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Mahavishnu Orchestra - The Inner Mounting Flame  CD (album) cover

THE INNER MOUNTING FLAME

Mahavishnu Orchestra

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.29 | 608 ratings

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Flucktrot
Prog Reviewer
4 stars It's strange, but I've always viewed this album as a solid four-star--on par with some of the all-time fusion classics, but not quite there. Recently, upon preparing to finally review this gem, one thing always kept sticking out: 1971. Most of the other real fusion classics (at least in my book, mind you) were over four years later. This is simply an incredible sound for 1971, and these guys deserve the utmost respect for laying it down. Truly uncharted territory here, and that counts for something.

As for the Dream Theater comparisons, I'm a little shocked. Sure, there are some unison runs, BUT, while DT painstakingly choreographs them, these guys just let it happen, and they break loose whenever they darn well feel like it. If things get a little out of key once in a while, all the better! This is not simply technical playing. This is the essence of fusion.

Meeting of the Spirits kicks things off properly, with lots of dynamic shifts and a crazy tempo. McLaughlin could stand to be cranked down a bit (or at least throw in some vibrato), but his interplay with Goodman is outstanding, and Hammer makes sure to assert himself as well. Dawn is also a highlight--just listen to the part about two minutes in where they effortlessly switch from lazy shuffling to funky jazz and try to tell me that this is only technical playing...I dare you!

Vital Transformation, The Noonward Race. Does Billy Cobham keep a fire extinguisher near his kit? That would seem necessary, because when he breaks out on these tunes, I can easily envision his skins igniting. On the other hand, it would seem unwise to keep any contents under high pressure near him, because he would eventually bash it open and cause an explosion. Either way, it makes for great music, especially with Hammer and McLaughlin keeping up throughout.

We also have a contemplative tune (the absolutely gorgeous Lotus), a brooding number (You Know, You Know) and a dissonance exploration tune (Dance of the Maya). All in all, this is incredible diversity, and Mahavishnu Orchestra have really accomplished something impressive with this effort. If you are a fan of fusion and somehow do not have this cornerstone album, find it now, and you will rest much easier--that is, of course, if you can prevent yourself from continuously playing these tunes in your head.

Flucktrot | 4/5 |

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