Weather Report – Heavy Weather

Arguably the jazz fusion band’s best album, Heavy Weather is indisputably Weather Report’s most commercially successful effort courtesy of the memorable song “Birdland,” which in the late 70s could be found on a jukebox in just about every fern bar. This is also the Weather Report set on which bassist extraordinaire Jaco Pastorius became fully involved, writing two tracks and playing on all of them.

Columbia made some pretty grotty-sounding records during this era, and Heavy Weather is no exception. Many of the nuances are lost in the original, and my 1A/1B pressing feels like a brick-walled CD, with mids pushed up so far it feels like Wayne Shorter is playing his sax in my lap—quite unnerving. Lest we forget, this is when the loudness wars began, with record companies trying to get better sound in everyone’s cars and on table radios.

ORG’s pressing is silky smooth, the percussion is more listenable and handclaps natural, no longer sounding like someone beating a stick against a wall. Shorter returns to playing with the band, and overall balance is restored. The added dynamics gleaned from spreading the recording out onto a pair of 45RPM discs brings out new feelings of excitement. Pastorius’ bass riffs snarl with authority, Shorter’s sax flows through the soundstage, and the rest of the players’ contributions disclose the presence of a spaciousness this recording never had before. Another triumph from ORG.  -Jeff Dorgay

Original Recordings Group, 180g 45RPM 2LP