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Mahavishnu Orchestra - Inner Worlds CD (album) cover


Mahavishnu Orchestra


Jazz Rock/Fusion

2.50 | 99 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

3 stars I knew I HAD to get this album, at least a cheap used LP. It's because of the utterly ridiculous cover! I mean, what was John McLaughlin thinking? What possessed him to go shirtless for this cover? The shirtless John McLaughlin, as well as that ridiculous haircut he adopted since associating himself with Sri Chinmoy. It's one thing when Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad) goes shirtless, "that's rock and roll", so they say (but I seriously doubt he'd do anything like that these days as a solo act performing Christian songs, but perfectly fine in the old Grand Funk days). It also seriously divides the fans. This is basically the end of the road for Mahavishnu Orchestra (which some believe should have ended with the breakup of the original band). This is John McLaughlin, with Ralphe Armstrong, Narada Michael Walden, and Stu Goldberg. Note that Gayle Moran and Jean-Luc Ponty had left.

The album really isn't that bad, though far from perfect. It's that the vocal tracks seriously conflict with the flow of the album, most of the vocal tracks have that soulful feel. Soul music on a Mahavishnu album does seem a bit inappropriate. Luckily there are several instrumental cuts, some of them exploring that same funky direction of Visions of the Emerald Beyond. Unfortunately some of them feature this guitar synthesizer McLaughlin was experimenting with, so this resulted in a bunch of noise, "Miles Ahead" clearly demonstrating that. It just sounded like technology McLaughlin was not familiar with (to be fair, anyone else, for that matter). Timo Laine (Symphonic Slam) and Steve Hackett also used guitar synthesizers in their music. Because McLaughlin wasn't familiar with this technology, it's little wonder lots of noise and racket were being created, it sounded like he had trouble controlling it. Things work much better, naturally, when he uses his normal guitars. "All in the Family" is the opening song, luckily it's not him and the band doing the theme song of the TV show that bears this name, this is a great opening instrumental fusion number. To me, this is as great as anything the original band could come up with, although there's a Latin-feel to the percussion giving a bit of a Santana-thing song on (which I guess is no surprise given McLaughlin had collaborated with Carlos Santana on Love, Devotion, Surrender). "In My Life", "Gita", "River of my Heart", and "Planetary Citizen" are the vocal cuts, some work better than others, I felt the worst offenders were "In My Life" and "River of My Heart". They were basically soul ballads. Those simply don't work on a Mahavishnu Orchestra album. "Planetary Citizen" works better, as there's more edge to it. I guess McLaughlin felt the need for vocal cuts to get his spiritual message across, something he never needed to do with the original 1971-73 band. The rest of the album is all-instrumental, and this is where they shine best, if the guitar synthesizer isn't out there distracting. I am convinced that had he ditched those vocal cuts and kept his hands off that guitar synthesizer, that this could have easily ended up as a classic, rather than a controversial career ending for Mahavishnu Ochestra.

Since I can't say this album is bad, because several songs actually blew me away, the flaws are pretty obvious, so three stars it is. If you want to hear post-Mark I Mahavishnu Orchestra at their best, go for Visions of the Emerald Beyond (as vocals are kept to a minimum, so it's about 80% instrumental, and the funky approach is quite nice).

Progfan97402 | 3/5 |


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