Mr. Gone

Mr. Gone

Down Beat famously gave Mr. Gone a one-star review upon its release, comparing Weather Report to '20s bandleader Paul Whiteman for the way the group processed experimental jazz for white mainstream audiences. Ever since, the album has been divisive. For all of Weather Report’s crossover ambitions, they were always keen to generate new ways to surprise and even confuse a fanbase that had come to expect a dizzying level of intricacy. In some ways, Mr. Gone feels like the group’s attempt to test just how far out they could go and still retain the attention of a popular audience. When they miss the mark, the results are sometimes even more interesting. “The Pursuit of the Woman with the Feathered Hat,” “River People,” and “Mr. Gone” contain so many ideas, all percolating simultaneously, that the music at times seems like it was written in an alien language—yet, even at its most convoluted, it’s always funky. By dispensing with the vocabulary of popular music, Weather Report alienated some listeners, but no one can argue that it isn’t fascinating to hear them try to break through to a new grammar.

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