Customer Reviews: Secret Story 2CD Special Edition
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VINE VOICEon October 1, 2007
This is my first foray into the remastered Geffen Metheny releases. I have heard they sound great and I don't doubt that: the fact is they already sounded great in their initial release. What drew me to this one was the promise of a second disc containing five unreleased songs from the Secret Story sessions. More on that later.

By the mid 80's Metheny felt stifled by ECM's pressure to make albums in one or two days with few or no overdubs and in 1985, left to make studio albums that took advantage of the advanced processing and mixing capablilities of the studio, an approach almost completely contrary to Manfred Eicher's european aseticism. Eicher's aesthetic worked quite well for most of the artists in his catalogue, even some of Metheny's own CDs, (As Fall Wichita Falls comes to mind,), but never seemed to gel for the Metheny Group albums. The Geffen people gave Metheny the time and sophisticated environment he needed to realize his vision. That vision was never more focused than on this side project, Secret Story. This was to be Pat's most personal and ambitious statement of his career.

Even without the extra disc it was a massive epic, clocking in just under the 80 minutes allotted for the CD format. Yet in 78 minutes or so, nearly every human emotion was explored, from the religious ecstasy of Above the Treetops, through the earthy optimism of Cathedral in a Suitcase, the epic transcendance of Finding and Believing, the forlorn longing of Tell Her You Saw Me to the soul searching strings of Antonia. It is a profoundly honest work, sweeping the listener along a journey through youth and innocence, discovery and heartbreak and finally to acceptance and healing. I have always suspected that the subtext of this album was a story of love and loss but with Pat Metheny being the very private person he is, it is likely that story will remain a secret one.

So, the two things most fans will want to know the answers to:

1.How does it sound? Well, it definitely sounds better. Parts are more defined and the bass seems deeper and wider. The overall soundstage seems wider as well. It is a quantitatively better sounding master. I would not say that the difference is startling, but it is quite noticeable.

2. How are the five new tracks? I have only listened to them twice, but my impression is that they are, like many of the tracks on the original, cinematic and evocative. They just didn't make the cut. And while I can understand why these didn't make it to the original SS release due to time considerations, quality etc, I wouldn't exactly dismiss them as throw aways.On the other hand, I would say that they are not essential to the arc of the original Secret Story release, which stands on its own as whole and complete.

The first track features Toots Thielemans and reminds me a bit of the ballad from the original CD, Always and Forever. I would say Always is the superior composition, which I am guessing is why this track didn't make it to the CD, but I like the atmosphere of this piece very much and Pat's guitar solo is quite beautiful. And it's always a treat to hear the one and only Toots. Clocking in at almost 6 minutes, it is the centerpiece of this new material.

The second tune reminds me of the earlier Metheny Group sound with Pedro Aznar. The vocalist is not identified-it might very well be Pedro, probably the most soulful singer the group ever had. If you liked First Circle you will be pleasantly reminded of that high point in the career of the PMG. But don't expect too much-this tune is a relatively simple mood piece that doesn't develop beyond a simple repetitive structure.

The third tune is a short piece scored for harp and strings. Pat doesn't play on this track. It contains more of the somber tone that emerges towards the end of the first disc. A beautiful miniature that fits right in with the Secret Story journey.

The fourth piece, primarlily scored for strings, is written in a modern tonal classical style similar to Gorecki. I just wish it wasn't so short. It would've been nice to hear some development. It ends just as it seems to settle in.

The fifth tune is Metheny at his lightest and silliest. Sporting a jaunty whistle-down-the-street melody, it hints at Pat's affection for Burt Bacharach and Jimmy Webb and exudes the goofy optimism one associates with a score to a 60's coming of age film or TV theme, all innocence and naivete, yet enchanting nonetheless. Makes you almost wonder if in an alternative reality, Pat might've had a successful career scoring for television.

I wish that all the PMG remasters had these sort of extras. I'd buy them in a heartbeat.

In short: Highly recommended just for the improved sound alone, especially for those who are already fans of this ambitious masterpiece. The bonus tracks are icing on an already sumptuous cake.
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on January 11, 2008
By John Kelman at allaboutjazz site

If The Way Up (Nonesuch, 2005) is Pat Metheny Group's magnum opus, then Secret Story is the guitarist's greatest achievement as a solo artist to date. A sprawling, 76-minute epic featuring a wealth of guest artists, members of a symphony orchestra and Metheny playing countless parts on an arsenal of guitars and keyboards, its only flaw has been the comparably thin sound that marred much of his Geffen-era work. Secret Story: Deluxe Edition not only gives the album the sonic upgrade it's been waiting for, but includes a second disc with five tracks that, while recorded for the date, were ultimately omitted.

Metheny has always leaned towards long-form, through-composed writing, especially in collaboration with pianist Lyle Mays on Pat Metheny Group albums. Here, as sole composer, one can hear Mays' contribution to PMG through its absence. While there's no lack of complexity here, there's stronger romanticism and less mathematical logic. Still, Metheny makes many of his roots clear, most notably the pulse-driven minimalism of composer Steve Reich, whose influence can be heard on the sweeping "Cathedral in a Suitcase" and multi- layered, contrapuntal "Finding and Believing," where the late Mark Ledford's many times overdubbed voice is pitted against percussive guitar and keyboard parts.

While Secret Story's rich compositional approach eschews the spontaneity of Metheny's more open- ended trio projects, there's still no shortage of strong improvising throughout, most notably his electric guitar solos on the propulsive Midwestern Americana of "Facing West" and more change-heavy "See the World," and his signature trumpet-like guitar synth on the balladic "The Longest Summer" and powerfully dramatic "The Truth Will Always Be."

Metheny's world view is all over Secret Story, from the opening "Above the Treetops," based on a traditional Cambodian hymn, to the classical romanticism of "Tell Her You Saw Me," the backbeat-driven and near-anthemic "Sunlight" and Brazilian-informed "Rain River." While most Metheny albums have each possessed a relatively singular focus, Secret Story's broad narrative is the most inclusive representation of the guitarist as composer and multi-instrumentalist.

Tthe added tracks on disc two are intriguing, but it's easy to see why they weren't included on the original release. The orchestra-driven "Back in Time," the best of the bunch, features harmonicist Toots Thielemans and Metheny's graceful nylon-string guitar, while "Et si c'était la fin" is a bright, Burt Bacharach-like piece of pop. These tunes bookend three tracks--"Understanding," "A Change in Circumstance" and "Look Ahead"-- that are unfortunately mislabeled. The first features the entire Pat Metheny Group, a delicate, through- composed piece; the second is another orchestral piece featuring harpist Skaila Kanga; and the last is a brief orchestral miniature.

For those who already own Secret Story, the bonus tracks are an interesting view into how and why certain pieces make it onto an album while others don't. But it's the beautifully warm and rich remastering, revealing details previously unheard, that makes Secret Story: Deluxe Edition definitive, essential, and a welcome return to print of an indisputable masterpiece.
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on December 7, 2007
I'm writing this review specifically for the remastered versions of Still Life Talking, Letter From Home, and Secret Story. Chances are you probably already own these and are wondering about the new versions. If these are some of your favorite albums, as they are mine, then you can't go wrong. Of the 3, SLT and LFH show the biggest improvements. They both have a much wider soundstage and improved depth with a much cleaner high end as well as powerful bass and clarity. I have listened side by side with the originals and the difference is VERY noticeable. If you have a good system these are fine recordings. (No Ipods please.)

However unless you are die hard Metheny fan, Secret Story is not that great an improvement. This was already a great recording, especially for 15 years ago, and side by side with the original it's hard to tell. In some areas slightly. Enough to warrant the cost of a new CD, well maybe. The extra bonus CD material is mediocre at best and even though I'm a huge fan I probably could have lived without it. It's just OK. Nothing stellar here.

Bottom line: SLT and LFH? Yes, definitely an improvement. Get them. SS....well, maybe if you're a huge fan. (Or if you've never heard this album in the first place. Some of the best music ever made. Period.)
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on December 24, 2011
Well, that depends on the listener. If you are a PMG nut like me who only wants the best version available for this masterpiece of ear candy, then the answer is Yes! I estimate this remaster to have about a 10-20% increase in presence when listened to on a Hi-Fi system. It has more definition and separation especially when Pat plays in unison with other instruments. The strings are more present as well. No compression side-effects and is well balanced.
If you already own this title and listen to it on an MP3 player, or mostly "Low-Fi" equipment, then you may not hear much of a difference.
If you are a big fan and listen to music on Hi-Fi, then Yes!
The bonus songs on disc #2 are pretty good (best is Track #1), and have the film-sountrack w/strings emphasis.
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on May 4, 2008
Secrets Story is probably my favorite Pat Metheny album. From the children's choir of "Above the Treetops" to the sea shanty-like accordion sounds of "Antonia", this is an album that's perfect for almost any occasion. It definitely tells a story throughout. When I heard it was being reissued with bonus songs from the session, I was delighted and anxious to get my own copy.

After hearing the 5 extra songs, I have to say, I'm disappointed. They're are "ok" but not spectacular and barely worthy of being on this classic cd. As I listened, I was hoping at least the final song would make the purchase worth my while but that wasn't stunning either. If you're interested in "Secret Story", stick to the less expensive original as the extra songs on the reissue are on a separate cd. If you already have the original, then be assured you have the best version.
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on September 25, 2007
I fell in love with this music back in 1992. If anything ,my love for its lyricism and sublime joys has deepened. The remastering only deepens the aural kiss. Long may this music resound in your heart.
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on October 21, 2007
There are next mistakes in a listing of additional titles in booklet: Track 2 in booklet (Understanding) really is track 3 on CD. Track 3 in booklet (A Change in Circumstance) really is track 4 on CD. Track 4 in booklet (Look Ahead) really is track 2 on CD.
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on October 13, 2007
Secret Story, in my opinion may be one of the finest recordings available in this genre and this remastered and ammended version is certainly every bit as good as the original. Pat Metheny takes you on a musical journey through his rich imagination and lets you explore, aurally, his visions of the world, his influences and the stories he has to tell. The addition of the five "bonus" cuts was not necessary and since they are on disc 2 they are somewhat disjointed, which is just as well because the original recording is as near to perfect as can be done. Secret Story remains my favorite Pat Metheny recording and possibly my overall favorite album of all time.
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on February 29, 2016
The bonus tracks disc nothing special, but the main disc right up there with anything by PMGroup. If you ever wanted to hear a real orchestra, or Toots Thielman, instead of electronic approximations, this is for you. (No offense, Lyle, but surprisingly you were missed not so much)
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on November 21, 2015
This is my go-to CD when I need to chill on the way home from a stressful day at work or if I have a long road trip ahead of me. I'm a big Pat Metheny fan - fell in love with "Still Life Talking" and now have a very healthy collection of his music.
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