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Mahavishnu Orchestra - Apocalypse CD (album) cover

APOCALYPSE

Mahavishnu Orchestra

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.59 | 163 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Slartibartfast
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Mahavishnu Orchestra meets an actual orchestra, London Symphony, that is. MO vs. the LSO? This has got to be one of the greatest integrations of an orchestra into progressive music and I suspect they all had blisters on their fingers by the end of the recording session. These guys all get a tough workout.

Many people lament the break up of the original MO lineup, but I'm not in that camp. Apocalypse is John McLaughlin's first outing as the MO without any of the original members and I love that period but, this is my favorite MO album. The music here is very apocalyptic, but some of the song titles don't quite fit the theme: Power of Love, Smile of the Beyond, Hymn To Him. Vision Is A Naked Sword and Wings of Karma, I can kind of get.

The Power of Love is a rather mellow starter for the album, but it has some kind of ominous undertones going on in the music.

After a brief moment of silence, Vision Is A Naked Sword, sneaks up on you and the music is very dark. Over 14 minutes of intense Mahavishnu and London Symphony Orchestra interplay. But it's not all totally bleak. Almost like a musical short story.

Things mellow out again with Smile of the Beyond, but not completely. And you get a first for MO, vocals, female vocals no less. Gayle Moran, who is also the keyboardist for this lineup has a really pretty voice. There will be more pieces to come in the soon to be future, but fortunately vocals in MO have been occasional. Usually not much room for them in this kind of music. This one starts out with Moran singing and the other orchestra, but then the band really takes off and jams about midway, before a return to the beginning, still a little bit of ominous feeling at the end. I think Moran's keyboard work is a little bit of a departure from the style that Jan Hammer, who preceded her.

Wings of Karma starts off continuing and intensifying the quiet ominous sound. After giving LSO a could opportunity play, the band really takes off again. Then you get the band and the orchestra trading licks and the music starts to pick up speed. And then, a sudden mellow ending.

Hymn To Him also starts out mellow. There's enough music packed into this one track to fill up a whole album by itself. This track is sort of the Supper's Ready of jazz-rock/fusion. Actually, it probably takes you to even more places musically. The hectic climactic section of this piece goes on for several minutes and I'd be highly surprised if everyone's fingers aren't blistered by the time slows down. Things end on a rather upbeat note.

The interplay of all the musicional elements is just spectacular. Jean-Luc Ponty, Ralphe Armstrong, and Michanel Walden are excellent successors to Jerry Goodman, Rick Laird, and Billy Cobham Respectively and respectfully. Also of note, the album was produced by George Martin of Beatles fame and Michael Tilson-Thomas conducted the London Symphony Orchestra.

And of course, things just wouldn't be the same without John, who is the core. Can't compliment the guitar work on here enough.

Hey, I was looking at the credits on the back of the CD case, and I notice Columbia Records is at 666 Fifth Avenue. Hmm.

Slartibartfast | 5/5 |

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