Al di Meola's fifth of seven fusion albums as a leader for Columbia is a typically fiery effort, with di Meola joined by keyboardist Jan Hammer, electric bassist Anthony Jackson, drummer Steve Gadd, percussionist Mingo Lewis, and guest spots for flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía ("Passion, Grace & Fire") and keyboardist Philippe Saisse. This lesser-known effort is easily recommended to fans of rock-ish jazz guitar.
Guitarist Al DiMeola's second record as a leader is generally an explosive affair, although it does have a fair amount of variety. With Jan Hammer or Barry Miles on keyboards, electric bassist Anthony Jackson, drummer Lenny White (Steve Gadd takes his place on the "Elegant Gypsy Suite" ), and percussionist Mingo Lewis on most of the selections, DiMeola shows off his speedy and rockish fusion style. He was still a member of Return to Forever at the time and was a stronger guitarist than composer, but DiMeola did put a lot of thought into this music. The brief "Lady of Rome, Sister of Brazil" (an acoustic guitar solo) and "Mediterranean Sundance" (an acoustic duet with fellow guitarist Paco de Lucia) hints at DiMeola's future directions. A near classic in the fusion vein.
Larry Ehrlich was at end of a long day in a studio in Bristol, VA. Carter and Ralph Stanley as well as Ralph Mayo and Curley Lambert entered the studio in front of one microphone, and Ehrlich, after seeing them play hog callings, a couple of radio shows, and a barn dance, asked the band to sing some of the traditional songs they had been recording for the past 16 years. The results, completely unearthed until now, are no less than stunning. This is the Stanleys as listeners have never heard them: laid-back, relaxed, and full of recollection and goodwill, singing and playing songs as familiar to them as their upbringing.
Appaloosa’s sole album is a textbook case of baroque folk, which was a term “en vogue” in the late 60’s, and described a folk rock laced with symphonic classical music; and with Al Kooper’s connection (both musical and production-wise) it became one of those influential albums, even if it only stayed four weeks in the US billboard, peaking at 128. Named after the horses and graced with a sober group picture for artwork, the album epitomizes a bit the Boston folk-rock scene, which saw Earth Opera (and its continuation Sea Train) and James Taylor emerge from also. The baroque folk genre can be applied to the Beatles’ Eleanor Rogby as well as the Rolling Stone’s Ruby Tuesday as well to artistes like Nick Drake, Donova, Tim Buckley and John Martyn. All of the 11 tracks are written by singer-guitarist John Parker Compton, whose songwriting evokes Joni Mitchell and later singer- songwriters in the 15 years surrounding this album’s release.
Where Dylan’s first Greatest Hits took its title literally, Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 is a greatest-hits album only in the loosest sense of the term. While the double album does contain several genuine hits — “Lay Lady Lay,” “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You,” the non-LP “Watching the River Flow” — it is largely comprised of album tracks that became classics, either through Dylan’s own version or through covers.
Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits remains one of the most popular and enduring best-of collections by any rock band, selling nearly ten million copies in the U.S. alone since its release. But when it was issued in 1980, the band had just about reached its nadir. With original guitarist Joe Perry gone (and Brad Whitford soon to follow), Aerosmith had turned into a directionless, time-consuming ghost of its former self.
If you're an air guitarist, Al di Meola has likely been your man since his days as an unknown 21-year-old addition to Chick Corea's Return to Forever in the mid-'70s. Over the years since leaving RTF, he has been afforded the opportunity to record regularly, and this CD represents a good overview of his discography, primarily for the Columbia family of labels. His early dates Land of the Midnight Sun, Elegant Gypsy, and Casino are well represented, in addition to his collaborations with Jan Hammer on Tour de Force: Live. His middle-period efforts are not all that vital, as repeat ideas and predictable flash lost their original value even to the staunchest fans, therefore making this collection less than essential.