Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Al Di Meola Elegant Gypsy (1977)

Al Di Meola - Elegant GypsyFrom

Review The Hendrix of Jazz. This is what I have heard people call Al Di Meola. I never had to question why especially after hearing this album. I can name a ton of guitar players with great albums but I would prefer to listen to this album over all of those any second of any day.

This is coming from somebody who loves only sophisticated guitar work and cant stand any of that 4 chord crap that passes off for music today. I’m a huge fan of John Mclaughlin, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Page, Richie Blackmore, Rick Emmett, George Benson, Alex Lifeson, Buddy Guy, David Gilmour, Robert Fripp, an many others. But none of those dudes can brag about having a guitar album like this one from Al Di Meola.

“Flight to Rio” Is just as important a track for Jan Hammer as for Al di Meola. Hammers contributions to this album are quite big but on this track his contributions are nothing short of enormous and help set the mood for the album.

“Midnight Tango” continues the electric Latino guitar style of track 1 before the album turns a bit more acoustic.

“Mediterranean Sundance” is an acoustic Latin Fusion number where Paco de Lucia comes in and plays twin lead with Al di Meola. This is one of those tracks that blew me away the most the first time I heard it. Years before they would both join with Mahavishnu John McLaughlin to record one of the most awesome acoustic records ever.

“Race with Devil on Spanish Highway” is an incredibly intense going back to electric driven track with di Meolas band mate Lenny White wrecking some serious havoc on drums. Absolutely an underrated and gifted drummer. Anthony Jackson, a bass player I have not heard much of really blasts his bass guitar on this one causing me to want to research more albums he might play on.

“Lady of Rome, Sister of Brazil” despite being really short is the most beautiful track on the album.

“Elegant Gypsy Suite” is the highlight and the reason why the album had to be named after the title track! This is the only way a great album should end. One of the greatest guitar showcases of all time.

This is it! The ultimate guitar album. I cant say why in words it just is. And it took only one listen to believe it. You wont understand until you listen to it also like I was recommended to. Than you will believe!!!

Review I’m quite new to Al Di Meola, but I’m a seasoned instrumental guitar fan. I had read on Wikipedia that Petrucci was self taught by trying to emulate the sounds of various guitarists like Malmsteen, Holdsworth and Di Meola. I figured, Holdsworth and Malmsteen are pretty big names, so to throw Di Meola in must mean something, because Petrucci after all is… well, we all know what he is capable of. I looked on for Di Meola albums, and Elegant Gypsy looked to the best, based solely on reviews, so I checked it out.

This CD is so incredibly monstrous, that words have a hard describing all the features it encapsulates. Di Meolas finely honed technical ability coupled with interesting tunes and beats make for a superb album. I find that this album sounds quite unlike any other instrumental guitar CD I have ever heard.

This CD was unleashed in 1976, before massively technical playing was popularized by Yngwie. This is one of the reasons I find Di Meola so special. I have never been more impressed with a 30 year old album that sounds like it could have been released just yesterday. It doesn’t have the outdated 80’s sound that neoclassical shred has picked up.

Im not sure whether to call Di Meola a shred guitarist, I don’t really think he is. He obviously has the ability to shred with the best of them, but he tames it and keeps it under control (Yes, that’s a good thing).

Now for the actual songs on the album. There are two that really stand out in my mind. Like everybody else, Race with Devil on Spanish Highway, is a superb demonstration of Di Meola’s primo technical astuteness coupled with some awe-inspiring song writing. The song just sounds really good, any way you look at it.

The other song which I am also very fond of is Mediterranean Sundance. It gives me goose bumps. It showcases the full spectrum of what the acoustic is capable of. Especially since there are two of them, the song is like a double whammy. Supposedly it’s Di Meola on the right channel, and Paco de Lucia on the left, that play together with such harmony and beauty, the song is not easily overlooked.

These are the two songs that stand out in my mind, but it is not to say that the other songs not equally as impressive, because they are.

This CD is very unique, and I’m happy I picked it up. Now I understand why Petrucci threw Di Meola in that sentence.


April 28, 2013 - Posted by | Al Di Meola Elegant Gypsy |

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