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


Mahavishnu Orchestra


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.27 | 886 ratings

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4 stars Surely the hardest rocking of all the great fusion bands of the 70s, The Mahavishnu Orchestra was a pretty much unbeatable combination of musicians that performed inciendiary breath-taking jazz-rock flawlessly. Oddly enough, its dominant member/main composer John McLaughlin is my least favourite member of the quintet, as I feel his solos have a tendancy to be all about volume and speed, but (aside from the fact that keyboardist Jan Hammer was underused) it's pretty hard to find another flaw in The Mahavishnu Orchestra's frequently stunning music.

Inner Mounting Flame was where the quintet first laid it all down, and as such it's probably where most people should start off, although all three of the studio albums released by the original line-up are excellent (I'm including the second album Birds Of Fire and the lost third album which came out 26 years after it was recorded The Lost Trident Sessions here). Believe me, if you've never heard Mahavishnu before, you're in for a real treat ...

Take the first piece Meeting Of The Spirits. I'm not exagerrating when I say that Billy Cobham's drumming and Jerry Goodman's violin-playing are outstanding in their precision and fire, but no one gets left behind. Dawn is mellower jazz-rock led by Jan Hammer's electric piano and features a heart-breaking solo from Goodman. I must say that I think McLaughlin's solo doesn't work upon its initial entry, but once the band picks up the pace and Goodman takes over, everything just rocks. Noonward Race likewise is a scintillating jam with first Goodman, then Hammer, then McLaughlin taking the honours.

A Lotus On Irish Streams is a superb reflective piece with superb turns from the soloists Goodman, Hammer and McLaughlin. While Vital Transformation is one hell of a rocker on which Cobham's playing reaches some amazing heights. For me the album's weakest track is The Dance Of The Maya which has too much orthodox blues and dull wah-wah explorations from McLaughlin (even Goodman is guilty on this one). You Know. You Know on the other hand has it all, from the light intro, with the doubling up of Dave Laird's bass and Goodman's violin, then Hammer's awesome bluesy electric piano runs, and an ending in which both Goodman and McLaughlin turn in fiery leads while Cobham gives a veritable drum clinic in how to roll. In a way the bass of this piece doesn't move much, yet I love it to bits. Awakening is another one of those high-octane rapid-fire jams starring both Goodman and Hammer, that sets the seal on an excellent album.

It's no coincidence that this album and its successor have the words "flame" and "fire" in their title, for that does indeed convey the mood of Mahavishnu's music. Decades after the group's ashes have blown away, there's something remarkably alive about this music. ... 84% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 4/5 |


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