also the best way to open this amazing album. The second track "Short Tales Of The Black Forest" written by Chick Corea is performed on the left channel by John McLaughlin and on the right channel by Al Di Meola. This is a more subtle and quiet song also very well performed with good and great changes because suddenly is quiet and suddenly is faster. It has also a fantastic moment when the Pink Panther's theme makes an appearance and suddenly they change to a blues. This is absolutely a delightful song. The third track "Frevo Rasgado" written by Egberto Gismonti is performed on the left channel by John McLaughlin and on the right channel by Paco de Lucia. This is another fantastic track with perfect harmony and precious dialogues between the acoustic guitars of both artists. However, despite the fantastic live performance, this is probably my less favourite track on the album. The fourth track "Fantasia Suite" written by Al Di Meola, is the only live track with the guitar trio and is performed on the left channel by Paco de Lucia, on the middle channel by John McLaughlin and on the right channel by Al Di Meola. It's another fantastic and memorable live performance on this album, practically at the same level of the first track. This is a very beautiful song fantastically live performed by the trio with great musical rhythm and high speed of the music. It's simply a fantastic and truly amazing piece of music. This is my second favourite track on the album. The fifth and last track "Guardian Angel" written by John McLaughlin, is performed on the left channel by Paco de Lucia, on the middle channel by John McLaughlin and on the right channel by Al Di Meola. It's the only studio track on the album. This is the smallest track on the album but it's also a track with the same quality of the others played live. Here we can hear the different nuances between the three acoustic guitars even if they only combine the same kind of rhythm of music.

Conclusion: I own a vinyl copy of this album since it was released. "Friday Night In San Francisco" is a fantastic album and we may say that for those who don't know this trio of great artists very well, it's one of the best entries in all of these three guitarists' fine discographies. This is really one of the greatest guitar masterpieces in any kind of music. I can say that I agree with most of my colleagues that this isn't truly a progressive rock album. This is more a flamenco and jazz oriented album, than rock and progressive music. However, and although I can understand their point of view, not to rating this album with 5 stars, I don't agree with them. Why? Because this album is so fantastic and essential for everybody, that I can't rating it with less than 5 stars. This is a true masterpiece in any genre and type of music, really.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

4 stars An inspiring live performance in 1981 by three great guitarists, that every guitar lover must hear. The late Paco de Lucia is one of my all-time favorite guitarists. Fast, virtuosic, passionate, and innovative he was, and so open minded to blend the art of flamenco with other genre (like his col ... (read more)

Report this review (#2434198) | Posted by Mark-P | Saturday, August 1, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A legendary album and the one that many acoustic guitar afficionados look up to! All three players are inspired, at the top of their playing and the mood gets gradually hotter as all three experts appear on stage simultaneously. There are no other instruments other than acoustic guitars so tha ... (read more)

Report this review (#2118947) | Posted by sgtpepper | Thursday, January 17, 2019 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Full article first published at blogcritics. org Live albums are such fragile things, aren't they? I mean, under the performer's swagger, the stacks of Marshalls, and even the sometimes egregious overdubbing to mask imperfections and gaffes, very often one is left with inferior product, or at ... (read more)

Report this review (#399478) | Posted by The Dark Elf | Saturday, February 12, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars If you want non-stop speed that pumps you full of adrenaline but drowns out most nuances then this is the one. The track that gets most people to buy this album is the first one where Al outdoes even his own fastest playing and takes it to a level of blur that's, frankly, astounding. However, ... (read more)

Report this review (#242580) | Posted by fant0mas | Saturday, October 3, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is one of those magical albums where everything just falls in place and the whole is more than the sum of its parts. It's not flawless, I'll admit that, but it's one of the best live albums I've ever heard. The interplay between Di Meola, DeLucia and McLaughlin is unearthly, not to even t ... (read more)

Report this review (#229889) | Posted by nikow | Tuesday, August 4, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars If you enjoy loads and loads of accoustic guitars, than this is the album to get. A fabulous mixture of Spanish Flamengo, jazz, some blues, and other styles. The interplay between the players is so good that despite the technicality of their music the soul (which is the core of all music) of the ... (read more)

Report this review (#163540) | Posted by tuxon | Sunday, March 9, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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