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)

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Pat Metheny (electric guitar, synclavier guitar), David Bowie (vocals), Lyle Mays (piano, synthesizers),

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

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  • 1 Dave Mo // Feb 16, 2009 at 08:37 PM
    You're right, it could have been so much better. I think it's a fine song, but the production is 80's all over: stiff and glossy, like it was dunked in hair gel. I'd love to have heard it with a jazz drummer. Bowie's got the rhythmic sophistication to swing with a jazz combo.