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Pat Metheny - Secret Story CD (album) cover

SECRET STORY

Pat Metheny

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.22 | 134 ratings

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BrufordFreak
5 stars My all-time favorite of many favorite Pat Metheny/Pat Metheny Group albums, this album is also one of the two that, IMO, most qualify for the progressive rock label. With some of the most effective orchestral arrangements I've ever heard in the rock idiom, accompanied by one of Pat's more diverse song lists, this album, pure and simply, has it all: towering solos, acoustic gems, sing-a-long-at-the-top-of-your-lungs, world/ethnic sounds, great guest performances (Charlie Haden, Nana Vasconcelos, Will Lee, Danny Gottlieb, Armando Marçal, Mark Ledford, Steve Ferrone, Sunny Merendino, Gil Goldstein, Akiko Yano, Andy Findon, and two songs with jazz's most acclaimed harmonica player, Toots Thielemans along, of course, with his long-time mainstays, some of the finest musicians at their specific instruments in the world: Paul Wertico on drums, Steve Rodby on bass, and Lyle Mays on keyboards) and many heart- and gut-wrenching soli and melody lines, both upbeat and slow.

1. "Above the Treetops" (9/10) begins with a Cambodian choir singing a traditional hymn while accompanied by the London Orchestra and some percussion and bass from Nana V. and Charlie H., respectively. Eventually Pat voices some of his appreciation with his beautiful acoustic guitar play.

2. "Facing West" (7/10) feels like an older 'Group' song, with familiar structures and sounds--not unlike anything from their 8 recordings from the 1980s. Good song but nothing new or innovative.

3. "Cathedral in a Suitcase" (9/10) is most interesting for its lack of drums and Minimalist background structure with orchestral accompaniment. A song that unfolds slowly and with many subtleties and surprises (like the playground voices in the third minute joined by a wailing electric guitar screaming in the far background followed and interrupted by an orchestral crescendo). Very cool song for those who like to listen, really listen.

4. "Finding and Believing" (8/10) is a three-part song that starts with a weave of some very unusual percussive sounds before steady rhythm section backbeat establishes itself so that some very tribal singing/screaming and chanting can take the lead (credited to and supposedly by New Yorker, white man, Mark Ledford). Part 2 begins at the 3:48 mark with some hand percussives continuing to hold the beat while Jeremy Lubbock's orchestra plays around as if on a movie soundtrack or 1970s jazz fusion interlude. At 6:48 Pat's piano ushers in the rest of the jazz combo and more though very different African-sounding tribal vocals/chants. At 8:15 Pat's smooth electric guitar takes over to play out in a trademark solo over the upbeat, beautiful rhythm structure. Awesome world music.

5. "The Longest Summer" (10/10) begins with Pat on gentle piano and Steve Rodby playing his cool bass. At 1:26 everything shifts into one of the coolest beackbeats over which Pat delivers one heck of an emotional guitar solo with one of my favorite solo instrumental sounds in all of musica guitar synthesizer that sounds much like a 'piccolo trumpet,' if there was such a thing. Then, at 3:15, everything quiets back down to piano and orchestra, repeating much of the songs first part before falling back into the amazing rhythm and 'piccolo trumpet' soloing at the 5:12 markthis time with wonderful augmentation by the London Orchestra till fade. Awesome song!

6. "Sunlight" (7/10) is a very light-hearted, upbeat song--providing quite a break from emotional journey of the last two or three songs. Nothing really new or Earth-shattering; very melodic and straightforward--almost Burt Bacharach-like.

7. "Rain River" (7/10) brings us back into the emotional heaviness of the third world with many ethnic-sounding instruments and sounds, lots of stress on the percussion play. Smooth/Wes Montgomery guitar soloing begins around the 2:45 mark.

8. "Always and Forever" (9/10) is a mellow, deeply reflective/introspective song in which Pat's carefully chosen lead guitar notes are accompanied mostly by a kind of Claus Ogerman-type of instrument arrangement using double bass, brushed drums & orchestra. Very beautiful and mellow.

9. "See the World" (8/10) is not unlike "Sunlight" in its brightness but is much more complex in terms of its arrangement and time signatures. This is jazz. I love the horns, chorded piano, and Paul Wertico's drumming (cymbol play) is, as always, virtuosic. This song, again, has a lot in common with more of the standard 'Group' sounds and arrangements--and complexity--and stands up as as beautiful a song as 'the Group' has ever done.

10. "As a Flower Blossoms" (7/10) is another song that seems to be borrowing from world/ethnic sounds and melody lines, but is really just a little piano/orchestra interlude before one of the album's showcase songs.

11. "Antonia" (9/10) begins with Pat's oft-used Synclavier accordian sound slowly introducing his themes and moods. Before long his melody line is mirrored and harmonized by other guitars and synths. I love the shift to finger-snappin tempo at the 2:54 mark, and the beautiful, emotional and powerful guitar solo that follows before the 4:20 slow down for a gorgeous ending. Beautiful song.

12. "The Truth Will Always Be" (11/10) is simply one of the best Post Rock/Math Rock progressive rock songs I've ever heard and, I often muse, perhaps the first of that sub-genre. IMHO, this is Metheny's finest hour as both a composer and a guitar soloist. The song builds and builds with Steve Ferrone's military drumming gathering strength, slowly moving to the foreground before it blasts us away with sounds on a par with Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture's cannon shots--all this to set up your goosebumps to be totally blown away by Pat's soaring, screaming, ripping, tearing, gut-wrenching 'piccolo trumpet' guitar soloing above the din! WOW! Who said "Comfortably Numb" or "Firth of Fifth" has the greatest guitar solo in history? I beg to differ! It's here! Check it out!

13. "Tell Her You Saw Me" (10/10). How do you follow the most gut-wrenching song of all time? With one of the most mellow, beautiful songs ever written/performed. Jeremy Lubbock and the London Orchestra perform a beautiful arrangement as Pat's feather-plucked electric guitar first mirrors and then barely squeaks his plaintive solo above the orchestra. Absolutely breathtaking! And heart-wrenching.

14. "Not to Be Forgotten (Our Final Hour)" (10/10) is an amazingly gorgeous song performed solely by the London Orchestra. On a par with anything Enrico Morricone or Hans Zimmer has ever done. Could be longer. I'd listen to a whole album of just this. Gorgeous.

This album is as much of a true masterpiece as any I have ever reviewed. And anyone who seems to want to deny Pat credit for his guitar skills ought to have his ears examined: there are few if any guitarists out there who can command the speed, dexterity, and express such emotion with such amazing melody, complexity of music, and length as Pat Metheny. He is a guitar god. One of the all-time greats. If you have any doubts please watch any of his live videos or better yet, see him in concert! He only does 200 concerts and a world tour every year. See him now. Did I mention that hes also a marathon runner? Makes his music and stamina that much better. Have I made my point?

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |

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