Pat Metheny Group (with David Bowie): This Is Not America
This Is Not America
Pat Metheny Group
The Falcon And The Snowman (Original Movie Soundtrack SV-17150)
Pedro Aznar (voice), Steve Rodby (bass), Paul Wertico (drums, percussion).
Composed by Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays & David Bowie.
Recorded: London, September 1984
Rating: 85/100 (learn more)
Pat Metheny's discography is so full of contradictions that you'd swear he relishes collocating crossover jazz with advanced, impenetrable music. Just a year after the semi-Ornette Coleman tribute Rejoicing and a year before the Ornette Coleman collaboration Song X, Metheny and his Group had a charted single (#32 USA, #14 UK) that boasted David Bowie's vocals.
The only track with lyrics, "This Is Not America" is the centerpiece of PMG's The Falcon And The Snowman soundtrack. Metheny's and Mays's ethereal, streamlined songcraft, which would become more prominent a couple of years later, provides the vehicle for Bowie's earnest singing. Both music and lyrics convey the somber mood of espionage and betrayal depicted in the movie.
That said, this track doesn't present PMG at anywhere near its best; they are improvisers, yet there's no improvising here. The drums, nominally credited to Paul Wertico, sound programmed, and there's a lot of '80s sheen in the production. Bowie himself has had plenty of more memorable moments than this one.
"This Is Not America" isn't a bad song, but as a collaboration between colossal talents, it could have been much better.
Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron