Weather Report – Sportin’ Life (1985), Jazz Fusion Album

Sportin’ Life‘ is the title of the 13th studio album released by the legendary American jazz rock/jazz fusion band Weather Report in March 1985 through Columbia Records. The record has total length of 39 minutes and 9 seconds and was produced by co-frontmen and co-founders Joe Zawinul (keyboards) and Wayne Shorter (saxophones).

‘Sprotin’ Life’ (1985) by Weather Report, frontal cover artowork. Image source:

‘Sportin’ Life’ is the Weather Report studio album which includes the most vocal performances recorded in their discography, surpassing, in this regard, any of their previous LPs. Nevertheless, lyrics that are actually sung are quite sparsely heard and the vocal performances recorded on the album are mostly chants performing by selected guest vocalists Bobby McFerrin, Carl Anderson, Dee Dee Bellson, or Alfie Silas.

While not a commercial success as some of its predecessors, ‘Sportin’ Life’ was well to very well received in critical regards by such specialized music publications as ‘Allmusic’ (which gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars) or The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (which gave it 3 out of 4 stars). Interestingly, the album’s name was inspired by a namesake character from the opera ‘Porgy and Bess‘ by American pianist and composer George Gershwin. In addition, this LP was to be the last one released by Weather but, due to contractual obligations with their label, Columbia Records, the band had to release one more studio album the following year in 1986 which was represented by ‘This is This!’ (on which Carlos Santana was invited to play guitar).

The album has the following tracklist:

  1. Corner Pocket (composed by Joe Zawinul);
  2. Indiscretions (composed by Joe Zawinul);
  3. Hot Cargo (composed by Joe Zawinul);
  4. Confians (composed by Mino Cinélu);
  5. Pearl On The Half Shelf (composed by Wayne Shorter);
  6. What’s Going On (Marvin Gaye cover; originally composed by Renaldo Benson, Alfred Cleveland, and Marvin Gaye himself);
  7. Face on the Barroom Floor (yes, you read that right, no typo whatsoever, that was the original title of the song, heh; composed by Wayne Shorter);
  8. Ice-Pick Willy (composed by Joe Zawinul).

The recording personnel was as follows:

  • Josef ‘Joe’ Erich Zawinul – keyboards;
  • Wayne Shorter – saxophones;
  • Omar Hakim – drums and background vocals on track 4;
  • Victor Bailey – electric bass and drums on track 4;
  • Mino Cinélu – percussion, lead vocals and acoustic guitar track 4;
  • Bobby McFerrin – guest vocalist (on tracks 1, 3, 5, and 8);
  • Carl Anderson – guest vocalist (on tracks 1, 3, and 8);
  • Dee Dee Bellson – guest vocalist (on tracks 1, 3, and 8);
  • Alfie Silas – guest vocalist (on tracks 1, 3, and 8).

The technical personnel was as follows:

  • Howard Siegel – engineer;
  • Tony Lane – art direction;
  • Nancy Donald – art direction;
  • Jerry McDonald – album artwork/design.

Down below you can listen to each track on the album via Youtube. My favourite song is ‘Corner Pocket’, the opener. Enjoy and all the best! Thank you very much for your attention, time, and readership! I am very grateful to you for all them! Thank you so much for visiting The Rockpedia! Cheers!

Documentation sources and external links:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *