The Metal Files

My Life. My Music. Your Voyeurism.

Race With The Devil On Spanish Highway

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Right about the time that Riot released Privilege of Power (which I still love), I was reading the credits in the cassette’s liner notes. Remember cassettes? Anyhoo, I went to the mall record store and looked DiMeola up on their database B00000B4J1.09.LZZZZZZZand purchased Elegant Gyspy (on tape). At that time it was a name that I was unfamiliar with as I really wasn’t listening to any jazz/fusion at the time. Mahavishnu Orchestra was really the only band I was familiar with from that genre. I remember popping the tape in my car’s cassette player (1982 Pontiac Trans Am!) and just sitting in the parking lot with my mouth wide open. I was completely blown away. All I could think was “This dude is a badass! Holy shit. Listen to that drummer!”

I had a full time job with VDOT at the time but was also working a few hours a week at a local drum shop, helping the owner build his new store. I brought the tape in one evening and said, “What do you know about Lenny White?” He was already sitting behind a drum set and started playing some of the amazingly fast paradiddles and other licks from this album. Again…mouth wide open. Drew was a fantastic drummer.

I listened to this tape incessantly and even practiced drums to it…as much as my abilities let me anyway. I was no Lenny White.

It’s easily in my top 10-15 albums of all time. Al’s playing on this is so fluid. It’s jazz, it’s a little rock, it’s a little metal, it’s flamenco…it’s everything. The album flows so smoothly from beginning to end. I usually listen to it at least twice every time.

A few years ago (2006?), Patrick (Buzzard) and I got tickets to see DiMeola in downtown Norfolk. We were both pretty excited to see the show as we were both big fans. We parked near the venue a while before the show so we could grab some food and a beer or 2 prior to going in. We had some NY style pizza and a few beers and walked over to the theater. As we got closer I could see that something was taped to the door. “CANCELED” My heart sunk. What a total letdown. We were both pretty annoyed. Apparently Al’s drummer quit that day or something. Damn! So we ended up going back to our neighborhood and barhopped.

Last year it was announced that Return to Forever was reuniting and that their first 2 shows would be in Austin at the Paramount Theater. Doug Morrison and I scored 2nd row center seats on the balcony. $125ea and worth every penny. The view and the sound were perfect. You could hear Al’s footswitch when he changed channels on his amp. Everyone was quiet and attentive while RTF played. It was pretty impressive. It was doubly special for me because I finally got to see Lenny White play drums live.

Of all of Al’s other solo works, I really only liked Land of the Midnight Sun and Casino. The others got a little too modern sounding for me…But Elegant Gypsy is the cream of the crop.

So Mark Reale, if you’re reading this, thanks for turning me on to DiMeola.  I owe you bigtime! :)

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  1. […] mentioned in another post about seeing Return To Forever a few years back and how great it was and also about missing a Di […]


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