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Al Di Meola - Land Of The Midnight Sun CD (album) cover

LAND OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN

Al Di Meola

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.95 | 154 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars After his stint with Chic Corea in Return To Forever reached its natural evolutionary conclusion, AL DI MEOLA decided the band had reached its apex and took off for a promising solo career at the age of 22. On his debut album LAND OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN that came out the same year as "Romantic Warrior" he really got to show his stuff. Whereas in the Return To Forever role he was limited to the whims of band leader Chic Corea, on this debut he shines in full solo spender and displays his knack for not only playing guitar at the speed of light making him one of the few 70s shredders, but also illuminated his talents in creating long drawn out multi-part compositions as heard on the astounding three part epic "Suite Golden Dawn."

While this is a AL DI MEOLA album through and through, he did have a little help with his friends from Return To Forever as well as other musical maestros with each contributing on different tracks, only this time HE was the band leader and got to lead the way. The album starts off with the Santana-esque "The Wizard" which is a percussive laden drum frenzy which introduces the world to DI MEOLA's unique world of jazz-fusion with his gypsy ethnic flair that shows his blossoming interest in Latin rhythms, Mediterranean cultures and flamenco. While the second title track is a nine minute plus jazz-fusion behemoth that is pretty damned good and displays some veritable guitar maestrohood, it is without a doubt side two of the original vinyl release which constitutes the just shy of ten minute "Suite Golden Dawn" and the closing "Short Tales Of The Black Forest" that are the true masterpieces of this debut release.

On these last two tracks we get some of the most versatile and beautifully constructed guitar music that emerged from the 70s. "Suite Golden Dawn" starts off with that frenetic "Heart Of The Sunrise" feel from Yes and makes me think of what Yes would have sounded like had they gone in the full-on jazz-fusion direction. The track then meanders into soft and loud passages that alternate in perfect harmony until its end. There are also parts that bring the excellent "Fire Garden Suite" by Steve Vai to mind which shows how influential DI MEOLA's technical prowess and compositional skills would be so influential for guitar virtuosos that followed. The finale "Short Tales Of The Black Forest" sounds like a mini Return To Forever reunion with Chic Corea providing both piano and marimba and easily sounds like it could have been slipped on to the "Romantic Warrior" album and no one would notice. While the rest of the album doesn't quite live up to the brilliance of the second half of the album, the first is quite the entertaining affair save the rather ho hum attempt at a J.S. Bach sonata in the form of "Sarabande" but at 1:20 hardly the focus of the album. Overall, great debut that would springboard DI MEOLA into greater heights.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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