Weather Report: Mr. Gone

Scores of jazz and fusion fans hated this album. Down Beat gave it one lonely star. Even many Weather Report fans despised it. At best, Mr. Gone was called an experiment that did not work. Zawinul later acknowledged that mostly it was him tinkering with his gadgets in the studio trying to get new sounds.

At the time, I heard the title cut on the radio and dug it enough to get the album, the rest of which sucked. But over the years, every once in a while, I would pull out the record, now a CD, and listen to that one track. Electronic sequencing was not yet available, but Zawinul made impressive use of the primitive tools of his day. After an initial foray into ambient noise, Zawinul kicks in with the Oberheim Bass. The infectious bassline and accompanying synthesized elements sound like a robotic marching band. I don't mean a bunch of stiff marchers. I mean actual robots marching. The melody is hidden in a sinister groove. The tune becomes hypnotic. Improvisation seems barely existent. Williams uses his brushes on cymbals to add a little color. Despite the listed credits, Wayne Shorter and Jaco Pastorius cannot be heard. This is really Joe Zawinul in charge. He is the ultimate drum major.

For this review, I re-listened to the album in its entirety. I found myself quite liking it. It is actually very creative. Sure, a vocal or two could be dropped. But Mr. Gone no longer sucks. The music hasn't changed. I have. Maybe you have, too.

February 16, 2008 · 5 comments


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