Remember Shakti :: Lotus Feet
One of my favourite pieces of music in any genre: Lotus Feet. Remember Shakti features renowned guitarist John McLaughlin, a principle and leading member of the legendary and influential fusion ensemble, The Mahavishnu Orchestra as well as the band to which the formation of this one is loving a tribute, Shakti. Here, South Asian intruments, scales and themes fuse with McLaughlin’s gentle acoustic guitar. Absolutely lovely. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Brand-X :: Morrocan Roll :: Disco Suicide (1977)
My rock-n-roll guru, Steve, and I consider Morrocan Roll one of the finest, and probably most unsung albums in the genre. Released the same year as Passport’s Iguacu, and Di Meola’s Elegant Gypsy, it features compositionally deep and broad arrangements of multi-layered themes. The synth is used sparingly and is occasionally a tad thin, but it appears within such a dense sonic space that its sound generally becomes one thread in a timbral tapestry, rather than a disturbing note unto itself.
Disco Suicide has both girth and length, but the the rhythm section, featuring Morris Pert (percussion), Phil Collins (yes, that Phil Collins) and Percy Jones (bass), keeps the arrangement moving along briskly, Meanwhile, the melodious themes developed by guitarist John Goodsall and keyboardist Robin Lumley take you on a jaunty tour of North Africa, like riding the train to Marrakesh.
Return to Forever :: Romantic Warrior :: The Romantic Warrior (1976)
OK. So, you’re going to have to stick with this one a bit, because the keyboard doesn’t introduce the main theme until 2:45. Before you get there, guitar, keys, and a bowed standup bass (isn’t that so much more lovely a timbre than a synthetic sawtooth wave?) take a somewhat random meander through sonic space. However, with the theme established, the band launches into some tasty jazz, with just one thankfully brief interruption by a weak synth timbre. The guitar you may recognise as Di Meola. On bass is Stanley Clarke and Chick Corea runs the keyboards, mostly an electric piano, I believe.
Pat Metheny :: Offramp :: Are You Going With Me? (1982)
Pat Metheny is a bit more difficult to pin a genre on. His most popular music could easily find itself in the so-called smooth jazz category, while two of my favourite albums feature lyrical guitar work with no other instrumental accompaniment — technically, not fusion at all. However, this number certainly belongs in this post. Listen for the synthetic horns. Metheny is playing them on his guitar, connected to a computer/synthesizer by one of those old ribbon cables.
Check the release date again. Yeah, 1982. That was the year the Commodore 64 went on sale. To say the least, Metheny was an early adopter of using computers to digitally process electric guitar ouput.
So…do you like any of these? Do you love at least one? Or, do you hate them all? Let me know, ‘kay? (I’d go all in on Lotus Feet as a winner <smile> )