‘I Sing the Body Electric‘ is the title of the second studio album released by the legendary American jazz rock/jazz fusion band Weather Report. The album was released in 1972 through Columbia Records, the record with which the group started during the early 1970s and continued to be affiliated until the end of their musical activity in 1986.
Officially issued on 26 May 1972, the LP was recorded between November 1971 and January 1972 at Columbia Recording Studios in New York City. From the first to the last track, the record is a very fine example of early jazz rock/jazz fusion which Weather Report had successfully pioneered alongside other major legendary bands of the genre such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, Herbie Hancock and The Headhunters as well as The Crusaders. It has a total length of 46 minutes and 28 seconds and was produced by Robert Devere.
The name of the album was inspired by the title of a poem by Walt Whitman from 1855 as well as by a short story from 1969 by American dystopian author Ray Bradbury, both bearing the same name. In addition, there is another new aspect to this particular studio album in the band’s history as it features two new members as part of Weather Report’s evolving line-up, more specifically Brazilian percussionist Dom Um Romão as well as drummer Eric Gravatt. Both will continued to perform in the studio and live alike with the band for several more years.
In critical regards, the album was well to very well received by such notable publications as Allmusic (which gave it 4 out of 5 stars), The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide (which gave it 5 out of 5 stars), Sputnikmusic (which gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars), or The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (3.5 stars out of 4). In ‘Christgau’s Record Guide: Rock Album of the Seventies‘ (published in 1981), music critic Robert Christgau notes the following on ‘I Sing the Body Electric’:
Significantly less Milesian than their debut, which is impressive but not necessarily good—the difference is that this is neater, more antiseptic, its bottom less dirty and its top less sexy. I find myself interested but never engaged, and I’m sure one piece is a flop—’Crystal’, described by the annotator as ‘about’ time. Sing the body electric and I’m with you. Sing the body short-circuited and you’d better turn me on.
Christgau gave it a mark B overall.
Otherwise, in a very humorous manner and at the same time quite accurate, keyboardist, co-founder, and co-frontman Josef ‘Joe’ Erich Zawinul stated the following on the album:
No one solos, everyone solos.
Before delving into the tracklist of the album, it is very important to mention the fact that the last three songs on side two were actually recorded live in Tokyo, Japan on 13 January 1972. These are edited versions of the full versions which can be found on Weather Report’s first live album released during the same year, earlier at the beginning of May, entitled ‘Live in Tokyo’. The album has the following tracklist:
- Unknown Soldier (composed by Josef ‘Joe’ Erich Zawinul);
- The Moors (composed by Wayne Shorter);
- Crystal (composed by Miroslav Vitouš);
- Second Sunday in August (composed by Josef ‘Joe’ Erich Zawinul);
- Medley: Vertical Invader/T.H./Dr. Honoris Causa (composed by Josef ‘Joe’ Erich Zawinul and Miroslav Vitouš);
- Surucucú (composed by Wayne Shorter);
- Directions (composed by Josef ‘Joe’ Erich Zawinul).
The recording personnel of Weather Report was as follows:
- Josef ‘Joe’ Erich Zawinul – electric and acoustic pianos as well synthesizers (most notably ARP 2000);
- Wayne Shorter – saxophones;
- Miroslav Vitouš – bass;
- Eric Gravatt – drums;
- Dom Um Romão – percussion.
In addition to the aforementioned line-up of the band, there had also been guest musicians invited on two tracks, more specifically on ‘Unknown Soldier’ and ‘The Moors’. On ‘Unknown Soldier’, the guest musicians were as follows:
- Andrew White – cor anglais;
- Hubert Laws Jr. – flute;
- Wilmer Wise – D & piccolo trumpets;
- Yolande Bavan – vocals;
- Joshie Armstrong – vocals;
- Chapman Roberts – vocals;
- Roger Powell – ARP programming.
In addition, the only guest musician on ‘The Moors’ was Ralph Towner who was on 12-string guitar.
The technical personnel was as follows:
- Wayne Tarnowski and Susumu Satoh – engineers;
- Robert Devere – executive producer;
- Don Meehan – mixing;
- Ed Lee – cover design;
- Fred Swanson and Jack Trompetter – cover artwork.
Below you can integrally listen to all of the tracks on ‘I Sing the Body Electric’, embedded in remastered audio-video format via Youtube (please note, however, that there is a minor spelling error in the title of the first track). I truly hope you’ll like them! All the best, much health, take care, stay safe, many blessings, and great peace your way! God bless you and keep on listening to jazz rock/jazz fusion!
Documentation sources and external links:
- I Sing the Body Electric on www.wikipedia.org (in English)
- I Sing the Body Electric 1855 poem by Walt Whitman on www.wikipedia.org (in English)
- I Sing the Body Electric! (short story collection) by Ray Bradbury on www.wikipedia.org (in English)
- I Sing the Body Electric on www.weatherreportdiscography.com