Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Down Beat's Most Famous One Star Review

Weather Report : Punk Jazz

In September of 1978 Weather Report released Mr. Gone, their follow up to Heavy Weather, voted 1977's album of the year by Down Beat Readers. Heavy Weather received a 5 star review from the magazine. This album got only one star in a review so controversial leader Joe Zaniwul joined many readers in protest.

An excerpt from critic David Less:

“Where earlier Weather Report records possessed a sense of adventures, Mr. Gone is coated with the sterility of a too completely preconceived project. While Weather Report was innovative and pivotal in its first experiments, the members now seem out of touch with their basic responsibility as musicians: to communicate. By not taking chances they have nothing to lose, but conversely they have nothing to gain. Weather Report’s status has shifted over the years from a combo of premier jazz-rock innovators to a super-hip rock band with jazz overtones. This LP should prove disappointing to those Weather Report fans who still remember the genuine excitement of its earlier efforts.” 

This wasn't the only bad review the album received. NME's Max Bell wrote “Weather Report are suffering an identity crisis which has completely mitigated the potential of Mr. Gone

Joe Zaniwul has never gotten over the bad review:

“I was angry about it, not because somebody gave it one star. That is totally a reviewer’s right and privilege. What I didn’t like is that it was such a good production. A lot of effort went into that, and we’re no dumb motherfuckers, you know? We tried to do something a little different. Maybe it didn’t come off yet as well as it did later. That is also a point. But, to give somebody one star is just outrageous. Therefore, I was mad at the time, and I am getting mad now.”

All I know is Mr Gone is the first jazz album I ever purchased. I wonder now if the salesman at the record store was under orders to try to sell this album to any shoppers who walking around looking confused. It wound up joining George Benson's Breezin' as my background music for studying.


  1. I don't get it - a one star review for Mr gone. in my opinion River people is weather reports second best song after MYSTERIOUS TRAVELER

  2. I like tracks on this album still, Pinocchio, particularly, still amazes me to this day. But, in general, I would have to agree that this is not one of their stronger albums, especially compared to the ones which came before. Heavy Weather, on the other hand, is a masterpiece. Funny side note: I'm a musician too, who grew up in LA and had the chance to record at Devonshire Sound Studio as part of a church choir, singing background for a Sue Raney album in probably 1973. That was all cool. The funny part is what a shit hole area of the valley the studio was in. Totally unmarked.. you would never know it was there if you weren't supposed to be there. Standard practice usually in reality, but I was surprised...

  3. The Mr. Gone track is one of my all time favourites of anybody. Zawinul's melodies are always unpredictable and this is one of his best. The chords that he plays underneath are just sublime and the stingers that he puts in keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. This track was far ahead of its time and the reviewers.