John McLaughlin is regarded as one of the greatest guitarists in the history of music. Making albums from the 60's through the present, his intense guitar work with The Mahavishnu Orchestra and Miles Davis gave birth to jazz/fusion. In 1984 he formed a reincarnation of sorts of The Mahavishnu Orchestra. Featuring original Mahavishnu drummer Billy Cobham, plus saxophonist Bill Evans and bassist Jonas Hellborg, this high-energy electric album is regarded as one of his best efforts and has been his most sought after album for CD reissue. It is making its worldwide CD debut!
Alot of people don't know this but John McLaughlin was one of, if not the first guitarist to utilize the guitar synthesizer. Now in this recording he utilizes it effectively on many pieces.
For those who are expecting commemoration of the old Mahavishnu Orchestra, you might be disappointed. It's a different band with a more "refined" sound without losing the propulsiveness and/or drive.
Bill Evans saxophone work lends this edition of the band a different feel. Jonas Hellborg is a marvelous bassist and provides a strong undercurrent throughout.
Remember this was done in '85, so the pieces are more structured than the runaway jams of the seventies. Yet the virtousity is there. This and the follow up "Adventures in Radioland" were two of the finer fusion recordings of the eighties.
There is less of the eastern influence in this recording. McLaughlin tone is frankly better here than in earlier recordings. He's less frenetic and is more to the point. Yes, you will find the flying fingers of the fretboard wizardry here but not as an end to itself.
This recording runs the gamut of fusion sensibilities. Bill Evans shines on tenor saxophone. Billy Cobham is Billy Cobham. Just a monster (I mean that in a good way). The pieces run the gamut from introspective to a down right fusion "throwdown".
Put aside your preconceptions and reminiscences about how you remember Mahavishnu. This is a new band and this is a very good recording, well worth getting.
I first bought this album on vinyl in 1986 at Tower Records, Piccadilly Circus, London. There came a point where I no longer had a turntable so I got rid of all my vinyl albums (big mistake!). I was delighted to see the album had been re-issued on CD as I could vividly remember the rush of first listening to this album. This album is a delight for any lover of good music and especially for fans of mclaughlin/mahavishnu/jazz/fusion. There is a veritable feast of delights inducing all kinds of emotions. Like all good jazz you must allow each of the tracks to develop and reach their climax to achieve the emotional high. Beautiful and Nostalgic.
John McLaughlin resurrected the esteemed old Mahavishnu Orchestra for his mid-'80s quintet, even getting old mate Billy Cobham to fill the drum slot on the band's first album. But this is an entirely different conception than any of the '70s Mahavishnu outfits. The sound is cooler, less strident, more thoroughly dominated by advanced electronic textures -- including a sleekly elegant digital guitar played through a Synclavier. Instead of a violin, Bill Evans contributes some swirling and sometimes bop-flavored work on saxes, and McLaughlin gets mobile but not overly combustible support from keyboardist Mitch Forman and bassist Jonas Hellborg. The homages continue; the opening of "Nostalgia" is exactly that, a throwback to "In a Silent Way" as filtered through digital gear. While this is undeniably prog-minded, beautifully played electric music.
1. Radio-Activity (6:53)
2. Nostalgia (5:57)
3. Nightriders (3:49)
4. East Side, West Side (4:49)
5. Clarendon Hills (6:05)
6. Jazz (1:45)
7. The Unbeliever (2:49)
8. Pacific Express (6:32)
9. When Blue Turns Gold (3:22)
John McLaughlin - Synclavier II, Digital Guitar, Les Paul Special
Mitchel Forman - Fender Rhodes, Yamaha DX7, Yamaha "Blow Torch" Piano on "Clarendon Hills"
Jonas Hellborg - Fretless Bass Guitar, Fretted Bass Guitar
Bill Evans - Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute
Billy Cobham - Drums, Percussion
Danny Gottlieb: Percussion
Hari Prasad Chaurasia: Flute on "When Blue Turns Gold"
Zakir Hussain: Tabla on "When Blue Turns Gold"
Katia Labeque: Synclavier II with Velocity/Pressure Keyboard (VPK), Yamaha DX7, and Acoustic Piano on "When Blue Turns Gold"