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It's useful to compare the two bassists' approaches to solo albums. Pastorius assumed a solo album meant just that: although there would be some numbers in a group setting, there should also be at least a couple of tracks where bass was the only instrument. Clarke didn't quite see things that way: his solo albums were more of an opportunity to front numerous different assemblies of highly accomplished musicians. The only rule, as he saw it, was not to use Lenny White or Al di Meola, or you might as well call the result another Return to Forever album.
Here he employs a fantastic roll-call of the leading drummers of the time: Bill Cobham, Eleventh House's Gerry Brown, and ace session musician Steve Gadd. Corea isn't featured at all, so Clarke himself provides some piano, and Dave Sancious and George Duke provides most of the keyboard fest elsewhere.
The album was Clarke's zenith, and his biggest seller. Sadly there's only one acoustic track here, but the electric tracks, to my ear, haven't dated as badly as those on 'Journey to Love'. Over the course of 25 years I have played it to death, and feel I know every note! But this means I cannot forecast how it will sound to new ears. To me it's still hugely enjoyable.
Into these six tracks, Clarke packs energy, daring and taste. Supplemented by what can only be called the best players in fusion and rock (Jeff Beck, David Sancious, Billy Cobham and, oh yes, John McLaughlin) Clarke removes the bass from the hands of limited slappers and extends playing technique that despite what some may think, is still the gold standard.
Some may compare Stanley Clarke to his putative rival Jaco Pastorius, but while Jaco was a great player, no mistake, Clarke is a great musical mind. The sweep of this music, the careful, but not constricted orchestration, the attention to detail all propel Stanley Clarke to the head of the class.
This album captures what was great about the best Jazz fusion, and indeed of the best of rock music of this time: the sense of limitless ecstatic exploration. In this dogmatic, cramped and idea-free era, listening to Stanley Clarke feels akin to Crimethink. Bring on the thought police, I'll confess.
The release for 12/21/2004 (MSI label, UPC: 5099750300220) is 24-bit Remastered/Reissued; Buying this CD is like having your own copy of the original master tape. Please don't believe in the illusion that vinyl is better. At 24-bit resolution (with DVD-A or DSD/SACD being even closer) only having the original master would be surpassed. Since the mid-80's, studio sessions began to be digitally recorded at the start as almost all are these days. Prior to that; any 2" @ 30-ips with or without ND encoded thru digital remastering can sound great if the original tape was properly cared for.
UPDATED: To help all looking for Digital Remastered Versions, the UPC's are:'School Days' = 5099746821920 or 5099750300220; `Stanley Clarke' = 5099746821821 (1991). As for 'Journey To Love' it has been with great difficulty in that the UPC - 5099746822125 (1994) that I received (as an import) was not a digital remaster and believe it will be `hit-or-miss' on this one. The Sony UPC - 886972415024 (2008) was also not a digital remaster. Previously, I attempted to buy all three here only to return them as incorrect versions (not having the correct UPC's) as listed. These sonic comparisons were made using the `The Bass-ic Collection' CD, which is a digital remastered CD.
Why all the fuss? These are exceptional performances by Stanley Clarke and worth the hunt or wait.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great remastered classic cd, great price, great service... thank you!Published 4 months ago by glenn a danz
In my top 10 collection of the greatest Jazz Rock Fusion albums of all times! Kids today need this type of talent, School Days!Published 7 months ago by Cedric Warren
I'm replacing old, lost albums. This a good album. Happy music.Published 12 months ago by Pat Ludwig