Al Di Meola Tour De Force: Live / Scenario (2-CD)
- Number of Discs: 2
- Released: November 15, 2011
- Originally Released: 2011
- Label: Bgo - Beat Goes On
Tracks on Disc 1:
- 1.Elegant Gypsy Suite
- 4.Egyptian Danza
- 5.Race with Devil on Spanish Highway
Tracks on Disc 2:
- 1.Mata Hari
- 2.African Night
- 3.Island Dreamer
- 7.Hypnotic Conviction
Personnel: Al Di Meola (guitar); Victor Godsey, Jan Hammer (keyboards); Steve Gadd (drums); Mingo Lewis (percussion).
Audio Remasterer: Andrew Thompson .
Liner Note Author: Charles Waring.
Recording information: Caribou Ranch, Nederland, CO (02/04/1982); Tower Theatre, Philadelphia, PA (02/04/1982).
Photographers: Darryl Pitt; David Kennedy .
The U.K.'s Beat Goes On imprint continues its Al di Meola two-fer reissues with this double set. Kudos to the label for not editing the music in order to cram both albums onto a single platter, especially since the combined 80-minute playing time is just a few minutes over the total disc time available. Also, the musical direction is radically different for both sets, making their division into two discs more logical. Tour De Force: Live closed the book on his early years with a rollicking, predominantly plugged-in show that found the guitarist in front of top-notch players who typically joined him in the studio but not on the road. The February 1982 show features heavyweights such as drummer Steve Gadd and bassist Anthony Jackson tearing through six tunes that clock in at a rather anemic 39 minutes. Surely there were other songs performed at the gig that could have been added as bonus tracks on this remastered reissue. But what's here is tight, tough, and energized with Gadd in especially crackling form and percussion master Mingo Lewis adding extra heft to the Spanish/Latin themes of "Elegant Gypsy Suite" and an intense, hypercharged romp through a seven-minute "Race with Devil on Spanish Highway." Having closed the book on this era of his career, di Meola changed course rather radically for 1983's Scenario. He joined with keyboardist Jan Hammer, the only holdover from the live album, to embrace synthesizers, and even attached one to his guitar in the form of the Roland Guitar Synthesizer. The sound wasn't exactly revolutionary in 1983, and sounds dated on its 2011 reissue. Still, the guitarist plays well, and some of the material, such as the title track, is top shelf. The guitar pyrotechnics that fans had come to expect were tamped down somewhat, and the programmed drums sound like something you might hear on a shopping mall keyboard. Even when Phil Collins joins on the cheesy MOR-ish "Island Dreamer," the result is limp. King Crimson bassist Tony Levin and drummer Bill Bruford guest on "Calliope," which seems like a great idea on paper but falls flat in execution. It's far from a bad album and surely has its moments, as on the closing "Scoundrel," where the techno elements mesh well, but it's an experiment that can be considered only partially successful, especially hearing it on this remastered reissue nearly 30 years after its inception. ~ Hal Horowitz
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