Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pat Metheny Group: Last Train Home

Eight more posts are planned, but if you would like to see it continue, register your feelings at the survey found at http://tinyurl.com/8juv863.

One of my favorite guitarists is Pat Metheny and I became aware of him back when I immersed myself in jazz music during the 1970s. I was particular fond of the albums that were released on Manfred Eicher’s German based ECM Records label.

In fact, I purchased albums in the mid ‘70s simply because of the strength of the label - having never heard the artist and Pat Metheny's recordings were of that number. Outside of a few avant-garde records from the early seventies that I didn’t like, the later recordings were masterpieces and I frequently featured my personal ECM catalog on my Wednesday night jazz show on WKCC.

Pat Metheny was one of those acts and time came for the Pat Metheny Group to move to a label with greater marketing and distribution. In 1987, Metheny moved to Geffen Records which had great success since David Geffen founded the label in 1980. Geffen had also founded Asylum Records in 1970, which was sold to Warner Communications in 1972.

“Still Life (Talking)” was the Pat Metheny Group’s first album with Geffen and it features the song “Last Train Home.” I could have used this song for TV Thursday feature as the song is frequently heard on the Weather Channel and was used by the Lakeland, Florida based Publix supermarket chain as background music for a Christmas commercial. The commercial ran from 1987 to 1996.

The brush work on the snare by drummer Paul Wertico and driving acoustic bass of Steve Rodby gives the illusion that you are actually riding the rails. Lyle Mays’ keyboards provide the necessary piano fills, strings and occasional train sound effects.

Although the instrument is not credited, Pat Metheny used a Coral electric sitar. He did make a modification to the instrument as it does not have the original Danelectro pickups – it appears that he is using Stratocaster pickups as replacements. I am not sure what he is processing the instrument through, but it gives it a nice sound.

During the bridge, Mark Ledford, David Blamires, and Armando Marçal provide vocals. Marçal is also the percussionist for the band. It’s a great tune that always brings a smile to my face. It exudes happiness.

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