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Mahavishnu Orchestra - The Lost Trident Sessions CD (album) cover


Mahavishnu Orchestra


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.17 | 184 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Jazz Rock Fusion aficionados, for too long the underdogs in the culture kennel, had reason to cheer in 1999. Not only did a long-lost recording by John McLaughlin's first MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA (a group held to be one of the founding fathers of the now much-maligned genre) suddenly re-surface after languishing in the studio vaults for 25 years, but the music turned out to be no less fresh and invigorating than the band's first two acclaimed albums, "Inner Mounting Flame" and "Birds of Fire".

At the time it would likely have been the last recorded effort of the original band: a dynamic outfit with too many personal and professional conflicts to survive over the long run. In a burst of incandescent creativity typical of their entire (too short) career, the Mahavishnus set down the basic tracks, more or less live in the studio, before circumstances led them to abandon the tapes and go their separate ways.

Fast forward a quarter of a century, when the forgotten album was resurrected and finally released in all its undoctored glory. Talk about a blast from the past: in an age of diminished aspirations these tapes provide a thrilling reminder of a time when music was something more than just another arm of the corporate entertainment octopus.

Of course it doesn't actually represent the intended album. It's easy to hear the spots where overdubbing might have been applied, but the lack of any final polish gives the music a stronger sense of immediacy and raw vitality. The 11-minute album opener "Dream" sets the bar, beginning in an acoustic, contemplative mood before shifting gears upward into an absolutely torrid jam. And Part II of the likewise McLaughlin-penned "Trilogy" features some of the guitarist's most overtly Rock-based playing since the "Jack Johnson" sessions with Miles Davis three years earlier.

A few shorter numbers authored by McLaughlin's disgruntled bandmates (who for some time had been lobbying for more compositional input) fill out the album, which concludes, as did the group itself, in a rush of nervous tension during the lamely-titled but compelling curtain closer, "John's Song".

It's a pity the original band couldn't have patched up their creative differences for the sake of such superlative music. But the brevity of their time together is part of what makes the music so valuable, and like any other rare gem this album is all the more precious for having been lost for so many years.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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