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Mahavishnu Orchestra - Inner Worlds  CD (album) cover

INNER WORLDS

Mahavishnu Orchestra

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

2.39 | 71 ratings

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Chicapah
Prog Reviewer
1 stars You gotta wonder what gets into otherwise talented, gifted people sometimes. While John McLaughlin designated this as a Mahavishnu Orchestra album do not allow yourself to be misled. Any resemblance to the innovative, revolutionary and amazing music the group created in the early 70s is utterly nonexistent. You can call a chunk of limestone a diamond all you want but it's still nothing more than a common rock to anyone with at least one functioning eye.

"All in the Family" is the first track and it's quasi-interesting to some extent compared to what is coming later. Narada Michael Walden's drumming is undeniably skillful as he guides the band through a high-powered jam designed to facilitate a spirited sparring match between John's guitar and Stu Goldberg's synthesizer. "Miles Out" has an odd, almost funky feel to it once you get past some strange guitar noises at the beginning. There's some very fast playing going on with Walden continuing to be impressive but McLaughlin and Goldberg grossly overindulge in electronic devices and make an ugly mess of things. "In My Life" is a poor attempt at composing an easy-listening ballad and, other than John's flashy 12-string acoustic guitar solo, it is ridiculous. The song has no discernable soul and the words are embarrassingly juvenile and banal at best. I'm not really sure what to make of the next tune, "Gita," but it reinforces my opinion that jazz rock/fusion combined with vocals rarely works, if ever. A handful of Santana's tunes in this vein have proven to be the exception but that's definitely not the case here. Beware. This song is LAME. I mean, was anybody paying attention to quality control here? Moving on, it's quite telling when one of the few highlights of an album is a tune that only lasts for 1:20 in duration. While I'm not praising it by any means, "Morning Calls" is, at the very least, inoffensive with its extremely simple guitar and organ melody.

Walden's "The Way of the Pilgrim" has a straight rock beat and a rather pedestrian musical theme accented by some rumbling tympani. This song might have come close to achieving flight had the synthesizer and guitar leads displayed a smidgen of fire and emotion but they don't and the tune fails to make much of an impression. Narada brings things to a complete standstill with the next song, "River of my Heart," as his very feminine-sounding voice accompanied by piano is pathetically weak. I really hate to rain on the boy's parade but enough already! Please stop trying to sing! Bassist Ralphe Armstrong contributes a tune at this point, his funky R&B-tainted "Planetary Citizen" that is either a godawful imitation or an unintentional lampoon of Earth, Wind and Fire. The vocals are deplorable and the only thing this song has going for it is the fact that it is blissfully short. "Lotus Feet" (is that some kind of a metaphysical put- down or what?) follows and, in light of what has come before, it's not too bad. Walden plays congas and sleigh bells while the guitar and synthesizer create a peaceful atmosphere but the tune never takes the listener anywhere at all. "Inner Worlds" starts out with some spacey noises before Walden's drumming moves things in a more traditional Mahavishnu Orchestra direction. The problem arises in the truth that in the past you would have been treated to breathtaking, exhilarating guitar, keyboard and violin rides but here you get only blatant overuse of effects. The drums are good throughout and the band does reach for some bombastic pageantry at the end but it's too little too late to save this stinker.

All I can say is that if this was the state of John McLaughlin's "inner world" at that point in his life then he was in desperate need of some intense psychotherapy. I will forever respect, enjoy and highly recommend the albums "Inner Mounting Flame" and "Birds of Fire" but I would warn all who would be tempted to indulge their ears in this travesty to stay far away from it. Believe me, I'm doing you a favor.

Chicapah | 1/5 |

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