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Pat Metheny - Pat Metheny Group: Letter From Home CD (album) cover


Pat Metheny


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.31 | 85 ratings

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2 stars By the end of the nineteen-eighties the Pat Metheny Group seemed to be selling out. Gone were the days of their visionary albums for ECM, while their most "progressive" epics (such as IMAGINARY DAY and THE WAY UP) lay far in the distance. LETTER FROM HOME sounds so cheap and cheesy at times, it actually makes me sick. I was playing the album in the car the other day, and our eldest daughter (who'll soon be eighteen) immediately said: 'This sounds just like the kind of muzak they play in Japanese supermarkets'. For once, she was right. Tunes like 'Every Summer Night' and 'Beat 70' are worse than middle-of-the-road, and if that weren't bad enough, Metheny usually has Lyle Mays accompanying the main melody on accordion, or Pedro Aznar belting out wordless vocals as if there's no tomorrow! I couldn't imagine Pat falling for this sort of "cheepnis" back in the 1970s, and I wonder what he thinks of it now. Well, it must have bought him a new house or two...

LETTER FROM HOME gets particularly terrible towards the end. 'Vidala' is a ballad sung by Pedro Aznar, sickeningly sweet and apparently based on "an ancient Indian folk melody" from Argentina. It's immediately followed by 'Slip Away', which offers the listener yet more soft-pop horrors. Strangely enough, throughout the album Pat's guitar solos (and Mays' solos on grand piano) are as endearing as ever. One or two of the pieces ('5-7-5' for example) still have the old lilt, and the album's production (with all sorts of keyboards providing smooth background textures) is, of course, immaculate. It's just such a shame that you've got to wade through a load of pap, just to reach a few treasures!

fuxi | 2/5 |


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