WEATHER REPORT — I Sing the Body Electric (review)

WEATHER REPORT — I Sing the Body Electric album cover Album · 1972 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Sean Trane
WR’s second album is the direct musical continuity of the debut, even if the percussionists are different. Indeed, the all-stars Mouzon and Moreira had given way to relative unknown Gravatt and Um Romao, thus keeping the American-Central European-Brazilian equilibrium of the their debut album. Recorded, for half in concert, in the winter of 71-72, Body Electric is WR’s most challenging album of their career, closely followed by their debut. Released on Columbia (this label was clearly a pioneer, having just about every great JR act in its stable, bar Nucleus and TW’s Lifetime), the album comes with a stunning artwork, underlining the album’s title, which serves the music just right. The Zawinul-Vitous-Shorter trio is now really at ease with each other and it really sounds like it.

Starting out on the abstract and stunningly cosmic Unknown Soldier (a surrealist piece with a war interlude halfway through), then veering hard with the scorching Moors (goose bumps guaranteed when listened to LOUD), the album settles in a definitively trippy groove with Crystal (Vitous-penned and Vitous-starred, albeit superbly underlined by Shorter) only to finish on the torrid Second Sunday Of August, where the groups is violently slams you within the outer limits of your mind, barely escaping the infliction of permanent insanity.

The live-recorded flipside opens on a hot medley, with Shorter and Zawinul’s instruments on the constant brink of saturation, providing an incredible energy, something that the new rhythm section induces effortlessly with an implacable complex time sig. Of course improvs are around the corner and will drag on a few evitable (in the studios) lengths. The following Surucucù really shows the striking difference between the group’s live energetic facet and the more adventurous studio spirit. The closing Directions is another scorcher, even if it is clear that the different members try to outdo each other.

With Body Electric, the group had reached its apex, and with the future departure of Vitous (he was a bit short-changed in terms of writing space, IMHO), there would be inevitable musical direction changes, something that the following Sweetnighter album would start and the next Mysterious Traveller would finish, transforming the group from a steaming jazz-rock to a groovy funky fusion band, with the arrival of Pastorius.

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