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Weather Report: The Legendary Live Tapes 1978-1981

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It’s no great insight to suggest that Weather Report was primarily a studio band. The legendary fusion ensemble was too reliant on electronic instruments and innovative production techniques to quite come off on the stage, even as they attained arena-rock status during the Jaco Pastorius-Peter Erskine years. In fact, their 1979 live album, 8:30, was heavily edited and overdubbed before release.

Now we learn that there are soundboard-quality documents of Pastorius-Erskine Weather Report (1978-81) in concert, primarily from Japan and the U.K. and recorded on Erskine’s cassette machine. At first glance, the very fact of their studio primacy, and the lack of the visual spectacle the band used onstage, makes The Legendary Live Tapes 1978-1981 mainly a piece for diehards and collectors. But there are some real discoveries to be made from listening to this four-disc set, for better and for worse.

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