Monday, 21 October 2013

The Archivist - Pat Metheny Group - Pat Metheny Group

Back in the 70s, music radio fell into three categories. Pop (Radio 1 & Commercial Radio), Rock/Indie/New Wave (John Peel), Classic Rock (Alan Freeman's Saturday Show). I listened to Peel, now and again but never missed Alan Freeman. But for the intelligentsia, there was a brilliant little programme tucked away on Radio 3 late on a Sunday evening called Sounds Interesting. It was  presented by music writer Derek Jewell and ran from 1972 - 79. On one of these programmes back in 1978, I heard a track from an album called Bright Size Life. It turned out to be by a young American guitar virtuoso called Pat Metheny.

 The music fans of the time used to vote in Polls in music magazines Sounds & Melody Maker, the best guitarist was always Jimmy Page/Steve Howe/Steve Hackett/Richie Blackmore.

From the first time I heard Pat Metheny, I always thought he blew these guys away. Now, I'm not a great lover of jazz but Pat was melodic, with superb musicians and absolutely pristine sound quality. So, I rushed out to get Bright Sized Life, only to find it was an import only. Pat had just released his second album, this time with a group, called simply Pat Metheny Group, which was available. So I bought this. What a revelation. I had always heard jazz as being improvised noise or the backing for some dodgy crooner. But this was brilliant. I immediately, being the saddo I am, worked out the record label was ECM, which stood for Edition of Contemporary Music, founded by Manfred Eicher. I immediately sent a letter off to Germany asking for more info. (No email or internet in those days). Fair play to them, they sent me a pile of information, with Biogs of their artists and some samplers. You don't get service that like these days.
The album is purely instrumental, glacial, joyous, uplifting, surprising, supremely executed and timeless.
So, this album started my lifelong love of Pat Metheny. He has released many albums over the years as a solo artist, with his group and in collaboration with other musicians. He is a real innovator and always pushes the boundaries of his music. Just for added authenticity, here are two videos of the Vinyl versions being played. Enjoy.


  1. Just brought this on your say so Nick. My entry point was 'Off Ramp'. My favourites are 'Letter From Home', 'Upojonie' (with Polish singer Anna Maria Jopek), 'Secret Story', but my favourite by a mile is 'Beyong the Missouri Sky' an album that he made with Double Bassist Charlie Haden. It's beautiful acoustic music. There are a couple of Morricone covers that will break your heart. I'm on my 3rd CD already...

  2. I've got all of those Trev. He also provided a lovely score for the movie A Map of the World. If you really want a challenge, try Song X on Spotify :) - how was Mr Gabriel by the way? Did he play In Your Eyes as I requested, LOL :)

  3. Gabriel was brilliant. He split the set into 3 sections:
    1: Low key, house lights on, some new stuff, intimate
    2: Full band playing a dynamic set
    3: 'So' in full, in the original order intended. Apparently vinyl can't take the fat bass notes as you get to the end of a side so the BIG sounding tracks always needed to be up front. So that's why the introspective doodles are always the last tracks! And I thought it was an artistic choice to leave 'em weeping...