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Mahavishnu Orchestra - Visions Of The Emerald Beyond CD (album) cover


Mahavishnu Orchestra


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.89 | 259 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Those birds again?

Mahavishnu Orchestra is a band widely known in the jazz circles as one of the greatest embodiments of the jazz fusion movement, that had it's height from the late 60's to the mid 70's, that shared with progressive rock more than their golden years. This 1975 album, entitled Visions of Emerald Beyond, did not featured the majority famous classical line-up of the Orchestra (the only remaining member from the original band that is still playing here is John), but that does not mean that this album brings us anything less than the early Mahavishnu albums.

Actually, this very album shares with the much fabled Birds of Fire, the band's best selling and most famous album, not only the flaming birds, but they also share at least one more feature, at least in my view: they both appeal to me in the same degree. Beyond this point, the albums have not much in common: Birds of Fire feature a very aggressive, energetic and very powerful kind of jazz, which was played very fast and aggressively by the 5 band members alone, wile in Visions of the Emerald Beyond all those characteristics were clearly toned down, but at the same time the music retrieved some of the feeling and mood it had lost in that said 1973 album, with the addition of supporting personnel (string trio, saxes, brass instruments, flute and supporting vocals) and singing from the whole band. This album brings a bigger diversity of styles as well, when compared to Birds of Fire, which are connected or have some relation with jazz (mostly), classical music or progressive rock.

Despite those differences, this album is some kind of comeback for the band. That is because in 1974, with the brilliant and classical music-driven album Apocalypse, the band completely derailed from their initial approach, which was possibly traumatic for both the band and the fans, which were possibly not acquainted with such style of music. That still have consequences today, as Apocalypse has the second lowest rating from all albums released in the 70's, only losing to the mediocre Inner Words. However, the band's efforts resulted in a very good and distinguished album, but not a comeback, since, despite obviously being a jazz album, it could not be able to regain both the attention and the following the band had before, unfortunately.

Grade and Final Thoughts

All this diversity and the milder approach of the album makes Visions of the Emerald Beyond a very pleasant album to listen to. The album flows very smoothly as most songs, though being rather short, have some relation with another. It is a shame that this is the final good album recorded by Mahavishnu Orchestra. 4 stars for those visions, and I hope you are able to stand the funk!

CCVP | 4/5 |


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