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Weather Report - Sweetnighter CD (album) cover


Weather Report


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.75 | 144 ratings

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3 stars About a year ago, before I owned Sweetnight for myself I had a fortunate encounter in my friend's basement. Sadly no girls were involved, but I digress. While raiding my friend's dad's rather extensive record collection I found his copy of Sweetnighter. So I heard it in its entirety for the very first time on vinyl. It was a very cool experience. I would especially recommend it for an album like this which is a little rough around the edges to begin with.

The layout of the tracks on Sweetnighter reminds me of Heavy Weather. The album stars strong and upbeat, but from there it's anyone's guess. The next song could be swinging or coma inducing, there's no way to tell. That is something which really bothers me. There is a time and a place for those "mood" tracks, but when I listen to fusion I'm looking to feel alive. That's why even though I've yet to encounter a 5 star album from Weather Report I still count them among my most listened to bands. The stuff that I like gets me going every time.

Stuff like Boogie Woogie Waltz. It's the whole reason I decided to buy the whole album even after finding it below expectations. It is the most engaging 13+ minute track this side of the topographic oceans. It starts with an unassuming percussion line which is promptly interrupted by a noisy rich brass section. The band doesn't give it all up in one go though. The horns are dialled back almost immediately and a long slow build up commences. Joe easily takes the lead on his electric piano, but there are plenty of interjections from the whole crew along the way. Boogie Woogie Waltz hits its peak when Joe and the horns team up for the song's main theme. This song is at one funky and highly creative. There's little more I can ask of from Weather Report.

Unfortunately, there is little more delivered in my opinion. The Waltz is a very fresh and lively track, but the tone of the album turns towards what you might expect from an album called Sweet"NIGHT"er. The next track is Manolete a slippery minor key piece which is dominated by a sour sounding sax. It has a few decent moments when the pace quickens, but these moments are all too brief. From Manolete, the band takes the energy level down even a level further. Adios is more of a lullaby. It is very gentle all the way through; it isn't without its own brief glimmers but nothing truly remarkable.

Once we arrive at side B there is another abrupt shift in the energy level. 125th Street Congress is a lot closer to the excitement of the Waltz. I would love you it to go all the way, but it stays comfortable and listenable where it is. The sax is a bit irritating, but that isn't enough to take away from the strengths of this piece. The street sound is encapsulated by the rhythm section. The bass is sly expressive, while the percussion sounds like it might actually be a garbage can. It's a great track to mellow to without the risk of losing your attention or being put to sleep.

History repeats itself on Will. We lose the liveliness of the street and instead of opt for a slow slightly romantic excursion. There isn't much to it. The back bone are maracas and light percussion the rest sort of slides in and out whenever it feels like it. I like it more than either Manolete or Adios, but it isn't a show stopper.

The final track on the album is Non-Stop home. This is the only short track with any bit of life in it. It's sound is frantic a little bit haunted. Joe makes his piano do some very strange things, but for the most part this is a drum showcase. The beat is reliable and toe tapping and the few times Herschel Dwellingham is allowed to go off the reservation he does not disappoint. I would say it should have been the basis for a much more grandiose track than the band opted for.

On the whole, Sweetnighter is middling. Only three of the tracks really manage to keep my attention. Of them, only Boogie Woogie Waltz is truly memorable. I am going to give the album a three, but it for the most part an unenthusiastic one. I would buy it again, but it would still really just be for the Waltz. For those of you looking to get into Weather Report, I recommend you head straight for Black Market.

R-A-N-M-A | 3/5 |


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