DiMeola, McLaughlin, and deLucia – Friday Night in San Francisco

Recorded in December of 1980 at San Francisco’s Warfield Theater, these three mega guitarists convened to create one of history’s most memorable acoustic-guitar records.

Five of the seven tracks are duos, and the final two feature the trio. Bernie Grundman, the original mastering engineer, returns for remastering duties on this sweet ORG pressing. All the compression in my 1A original is swept away; spreading the music over two discs yields myriad benefits.

If there was ever an acoustic disc that encourages you to crank the volume, this is it. When the applause swells up at the end of songs, it’s easy to close your eyes and be transported to that magical winter evening. Every nuance gets captured; every toe tap, every whack of the guitar body comes alive, and if your system is up to snuff, these guys sound as if they are right in the room. You can almost hear the guitar strings picking up weight as they become coated with sweat as the performance progresses.

The most exciting aspect of this recording, now restored to full brilliance? A toss-up between the rapid attack of the players’ blazing speed and the low-level detail in the quietest passages. It’s a shame unreleased material couldn’t be included; this legendary evening begs for bonus tracks.