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

THE INNER MOUNTING FLAME

Mahavishnu Orchestra

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
5 stars With Miles Davis, Tony Williams' Lifetime and Ian Carr's group Nucleus, jazz-rock took a definitive shape and started crystallizing to its actual form. Out of the Bitches Brew sessions came two bands that would really further define JR/F, the first being the brainchild of Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul called Weather Report, and the second being the pet project of John McLaughlin (and with Billy Cobham), called Mahavishnu Orchestra, based on the name his guru Chimnoy had given him. Both bands are simply the essence of jazz-rock and both were particularly progressive in their early days, before jazz-rock sort of veered to jazz-funk and later to fusion. With an almost impossible-to-improve line-up in terms of virtuosity, MO's first era was simply flawless, even if it sometimes went over the top and might seem today a bit indulgent.

Contrary to Weather Report (who reigned as a duo but allowed anyone to come up with numbers), MO was clearly John's ship and clearly he was the captain with no back up, coming up with all of the music, leaving no credits to others. Between his roles with Tony Williams' Lifetime and Miles' group, two albums became very much essential in understanding John's evolution: first came the fantastic Devotion, where his guitar playing simply came of age and his brand of jazz-rock was born with the help of Larry Young (ex-Lifetime) and Buddy Miles (ex-Hendrix), than came the acoustic My Goal's Beyond (where he meets Cobham and Goodman), where John opens up to a very wide spectrum, including Indian music. But these albums cannot lead anyone to guess what was coming with Inner Mounting Flame. Even three decades after my discovery of this album, I still refer to it as Inner Mounting Erection, because it never fails to arouse my interest and reach orgasm, at least aural. (Sorry, I just had to do it ;o)) So when TIMF came out, its impact on music took on seismic importance and they became an instant success, as this album was the perfect mix between jazz and rock.

Opening on the McLaughlin-defining Meeting Of The Spirits (a fantastic version of this emblematic piece) with John's eruptive solos flowing out like molten lava, fluid life a river and rapid like the thunder lightning, and the whole group accompanying him effortlessly, bringing the whole thing to an orgasmic big bang. The reflective Dawn, on the other hand, shows a very different and much quieter facet of this quintet, where Goodman's violin takes on the prime role as a soothing pill, even if McLaughlin's guitar manages to pull the track upbeat, before letting it drop to its original level. The aptly-titled Noonward Race is exactly that: a monstrous piece, a 300MPH track where Cobbham and McLaughlin let use see that they're not normal earthlings, then seeking to hide that fact, they are letting first Goodman and his violin, then Hammer's distinctive-sounding synth have their say, the track resembling a jam. Just like Dawn, the track Lotus On Irish Stream is gentle and soothing (after such a brutal Race), where McLaughlin's acoustic dexterity is featured, where Goodman's aerial violin borders the cheesy and Hammer's cool piano is the cement that binds the track.

The flipside starts with a machine gun fire, courtesy of Cobham, and Vital Transformation becomes the alter-ego of Meeting Of The Spirits, and echoes that track's greatness. Dance Of Maya breaks the cycle of hard-smooth rotation of tracks with a slow-developing blues (that transition from the intro to the track proper is one of the best I've heard) where Mc and Co unleash all they got in terms of histrionics, while respecting the format. The following You Know track seems to be a variant of Meeting, but a calmer one, just content to play with the original riff, Cobham twisting our heads with his fantastic drum rolls. The closing Awakening is a bit the alter-ego of Noonward Race, at least in its intro, but even when reaching its apex, its delivers inhumane speed activity that no police radar has been able to measure, even three decades down the line.

How not to give this album anything but maximum ratings, without appearing a fool or having a chip on his shoulder?? This is the album that set the blueprint for so many groups to come, that its historical importance is worth maximum rating, let alone the musical near-perfection that it embodies. Blindly!!!!

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#22449)
Posted Tuesday, February 03, 2004 | Review Permalink
frodok@lycos.
5 stars Absolutelly Brilliant. The best among all their work. This is true milestone of music. Here we have the prototype of all the seventies' fusion bands,and a big influence over a lot of bands, including King Crimson, Magma, Zao, Soft Machine, Area, Iceberg, etc....The drumming & guitars are absolutely mind-blowing, even now.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#22450)
Posted Friday, February 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Free form Jazz fusion at its finest. The MAHAV's debut album could be perhaps my all time favorite jazz fusion album. and for good reason. This is one of those albums which clearly grabs the listeners attention right from the beginning chords to the end with their wild mix of intense yet expressive musical innovation. If you are not familiar with the MAHAV's albums then this is a great place to start. Classic lineup way back when was the incomparable talking guitar of John McLaughlin, keyboard wizardry of Jan Hammer, Jerry Goodman on violin, Rick Laird on bass and finally Billy Cobham on drums. This music is highly intense and demands the listeners full attention which reaches heights and musical achievements I still marvel at today. It really is an amazing fusion of rock and jazz forms which will almost certainly appeal to all fans of complex ever changing prog. Mark this one up in the absolutely essential category my friends.

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#22451)
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is my first outing into the Fusion genre proper and I'm genuinely very very impressed. Some of the the fastest, most unpredictable, exiting playing I have ever heard. Those looking for specific melodies and song structures won't find them here. I wouldn't be surprised if the Ozric Tentacles were influenced by this. Believe the hype.

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Send comments to Jools (BETA) | Report this review (#22453)
Posted Thursday, April 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Having done musical apprenticeships with the likes of Miles Davis and Tony Williams John McLaughlin had also played with rock musicians Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and others in the London music scene during the 1960's. He also had a series of solo albums performed with a variety of session musicians including the magnificient jazz masterwork Extrapolation in 1969. By 1970 Mclaughlin was indulging in the sensibilities of East Indian culture and spirituality which had led him to his guru and mentor Sri Chinmoy who christened him Mahavishnu meaning " Divine compassion, power and justice." Upon Chinmoys insistence Mclaughlin formulated a musical concept for his own group and set out to recruit musicians stateside. On drums he had the Panamanian-born Billy Cobham whom he had previously worked with on a solo project, czek-born keyboardist Jan Hammer ( later known for his Miami Vice television work), Irish bass player Rick Liard who had previously played with the likes of Buddy Rich and ex-progressive rock band The Flock violinist Jerry Goodman who added a Folky edge to the line-up. As you might expect the resulting music is almost beyond rationalization whose most obvious element was McLaughlin's distorted, phase-shifted, escape velocity guitar riffing which was cmplemented by Cobham's forceful drum accents and sympathetic responsiveness. The Inner Mounting Flame features musical elements which range from East Indian ragas, rock rythms, Robert Johnson blues, improvisational jazz techniques, European classical music as well as John Coltrane modal stylings played at intensely high volume and speed. Do not expect this gem to be a go nuts John album as was the case with Jimi Hendrix whose influences also show up in McLaughlin's playing. As the title suggests it is the orchestral concept which really makes this album sizzle and everyone gets to demonstrate their individual virtuosity and the harmonies and melodies found on this album are simply mind-blowing. Listen to tracks like Meetings Of The Spirits, Awakening and The Noonward Race to see for yourself. There are breaks in the unrelenting maniacal 17/8, 9/8, 20/4 time signatured and exotically minor keyed tracks in the form of the pastoral Lotus On Irish Streams and You Know, You Know. The only caution this reviewer has for the new listener is that he/she must bear in mind that it was recorded in 1971 and still sounds rather raw even on the re-mastered CD which is the recommended purchase. This album is the template for what was to come in the 1970's as far as Fusion-Jazz was concerned. Essential and definitive.

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Send comments to Vibrationbaby (BETA) | Report this review (#22447)
Posted Thursday, April 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
arqwave@lycos
5 stars there aren't enough stars to classify this record... just a pure masterpiece, a record that sets the standards to everything after, i mean, the backgrpund of all the players is outstanding, Miles, Williams, Getz, Vaughan, etc, you simply can't find a "bad" moment in here, pure jazz-fusion with chuncks and balls, the enlighten path of every song is magnificent, you just have to let go to the music and get mesmerized by it, go, buy it, swallow in it, enjoy.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#22448)
Posted Wednesday, May 05, 2004 | Review Permalink
diddy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars So now I will submit a review for this outstanding debut of the Orchestra. This was my first contact with this band and the first few seconds blew me away. I heard "Noonward Race" in form of a Mp3 and was shocked: how could anybody play so fast, was my first reaction. I immediately ordered the album and was amazed (so Mp3s are ALWAYS a very bad thing and only harm bands and music industry). You get the finest, technically most brilliant Jazzrock/Fusion album there is. And watch out for the awesome Violin played by Jery Goodman, it's the one thing that makes the Orchestra most identifiable I think. But all artists perform on a very high level and it's very unfair to point out one of them (did I? oops...) But there's one thing that obviates the 5 star rating: I miss the feeling, it's too cold, no rememberable melodies. Ok you don't have to have such thing all the time and it's actually prog so you can expect exertive music and you know that you have to concentrate a bit but there's no other prog album where I really need a break after listening to it. It's definitely no album to let oneself go while listening to it. So I subtract one Star, I would distract a half Star but it's not possible and I HAVE to draw off a bit, sorry...

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Send comments to diddy (BETA) | Report this review (#22457)
Posted Friday, June 04, 2004 | Review Permalink
the_tea_club@
5 stars I truly think that anybody who gave this album less than a 5 should sit their ass down and listen to this masterpeice first. I'm into alot of prog rock and jazz and I've got to say that this album would be on the top of my list. This album is FAR and AWAY from all the others. This album is literally insane and overwhelming. Phenominal. Absolutely astonishing. This music will knock you off your freekin chair. This album is a must to anybody who enjoys REAL music.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#22458)
Posted Thursday, June 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Not as good as the diehards would have you think!!!

After seeing and hearing the glowing praise heaped upon this album, I tracked it down in its original vinyl format - making sure I had a First Pressing, naturally!

I gingerly lowered the needle onto the platter, and was duly blown away, as the other reviews here promised, by a full production and gorgeous musical textures. So far so good!

So excited was I at "my" new discovery, that I went back several times for more - but each time, something was lost. Instead of discovering new delights with each listen, I found new disappointments as well; Whatever McLaughlin's pedigree, he uses a lot of bluff and simple repetitions played fast to cover the fact that on this album at least, he had a shortage of musical ideas. This leads to many passages that become boring noodle after just a few listens, the only saving grace being those other passages where the entire band gets it together and hits the musical high, so to speak.

Meeting of the Spirits is one such high point. From the crunching opening to the end, we are treated to atmospheric textures of delights; Lights and shades - especially shades - of jazz rock fusion and sensual parts from all players, except, maybe Laird's slightly boring, repetitive bass. That said, the solidity is welcome, with the dizzying gyrations of the upper parts . However, McLaughlan seems to feel the need to noodle all over the top of much of this. Some of the noodling is incisive, where it attempts to accentuate and decorate the melodies. The unison duetting with the violin produces a wonderful timbre, and Hammer's electric piano rings through beautifully. Cobham's drums really are a treat, and are clearly an influence on the Ozric Tentacles' first drummer, Tig.

Dawn begins in a kind of lounge bar Jazz mood. Mmm. Just how I like Dawn... Again, there is a beautiful melody unisonned on guitar and violin, and the band produce a glorious chilled texture. Then McLaughlan gets all noodly and spoils the mood. The noodling starts OK, but then he puts in bursts of fast bluff and fudged bent notes which the band gracefully relieve - and it is a relief when the band come back, as they bring in a gorgeous jazz groove, with Goodman giving it some gypsy Rose on the violin.

Noonward Race begins with a kind of badly played Hendrix riff, and some awful bluff orchestrated with the drums - really, this is quite nasty. We get a bass riff that wouldn't be out of place in any psychedelic band, and some truly amazing keyboard work - but this is pure jamming, not really prog. Who cares? It's great fusion rock, until McLaughlan goes off on another one. Yes it's fast. But it's bluff - there is no attempt to get with the groove that Hammer was in or create something melodic, dynamic or even musical, it's pure self-indulgence of the worst kind. *Yawn*. It's easy to tell towards the end of the piece that the remaining band members aren't really into this either by the mechanical soulless playing - so it's not just me!

A Lotus on Irish Streams would be a nice chill-out piece if it wasn't for that incessant noodling, Hammer providing superlative textures, and Goodman giving wonderful, aching melodies. It makes you wish there was a McLaughlan "Off" switch, such is the contrast between the sheer beauty that transpires when he is not playing, and the irritating fly buzzing when he is. If only he would play something that actually went with the music...

Vital Transformation - starts a pure rocker, but springs surprises via starts and stops. McLaughlan finally proves that he really can play that baby by making it sing the way I've wanted to sing for four whole tracks - a real Vital Transformation! The band hang this one together in a really tight groove, but the urge to descend into fast bluff is seemingly irresistable, however, as you can feel McLaughlin teetering on the edges of musical creativity.

The Dance of Maya opens with Wah drenched guitar and bass (just to prove to those who think I might not be listening properly that I am!), and Cobham provides a dynamo entry to one of the most upside-down drum beats I think I've ever heard. This is exactly the reason you should own this album; rhythms like this are lifeblood to any progger. The "less is more" concept fully proves its worth, until a bizarre chugging rock 'n' roll style section which, despite the mad time signature I could have done without, as for me, the initial spell is broken. I feel like I was set up for something way beyond rock 'n' roll, and am then presented with something that is merely fringe. As expected, there is more aimless noodling to come... tiny moments of genius do flicker through, but sadly the dance dies, and the directionless dirge lives.

You Know, You Know, is nice enough, but directionless, and Awakening is an obvious attempt to end the album on a high - but again, there's no "shape" to it, only texture, so leaves (me, at least) somewhat unsatisfied...

...but willing to go through it all over again - so definitely not a bad album all in all. I originally gave 4 stars, but because of the horrible noodling I feel that the 4th has to be docked. Really, there's some 1st class material in here, so buy it to satisfy your curiosity and you will not be disappointed.

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Send comments to Certif1ed (BETA) | Report this review (#22459)
Posted Friday, August 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
cookieLmonste
5 stars This was the first Mahavishnu album I ever owned, and I think that it is still my favorite. As a drummer, I am completely in awe of Billy Cobham during the entire album. The ease with which he can play in obscure time signiatures and switch between them never ceases to amaze me. Playing in 9/8 is very difficult to the average drummer; and almost impossible to create a groove that sounds so natural. Billy Cobham is able to do just that on every song. When I say if a drummer is good or not, I consider many things. Neil Peart of Rush is an excellent drummer, but sometimes I get the feeling in his playing that he is just waiting for the next time in the song where he can do a fill involving 32nd notes and all 37 of his toms. It sounds very cool, but when a drummer like Cobham plays I can tell that he is actually part of the music of the band, and not just something that is keeping the tempo steady and attracting drummers as if magnetic to their shows with his impressive, yet musically lacking fills. Don't get me wrong; I love Rush. But when it comes to raw musical talent and complete understanding of what the drums are capable of doing to music, I prefer to listen to Mahavishnu Orchestra or Yes. I should also mention that both Billy Cobham and Bill Bruford use a very simple drum set compared to Neil Peart.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#22461)
Posted Saturday, January 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
TRoTZ
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars There are no words to describe this album. At first listening you won't be fooled around, you'll know you're in the presence of one of the greatest albums ever made. A grandiose symbiosis between rock music, neo classical music, psychedelic jazz music with further elements from blues to Celtic music. First of all, this album is an instrumental. If you think that, because of this, it would never reach a supreme level. you're judging wrong. The diverse instrumental arrangements, the superb playing, very virtuous and strong, offers an extremely enjoyable listen. Particularly I am referring to the magnificent drumming all over the album, very paced with many speed transitions, constituting a true independent instrument (but obviously well orchestrated with the rest), the high skilled guitar playing as well, with many speedy harmonious solos and also the beautiful violin playing.

The album's production is also very good, not resembling at all a 1971 record, it could be perfectly an album edited a few years ago, as you'll not have any sound complaints. Every track is fantastic but my personal favourites are: the first, Shadow of the Moon, where the instrumental explosions, the guitar leading solo and the beautiful main riff impresses an astonishing ambience; Dawn with its skilled and beautiful violin; Noonward Race for more instrumental explosions; A Lotus On Irish Streams because of its emotional neoclassical arrangements, with violin, piano and acoustic guitar conferring a relaxing ambience very enjoyable; The Dance of Maya which has some blues influence; and the climax ending track Awakening.

If you are a progressive rock collector and you DON'T have this album, God how can you live with such a great lack? This album is OBLIGATORY! It represents a perfect odd to symphonic progressive music in the genre of Canterbury/Jazz Fusion. It should not let anyone indifferent to it. If it lets, there's definitively something wrong with you.

My rate: 9/10

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Send comments to TRoTZ (BETA) | Report this review (#22462)
Posted Saturday, January 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
Yankh8ter1918
5 stars Wow...this album is absolutely jaw dropping! Mahavishnu is the ultimate fusion group...Mclaughlin and Goodman's soaring leads and atmospheric melodies are non-human, as well as Hammer's beautiful piano and keyboard playing and hard hitting solo's, Laird's powerful and groovy basslines, and Cobham's drumming is insane...every track is equally amazing but all in different syles to perfection...I LOVE THIS ALBUM, this is a prog MUST- HAVE!!!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#22463)
Posted Thursday, February 03, 2005 | Review Permalink
Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
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

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Send comments to Trotsky (BETA) | Report this review (#22466)
Posted Tuesday, May 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I saw a quote from a member of Yes - Steve Howe I think - who said the only time they came across a band that they felt in awe of musically, was the Mahavishnu Orchestra. If you really, really want to hear guys playing as virtuosos - and we're not just talking individual solos, but improvisation and exchange between the band members - this is a group you should listen to. There's a lot talked about real musicianship but these guys are up there with the very best. McLaughlin (Miles Davis, Tony Williams) was of course the leader, and he had two truly phenomenal soloists to work with - Jerry Goodman on violin, and Jan Hammer ("Miami Vice") on keyboards.The revelation though was Billy Cobham's sensational drumming. There is as you would expect a very substantial jazz influence here. The better tracks for my ears are the ones that are more structured - "Meeting of the Spirits", "The Dance of Maya" - the latter with a climax where keyboards & bass pick up the first coda and fight against McLaughlin & Goodmans wailing tones, with Cobham underpinning it all - it really makes the hairs stand on my neck each time I hear it. "Awakening" and "Noonward Race" are showcases for the musicians but a little chaotic for me. A suprise is "You Know You Know" which I assume was done in one take, as they have - deliberately, I imagine - left in a blooper from Goodman. "A Lotus on Irish Streams" is the acoustic number, a pleasant repsite from the fury of the rest of the tracks. "Vital Transformation" has Cobham racing against McLaughlins soloing. And how does Jan Hammer bend the notes on his (electric piano)? Great stuff.

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Send comments to Phil (BETA) | Report this review (#38101)
Posted Thursday, June 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
kunangkunangku
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Whether it was initially intended or not, this album is widely considered as the gate opener to the realm of fusion (in its original meaning: the no-nonsense married between jazz and rock). It was released only a year after Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" -- a groundbreaking effort. Here five virtuosos jointly create a work that is so dense with furious instruments playing, high energy, yet well planned with a Switzerland precision.

Yes, Jazz is an important element here. However, upon a close attention, it is the rock element that deeply and smartly injected by the band. Listen to John McLaughlin electric guitar improvisation as well as Jerry Goodman's electric violin, both of which executed as if they were riding on a F1 circuit. Their melodies wandering, done within a constantly repeated basic pattern, are no strange at all within progressive rock territory.

And there's the balance between its materials, which overall made this album an all-time classic. As one can recognize upon listening, the band put quieter materials between compositions showcasing breakneck speed unison passages. Try "A Lotus on Irish Streams" or "You Know You Know". These give space to the listeners to completely digest every single sound that had fiercely attacked their ears before.

No progressive rock collection is complete without this album.

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Send comments to kunangkunangku (BETA) | Report this review (#41483)
Posted Wednesday, August 03, 2005 | Review Permalink
fatanky@hotma
5 stars My favourite album, bar none. Sounds better every passing year. I still get a thrill when I put it on, even tried to play along on bits, but most of the album is unplayable by mere mortals. The Steve Vai's of this world should hear how fast can still be incredibly soulful. Masterpiece is the only word I can use. Play it when I'm a veg! Play it at my funeral suckers! Marvel at drums leading in the rest of the band! AW just go listen!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#41914)
Posted Sunday, August 07, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is outstanding. I don't even know how I even got into the Mahavishnu Orchestra. I've been listening to them and John McLaughlin forever though. I wish Inner Mounting Flame and Birds of Fire weren't so hard to find :-( I have this album on CD and first vinyl pressing of Birds of Fire, AND the not so recent release of the Lost Trident Sessions. All great albums..anyway, on with the review.

Meeting of the Spirits - 10/10 - WHOA...THIS IS ONE KICK ASS INTRO!!! I LOVE THIS SONG!! This will definitely blow your neighbor's face off.. :-)

Dawn - 8/10 - Good song, beginning is sort of a "bomb about to explode" ballad waiting to well..explode..and later..it does, which is definitely awesome

Noonward Race - 8/10 - Pretty cool song. Some people don't like the beginning. I do admit it's kind of hard to get used to, but eventually, you'll be like, "WHOA, AWESOME!"

A Lotus on Irish Streams - 10/10 - Complete change in overall mood...but this is definitely a beautiful song. Jerry Goodman, Jan Hammer, and John McLaughlin show off their classical side, this song is a good display of McLaughlin's classical Indian influence.

Vital Transformation - 10/10 - THIS SONG IS MOST DEFINITELY AWESOME. Vital Transformation is just...great. Improv is spectacular, and Billy Cobham is really showing everybody who's boss with his drum sticks. This is a REALLY GOOD fast paced song.

The Dance of Maya - 8/10 - Really funk drenched song. It's hard to tell who's soloing between Jerry Goodman and John McLaughlin. You can't really tell the difference between the violin and the guitar because they play so alike. They double each other really well too.

You Know, You Know - 8/10 - Pretty cool explosive ballad type piece. I like it a lot.

Awakening - 8/10 - Really cool beginning. Nice fast paced song, but this is probably the low point of the album...

Final score - 70/80 - 4.38 stars - Final rating - 4 stars

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Send comments to seabre (BETA) | Report this review (#42209)
Posted Tuesday, August 09, 2005 | Review Permalink
hofer17@hotma
5 stars this is the second record of this group I bought, i had apocalypse, with i think is a great album, but since the first second y heard this one, i was overblown.

this is an outstanding masterpiece, every song is incredible, i loved each and everyone of the pieces of this album. mclaughlin is impressive in the guitar, his speed at the guitar really impressed me, and you also have to pay attention to the drums, one of the best i ever heard, i think even Bill Bruford was influenced by this kind of drumming.

the high points? this album is a mountain without valleys, every song is a peak, but my favorites are noonward race, wich i love the heavy riff-like guitar intro, vital transfomation, with one of the best drums i can remember and awakening, with this song i realized how importan mclaughlin is to guitarrist like steve mose, steve vai, petrucci etc.

this is an album you should have, if you are a prog fan, rock fan, jazz fan, music fan, doesnt matter, if you appreciatte beauty in general buy this album and listen to it carefully.

something that called my attention is that i was listening this album in my car with a friend, neofite to prog music, jazz, even rock, and real music in general, y asked him in wich year does he thought the album was recorded, without thinking it deeply, he answered, mmm maybe in 1998?

this album has not aged one single day, its still sound as actual and original as always.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#43026)
Posted Monday, August 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
franzenjones@
4 stars One of the most awesome wake up calls in instrumental music. We should be proud of this fine englishmans efforts. Could have ended up on the british jazz club scene, or a sixties casualty, but no, maybe dave holland should take credit. He found heaven with the greatest jazzers of all time, few are chosen for this crusade, john has proved himself a musical citizen of the planet ever since, and left us prog rock, jazz funked out hopefuls for dust.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#44531)
Posted Saturday, August 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
eyepond_fores
4 stars Mahavishnu doesn't only offer the keys to understand the music with this LP. The Inner Mountin Flame shows the power of a band (even if all these pieces are McLaughing's one), everyone is excellent. But this perfection quest may appear boring for some people. This is not, for myself, a musicians-heros' competition, and more than and intellectual/technical way to improve, it's a way to go back, to original music, and to make it new by each tune. We don't need to try to understand, we just have to feel it (although subjectiveness of some pieces). It's not jazz, neither prog or rock, it's music, good or bad, only music for those who try to find what they want to feel.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#52283)
Posted Tuesday, October 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Content Development & Krautrock Team
4 stars A grandiose introduction for a grandiose jazz fusion project by Mc Laughlin and his dream team (notably with the virtuoso Billy Cobham and Jerry Goodman). "Meeting the spirit" opens the ballet with a complex, rhythmical exercise and a bright duet between Mc Laughlin technical guitar style & Goodman's original violin touch. After an avalanche of technical solo sessions the atmosphere turns to something calmer with the beautiful & emotional «Dawn". Mc Laughlin guitar solo delivers a touching, melodic texture. "Noonward Race" is a freak out, fast & technical song developed as a jam session, essentially improvised. "A Lotus on Irish Streams" is a nice, soft interlude with an acoustic expression. "Vital Transformation" is a catchy, energic, rhythmical tune with some funky accents and an excellent violin / guitar duet. "You Know, You Know" is my favourite track on this one; a mind-blowing, mysterious composition with a catchy repetitive bass pattern, time to time punctuated by solid guitar solos. An achieved and tasty debut album. Their monument remains "Birds of Fire"

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Send comments to philippe (BETA) | Report this review (#60221)
Posted Tuesday, December 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
Ken4musiq@yah
5 stars In the beginning there was Hendrix and Cream, then there was Deep Purple and Zeppelin, then there was The Mahavishnu Orchestra.

This debut is just as raw as Hendrix and as loud as Deep Purple with all the energy and intensity. McLaughlin used odd meters and changing meters artistically and innovatively; they are not just additive or diminutive meters. The music sounds like it should be in 7/8 or 9/8, or that it should move from 6/8 to 3/4 to 5/8. This is probably the most dissonant album in the rock canon. How do you make a dissonant album? You start it off with a series of diminished seventh chords. Add angular melodies, odd meters and tritones; For best results, turn up the volume. The drummer should use a fiberglass kit and the guitarist a Gibson SG standard; McLaughlin had a double necked SG.

This album might just show the limits of analog recording; the tape always seems to be at the verge of destruction. McLaughlin produced the album. He sets each of the solo instruments, guitar, Moog and violin, in a separate channel; the guitar is in the middle, Moog to the right and violin to the left. (It sounded better when the band moved the Moog to the center for the subsequent album.) There is so much dissonance and distortion that the album comes off like a onslaught of passion that does not let up until the tone arm retracts the needle.

Some of the great moments are "Noonward Race," which starts with a drum-guitar duet, a la Coltrane, and "Vital Transformation" in 9/8. Cobham seems to be able to handle any meter McLaughlin gives him with precision and clarity. I'll leave "Dance of the Maya' up to you to figure out. This was the original album that birthed a movement. It influenced King Crimson, that's why they got the violin, Jeff Beck, who later played with Jan Hammer and Dixie Dregs.

I have no problem giving this album five stars, but the meek should beware. This axe is bolder than love.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#65874)
Posted Saturday, January 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
jmcmurtry@csu
5 stars I'm an old man folks and I've heard it all. And I can tell you one thing... this is the best album of music you can buy, period. Well... Electric Ladyland may be as good. I heard Mahavishnu live and I can tell you these guys were an absolute phenomenon. All those who came later are as children to Mahavishnu. That's more than one thing.... sorry.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#66554)
Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Oh my, oh my... What an amazing piece of music we have here, this album makes me chill every time I listen to it, it just make me want to turn the volume as loud as possible, just to show the people close to my house how beautiful music can be, yes, it's that good.

These guyz or should I call 'em gods? well, these people mix a perfect blend of Jazz, Rock, and sometimes western sounds that creates an amazing atmosphere, and it never stop, from the beggining to the end, it's just infinite aprecciation, a 5 star for sure, even knowing that I like Birds of Fire more, but that's just for sentimental reasons, because both are equally amazing to my ears.

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Send comments to Razorhanny (BETA) | Report this review (#75556)
Posted Thursday, April 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars When Jimi Hendrix died suddenly in 1970, connoisseurs of high decibel sounds unheard on the electric guitar were faced with a search for a new messiah. The The British guitarist-composer John McLaughlin, they found one. Mc Laughlin (b. 1942) arrived in America early in 1969 to join the pace-setting drummer Tony Williams and organist Larry Young in the Tony Williams Lifetime. This new venture fused jazz improvisational daring with rock'n'roll's sheer energy. After leaving Lifetime, McLaughlin became a disciple of the guru Sri Chinmoy, began calling him "Mahavishnu" .. [CD liner notes].

I purchased the 20-bit digital remastered edition quite a long ago and I rarely spin this CD. It was actually an upgrade from a cassette version. But this remastered set is truly excellent because it's very informative and inspiring. Inspiring? Oh yeah . At the first page of liner notes you can read a poem or a philosophy - whatever you call it - by Sri Chinmoy (McLaughlin spiritual guru?) titled "Aspiration". Every single word penned by Sri is a powerful word. For me, having this CD is like owning two things: great music by Mahavishnu Orchestra and great book that inspires me. The soul aspires through the perfection of God's manifestation Chinmoy writes the last sentence of that poem. It's inspiring, isn't it? It is!!!!

Pssstt . intermezzo . by the time I'm writing this review I got a call from my prog guru who taught me prog when I was in Bandung in early eighties. Guess what? His son would get married next Sunday and he invited to attend the wedding ceremony. Yeah! Why bother I share this with you? It's because this gentleman (my guru) is special for me. He taught me the kinds like Mahavishnu, The Flock, Return To Forever, and the like. And most importantly, his son who is getting married soon is my prog mate as well! So he is the second generation of prog, inherited from his dad. Great! And now I'm writing this review of Mahavishnu debut album! What a coincidence! Sorry for this intermezzo - hope you skip it . [Jkt 21 April 2006 - Kartini Day, Our National Lady Hero, 10:45].

Now let's talk about the music. It's awesome overall! It blends all elements of rock and jazz with great improvisations through solos of guitar, violin, drum as well as keyboard. It's ahead of its time. "Meeting of The Spirits" resembles the search of the divine power which John MacLaughlin lerned from his spiritual journey before he formed the band. It blasts off the music in a great way demonstrating Billy Cobham dazzling drum work, Goodman's powerful violin as well as Laughlin's stunning guitar. "Dawn" starts off with a softer style using combination of soft guitar and keyboard. Violin provides its shot excellently. The song moves into higher points with great guitar solo. "Moonward Race" contains heavier elements of rock performed in fast speed. So I can sense how great Billy Cobham is and how fast Laughlin plays his guitar. Electric violin takes is solo job wonderfully. "A Lotus on Irish Streams" starts with an excellent combination of violin, bass, piano and acoustic guitar. No drum is used here.

"Vital Transformation" brings the music into a full speed again with great combination of guitar, drums, violin, bass that sound harmoniously. It's an energetic track. "The Dance of Maya" is another jazz rock fusion which moves from silent part into more complex arrangements. "You Know, You Know" is another relaxing track - this time with drums - featuring soft electric guitar fills intertwined with keyboard work by Jan Hammer which occasionally augmented with violin. "Awakening" concludes the album with another energetic arrangement and the music is sometimes complex. Violin solo is really great. Billy Cobham also plays drum solo, excellently! There is something similar between Mahavishnu music here in this track, especially, with the sounds of Return To Forever.

Hmm . with such a long review plus long intermezzo, how could I rate this album? Five stars is a must! Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#75806)
Posted Friday, April 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
darkshade
COLLABORATOR
Jazz Rock/Fusion Team
5 stars One of the first of its kind. Fiery and fiercely fast guitar with some of the best fusion keyboard work in this genre. This is almost a supergroup, with John McLaughlin, Jan Hammer, Jerry Goodman, and Billy Cobham---all in the same band. Hammer is one of the best keyboardists ever, and he really shines on this one.

So many people have reviewed this album before me, so I just want to mention some things I like. One, is the fuzzed out guitar that John was doing in Miles Davis' band. It's so... ROCK! Yet the music is so... jazz, that it fuses into this sound that is a little hard to describe. Jan Hammer always plays some great electric piano, comping chords like a champ, and Jerry Goodman lays down some nice violin parts, even if his sound is a little 'scratchy'. Unlike his funky solo albums, Billy Cobham is here, rockin' hard on the drums, and his definitive style is already showcased on this album.

This album was important stepping stone in the development in jazz-rock/fusion. Where Miles Davis, Weather Report, and Herbie Hancock would go off into the stratosphere at this time in the early 70s, Mahavishnu Orchestra said, "yea, we can rock out too". This opened up the door for bands like Return to Forever, Fermata, and later on, Brand X. Essential for a any fusion collection, and if you don't have this one, you're missing an important album in the development of the genre.

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Send comments to darkshade (BETA) | Report this review (#85685)
Posted Friday, August 04, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Inner Mounting Flame is a masterpiece of jazz fusion and a testament to the virtuosity of the Mahavishnu Orchestra for all time. It is also a truly progressive album, with the fusing of unusual music styles, complex time signatures, and sustained instrumental effort on all its tracks. John McLaughlin seems to be a fountain of energy, never letting up on his frantic twelve string electric. Jerry Goodman's violin gives a unique sound to the otherwise standard rock instrument set and is an integral part of the music, not just a audio gimmick. Jan Hammer and Rick Laird on piano and bass, respectively, keep underlines going that are harder than most mainstream melodies and are given chances to break out into the spotlight. And Billy Cobham provides some of the most incredible, time-signature defying, manic precision ever heard on precussion. The band's members work as a team, their awe- inspriring talents combining to be more than the respective parts. The album starts off very well, with a firey opener in Meeting of the Spirits. Dawn is also good, but pales in comparison with its followup. Noonward Race showcases drums and guitar in a way that almost seems proto-prog-metal, and for the 1970's it is simply mind- boggling. A Lotus on Irish Streams, as the title suggests, is a slower-paced blend of Celtic and Oriental that is very pleasing to the ear. Vital Transformation is almost, just as good as, or better than Noonward Race, in the same vein of proto-prog-metal and in an unusual 9/8 signature. The Dance of Maya, You Know You Know, and Awakening round out the album in an excellent fashion, but can't repeat the brilliance of the previous three tracks. I highly recommend Inner Mounting Flame to any listener of progressive music. Even for those who do not typically like the jazz-fusion sound, it has the qualities of skill and passion that transcend genres. This album gets the highest possible rating. 5 stars.

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Send comments to Articuno1 (BETA) | Report this review (#87484)
Posted Wednesday, August 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This was my first Mahavishnu album, in fact also my first jazzrock album. This album features extreamly tight jazzrock played very fast. The highlights must be "Noonward Race", "Dance Of Maya" and the diffrent and interesting "A Lotus On Irish Streams". As i said, on some places there's some very fast and technical parts that shows quite clearly what a great bunch of musicians they were. I would recomend others to start their Jazzrock journey here. 4/5

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Send comments to Abstrakt (BETA) | Report this review (#89337)
Posted Saturday, September 09, 2006 | Review Permalink
OpethGuitarist
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Generally lacking in any interesting moments, perhaps I will be flamed for this review, but regardless. This is an output that is good to have for jazz fusion lovers, but what it really lacks is tact.

If I was to point to one album which makes me wonder why everyone can not stand Dream Theater/LTE or other various offshoots, it would be this work, which actually makes DT look good(what a surprise); and makes me wonder why so many hate them, but love this. The majority of Inner Mounting Flame is a roller coaster of techinically advanced playing, with little interest in band dynamics, but rather instead, to merely play something that is advanced.

The album lacks soul, it's cold and distant from the listener, and not cold and distant in an artistic, beautiful way, but in an offish manner. The listener may begin to wonder if this is really an album output or an advanced jam session.

For all the things that people complain about in LTE, the incessant noodling, the lack of powerful passages that capture our attention, all of that can be found here, right in this album, to the tenth degree. Still, most definitely one of the go to albums of the fusion empire. However, the concept of "art" is lost on McLaughlin and his crew.

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Send comments to OpethGuitarist (BETA) | Report this review (#93458)
Posted Thursday, October 05, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ahh..The Inner Mounting Flame...the amazing debut album of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Never have I loved a record so much after just one listen, this one has it all!. It starts out amazingly well with "Meeting Of The Spirits", demonstrating the incredible interplay and technical ability of these guys. I can't really mention any highlights because every song in here is superb in it's own unique way, though my personal favorites are "Meeting", "Noonward Race", "A Lotus In Irish Streams" and "The Dance Of Maya". Most of the songs are led by Mclaughlin's guitar, but there's also great playing by Hammer and Goodman. Billy Cobham and Rick Laird bring extremely precise support for the rest of the band. Who would have thought they would go even further in the remarcable "Birds Of Fire" just a couple years later? Well, enough said. I'm giving this one a well-deserved five-star rating.

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Send comments to Hans (BETA) | Report this review (#96340)
Posted Tuesday, October 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Excellent album from Mahavishnu Orchestra, led primarily by John McLaughlin and becomes a natural extension of his time with Miles Davis. The music is richly and intricately layered forming a wall of sound more akin to Jazz fusion more than progressive genres. The opener ' The Meeting of Spirits' sets the tone for the rest of the album. Other highlights include ' The Dance Of Maya' and ' Dawn'. What a lineup, McLaughlin, Billy Cobham on drums,Rick Laird on bass, Jan Hammer on piano and Jerry Goodman on Violin. This music was the catalyst for so many more Indian influenced sounds like Shakti which JM went on to later join and collaborate with.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#102874)
Posted Tuesday, December 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
billd@charter
5 stars Many will argue that Birds of Fire is the best Mahavishnu album, I on the other hand disagree. Though Birds of Fire is good, you can't get a better Mahavishnu album than Inner Mounting Flame.

Meeting of the Spirits: 7 out of 10. I like Meeting of the Spirits, but it is certainly not the best song on here. Like most of the songs it has some good guitar work. The reason I like it is because of the way it builds.

Dawn: 8 out of 10. The song starts off slow, but then it takes off around the 2:30 minute mark. Some may argue that the beginning is good too. I am not one of those people. When I first played this track I thought it went nowhere, but then I listened to the whole thing one day and enjoyed it. Don't judge this one by the way it starts (don't judge any Mahavishnu songs by the way the start) because it is a pretty good song once you get past the beginning.

The Noonward Race: 10 out of 10. Now the album really starts. This song is one of the highlights of the album definitely. It sound just like the title... A RACE! The song races through six and a half minute of controlled chaos. The whole band shines on this song.

A Lotus on Irish Streams: 8 out of 10. It is another slow song, but what is misses in speed it makes up in melody. It is not the best song, it is not the worst. I like it in it's own way.

Vital Transformation: 10 out of 10. It is just an amazing song. Like most Mahavishnu song it has an odd rhythm. The song is in 9/4. Billy Cobham is the real star on this song. Billy is the best drummer in the world in my opinion.

Dance of the Maya: 10 out of 10. Though it is not too difficult on guitar to play the intro to this song is my favorite John McLaughlin guitar riff. This song is in 20/8 which is the weirdest time signature I have ever seen. After the climatic beginning the song goes into a bluesy riff which I think is really cool. After that section it goes into a guitar solo. It is not the best guitar solo on the album, but it is still really good. Dance of the Maya is excellent. Nothing more to say. You Know You Know: 7 out of 10. It is a very cool opening riff, middle riff, and ending riff. Notice I didn't say, "It has a very cool." Maybe you don't see what I am getting at. The song does pretty much the same thing for 5 minutes not that that is a bad thing. It is a very cool riff, but it doesn't need to take up 5 minutes. I usually change the song 2 minutes in to it. It is still a good song though.

Awakening: 11 out of 10. This song embodies every thing that is Mahavishnu. It has weird ryhthms, a great guitar solo, great drum work, a great violin solo, and a great piano solo that is accompanied by a very cool bass line. This is my favorite Mahavishnu song.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#107356)
Posted Saturday, January 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I can follow in some way what is meant by a small minority of reviewer criticising the dominance of narcistic show-off of technical skills, too much aimlessness and the lack of genuine feeling on this record. Listening to this stunning amazing tour de force and high-speed (actually only interrupted by the relaxing "Lotus.") one could well get the idea that the DT-guys tried to walk in the footsteps of McLaughlin & Co a few decades later. I'm usually not easily impressed and fascinated by virtuoso and self-indulgent solo escapades shown by Dream Theater and the likes but for some strange reason I like very much the work of this Orchestra. Maybe it's due to the presence of violin (which I appreciate a lot in rock and jazz music) or the total absence of any vocals (I much prefer instrumental Prog) that I feel highly appealed by this record. I find it as well very amazing how all the musicians manage to follow McLaughlin's insane pace but of course there are only brilliant guys involved here. But this fact might also be exactly the reason why this work cannot be considered a masterpiece (at least in my view) since too many and too big egos are preventing that. Anyway this one had been an excellent demonstration of artistic skills not only by one of the greatest guitarists in the world, but also by Goodman with his bewildered violin play, Hammer with awesome e-piano, Laird's brilliant bass and of course Cobham's wonderful drums which I'm especially a huge fan of. His Spectrum-album as well as his two Paradox-albums were just marvelous works and must-have for any rock-jazz fan. For this one here I would say a 4-star rating is adequate since for sure it's an essential one in Prog but not really perfect composition-wise.

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Send comments to hdfisch (BETA) | Report this review (#110823)
Posted Tuesday, February 06, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars "Inner Mounting Flame" will be the last Jazz/Rock Fusion album I pick up for a while, I find myself being dissapointed whenever I listen to the "Masterpieces" from this genre.

Inner Mounting Flame is a mix of scorchingly fast violin, faster guitar, keys, bass and drums. The technical mastery here is indisputable, it is a hard thing to do to analyze this album and find a fault in the playing. I guess that is the main point of this genre, to have a album that when added together makes an even number?

But it's cold and sterile, lacking any kind of soul or elaboration on the few good ideas present on the album. Throughout each song, it's the same thing. Play a fast riff 3 or 4 times, move on to the next riff and so on. the piano, guitar and violin are simeltaneously playing different riffs, and it becomes a chore to follow each and become dissapointed at the utter lack of direction. My theory on this album, it was a 40 minute jam session split into parts and given irrelevant names.

If you are one who likes to listen to solos for minutes on end and gape at them, this may be your album. I still prefer the more coherent and finalizing solos from other guitarists, I must say.

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Send comments to OGTL (BETA) | Report this review (#111159)
Posted Friday, February 09, 2007 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars While groups like Pink Floyd occasionally took us on leisurely psychedelic trips to the moon, planets, stars and nearby galaxies these guys were intent on taking us to parts of the uncharted cosmos where even God wasn't too sure about what was out there. I would never dare mention The Mahavishnu Orchestra to the pop-loving layman but, since I'm supposedly among adventurous souls here where progressive music rules supreme, I feel safe in saying that a substantial number of you will find this music very stimulating and enjoyable. (But you might want to send the kiddies and Granny into the next room while you listen.)

Obviously, in order to get to these outer realms of creation where 4/4 time signatures are the exception instead of the norm, one must travel at light speed and the first tune, "Meeting of the Spirits," attains that velocity in a hurry. I must pause here to point out that even though this music is, at times, maniacal and unconventional it's also lyrical and melodic between the intense individual solos so it's by no means just a jumble of indecipherable notes. In other words, it's quite accessible and that's just one of its many charms. "Dawn" slows the pace for a moment as if we've reached our destination but soon we begin to explore our surroundings and the tempo picks up once again. "The Noonward Race" is noisy at first and faster than a speeding bullet but there are planned, structured musical phrases interspersed throughout the song. The rapid-fire interplay between guitarist John McLaughlin and drummer Billy Cobham is incredible. By now the listener could use a rest and "A Lotus on Irish Streams" is as welcome as an oasis in the arid desert. Jan Hammer's piano, Jerry Goodman's violin and McLaughlin's acoustic guitar create a beautiful and peaceful atmosphere. Insane, adrenalized drums from Cobham begin "Vital Transformation" where a recurring ascending melody is played between solos that whiz by your head like renegade comets. "The Dance of Maya" starts with a theme that would fit perfectly at the start of a mutant monster movie but then it morphs into (believe it or not) a Chuck Berry style rock and roll pattern where Goodman turns in a hot violin lead. Then, amazingly, the original theme comes back and is played simultaneously on top of the rock and roll. I would designate it as my favorite cut if it weren't for the next one, the slower "You Know You Know," which also floors me. It's a simple repeating riff with a long 15/4 measure in between where all kinds of interesting things happen. Billy's drum fills are spectacularly tasteful. The last tune, "Awakening," feels as if the whole band got sucked into a black hole because they reach speeds that were heretofore unattainable. However, it was necessary in order to get us back to earth.

As I intimated earlier, this ain't for everybody and even the most courageous among you might find this far too busy and off the beaten path to tolerate for even five minutes. I understand. I, more often than not, am more comfortable listening to tunes that are relaxing and pleasant but from time to time I need to take a walk on the wild side and that's when albums like this one are called for. I am absolutely blown away every time I hear "Inner Mounting Flame" and consider it to be a magnificent achievement by this group that is only surpassed by their next offering, "Birds of Fire."

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#112741)
Posted Monday, February 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album was my first encounter with jazzrock/fusion, and what an encounter! "Meeting of the Spirits" absolutely blew my head apart. A lot of people think the "Birds of Fire" album was their best, but for me, this one exceeds. Billy Cobham sets his snare on fire, Jerry Goodman plays his violin like it's a guitar, John McLaughlin shreds a million notes a second, Jan Hammer stabs his electric piano like a maniac! Oh yeah, and Rick Laird kept the bass lines going through all the madness. Brave soldier! One of the greatest albums ever produced. 5 stars.

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Send comments to sco-bro (BETA) | Report this review (#120304)
Posted Monday, April 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I am new to the prog rock scene, but consider myself a fusion aficionado, and I am writing this review in response to me what seems slight underappreciation. I love all of the prog bands vetted on this site, but without a doubt none equal the viceral intensity of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and inner mounting flame is their best release in terms of technique, but also in chemistry and compositional value. They have an edge which even the best 100% prog bands and the progier jazz-rock bands like Area and S.B.B. cannot match. The Mahavishnu Orchestra has raw soul, and each musician plays to die for the music. Inner Mounting Flame screams emotions at you every second. It is a glorious achievement not to be missed by any jazz/rock/prog/loud music lover who can open their ears. Track by track:

Meeting of the Spirits: One of the loudest and flat out best tracks ever. The opening chords are the fanfare of the millenium for the barbarity to come. On this track, Mclaughlin's soloing is perfect, that Miles Davis quality where every note has meaning.

Dawn: Beautiful ballad. I desperately wish to figure out Jan Hammer's comping. Anything else over these chords sounds either heavy or banal. You also see the real beauty in Goodman's violin here, but once again Mclaughlin's solo is the highlight, and this solo is one of the best ever, right up there with Coltrane on Resolution, Dolphy on Original Faubus Fables, George Duke on Flash Flood, Gato Barberi on Hotel Overture. Perfect arc, perfect structure, perfect song.

Noonward Race: It's Goodman's turn on this, busting out an electric solo to bring the house down. If this track proves anything, other than again being amazing, it proves how tight this ensemble was. Remember, most prog groubs have to edit their tracks to get barely close the unity of this band. Mahavishnu orchestra was all live, and all real. Noonward Race groves with a purpose, like a solid shaft of steel, unbreakable.

A Lotus on Irish Streams: All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a rubato meditation. Mclaughlin gets show off his more raga-oriented compositional side, though this is an Irish song. Its just Mclaughlin, Goodman, and Hammer on this one, but they create immense dymanic contrast, and when they stop to flourish the broad held out fermatas are sublime. Especially of note here is Hammer, doing what he does best, creating a flawless undercurrent to let the solo voices do their thing.

VITAL TRANSFORMATION: No, the caps lock button is fine, and so is this track. Tell me Billy Cobham is not the best fusion drummer ever, and I'll bust out this track. This is one of Mclaughlin's finer compositions, and while the solos are great, this to me is the drum breakbeat of a life time. All of this fusion stuff by the way (Weather Report, Return to Forever, Cobham/George Duke, Maha) predates modern grove music like Drum 'n' Bass and certianly embarasses most modern rock (save System of a Down) with its energy.

The Dance of Maya: Mclaughlin's finest compostion, maybe ever. Based on E Symmetrical and E Super locrian scales (like anyone ever uses those any more), the track is a wonder in 10, dirty and primal. it has two distinct parts, meshing at the end. The first is a sort of grove for the future, even though its a 'dance of maya', and the second is the most demented shuffle of all time. But the brilliance is in their final layering, when both melodies and harmonies are smushed together, Cobham keeing a simple and strong beat, your ears can barely follow.

You Know, You Know: This is Hammer's chances to shine. The composition is pensive, meditative, though the occasional atonal slap is ingenious. Not much to say here, but to relax. This is certianly the most unremarkable track, but most definately not underwhelming.

Awakening: Go out with a boom! Albeit, this is mostly a show of virtuosity. But the solo groves (glorious solos from each member again) are the best on the album. I'm in the middle of a lightning storm. Gotta end the review before I lose power.

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Send comments to Ulyssesm90 (BETA) | Report this review (#126082)
Posted Saturday, June 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
thellama73
COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars Let me begin by saying that I like nearly everything on this record. Why only two stars then? Because the one thing I don't like is so glaringly persistent that it ruins everything else. That thing is John McLaughlin. How this guitarist ever managed to get a gig with Miles Davis is beyond me. Don't get me wrong. The rhythm section is amazing. The keyboards, violin, bass and drums are all played with tight virtuosity and their improvisation is inspired. I am particularly impressed with Jerry Goodman's playing, and that's saying something for me because I don't even like Jazz. McLaughlin, however, is a hack. His solos make no sense at all in relation to what's going on behind him. He just crams as many notes in as he can without caring which notes they are, something any guitar player can do. It utterly spoils the beautiful textures and tight grooves supplied by the rest of the band. It's a shame, because without his guitar work, this would be a really great album.

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Send comments to thellama73 (BETA) | Report this review (#130861)
Posted Monday, July 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
5 stars Maybe the most ground-breaking jazz rock outfit of all times,MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA were an idea of skillful guitarist John McLaughlin.McLaughlin was a very spirited man,admiring the Indian culture, and had previous experience in song-writing having played next to jazz legend Miles Davis.The original line-up of the band included members from the four edges of the world and their debut ''The inner mounting flame'' came out in 1971.The album was trully a shock,as the band delivered unbelievable musicianship and interplays,deeply based on Eastern influences.McLaughlin's rocking' style of playing was in constant battle with Jerry Goodman's violin work and Jan Hammer's Minimoog keyboard,while the three members were supported by Irish Rick Laird's jazzy bass lines and Billy Combham's unusual crazy drumming.If it is hard for you to imagine Jimmy Hendrix-like guitars mixed with Indian music,funk & jazz then you should purchase this album...A masterpiece to remember!

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#145060)
Posted Tuesday, October 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra more or less took the mantle from Miles Davis as the vanguard of experimental jazz-fusion. The Inner Mounting Flame is the band's debut, and I can't think of a better debut jazz album. It's got a distinct sound, great jams, complex arrangements, and memorable melodies. John McLaughlin was an inhuman guitar player for his time. His unique, angluar chords and solos (at high speeds no less) were quite remarkable. The rest of the band holds their own right up with Johnny. The band does a lot of jamming, but they frequently check-in with the main riff or another composed line of some sort to keep from going off on long tangents. Considering the complexity and angularity of the sound, it's rather easy to get into for reasons like that. I don't want to waste your time with more reviewing. This album r00lz and you ought to own it.

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Send comments to Moatilliatta (BETA) | Report this review (#150903)
Posted Thursday, November 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to Flucktrot (BETA) | Report this review (#161897)
Posted Friday, February 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Not as good as the following Birds Of Fire, though, absolutely wonderful by moments (Vital Transformation Dance of Maya, A lotus in Irish streams and Awakening are absolutely magnificent). For their first album, The Mahavishnu Orchestra put on vinyl 8 splendid tracks, with no vocals, and released what is probably one of the most adventurous and beautiful jazz-rock albums of all times. To be listened to...to be bought !

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Send comments to Zardoz (BETA) | Report this review (#162842)
Posted Thursday, February 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars For my money i'll take "Birds Of Fire" over this their debut, but lets face it they are both essential Jazz / Fusion recording aren't they ? Heck you can add "The Lost Trident Sessions" and you have MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA's Holy Trinity.

The first song "Meeting Of The Spirits" is really the only one that would have fit perfectly on "Birds Of Fire", and so it's not surprising that it's my favourite on this record. It opens with explosions of sounds again and again before it settles in, although there is such a powerful undercurrent throughout this track. Goodman's violin really gets things going before McLaughlin comes in firing. Check out the bass before 2 1/2 minutes. It calms down a minute later. The keys of Hammer are a nice touch 4 minutes in. They sound great. McLaughlin's back after 5 minutes as Cobham hammers away. Incredible track ! "Dawn" starts slowly with bass, drums and keys.Violin joins in as the guitar seems restrained yet raw as it solos.The song does pick up with some prominant violin before settling back down after 4 minutes to end the song. "Noonward Race" opens with Hendrix-like guitar, and drums that are all over the place for the first minute. Violin then takes the lead. Keys 2 1/2 minutes in. McLaughlin's turn before Cobham offers up some odd-metered drum fills 4 minutes in to the end of the song.

"A Lotus On Irish Streams" is my least favourite and it opens with mournful violin as acoustic guitar comes and goes intricately. This is a slow paced track with some liquid keys that also come and go. I like the piano 4 minutes in when the violin stops briefly. "Vital Transformation" opens with a mind-boggling drum display as guitar and keys come in. Violin after a minute, but it's the guitar work of McLaughlin that is so impressive after 1 1/2 minutes as bass throbs. "The Dance Of Maya" is a dark song with a fair bit of bottom end. Guitar before 2 minutes reminds me of Fripp the way he makes it scream. A full band sound before 3 minutes. Cool guitar solo 4 1/2 minutes in, and Cobham ends the song in style. "You Know,You Know" feels like everyone is holding back. I like the atmosphere in this one. "Awakening" does not have anyone holding back on it. Haha. Everyone struts their stuff ending the album in impressive fashion. Essential !

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#164181)
Posted Tuesday, March 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Inner Mounting Flame was the second Mahavishnu Orchestra album that I purchased, after a friend recommended Birds of Fire to me. These two albums are some of the first Jazz Rock Fusion I ever heard and I think the Mahavishnu Orchestra is unequaled in this arena. I agree with most of the other Prog Archive reviewers that consider this, and Birds of Fire, essential masterpieces. Here are my impressions of each song as I listened to them:

1. Meeting of the Spirits (6:52) - After a traditional multi-break introduction, and a slow buildup, things start rolling with Hendrix-esqe guitar flourishes, fast-paced drumming, a sprinkling of keyboards, and violin filling in the gaps. Midway thru we have some time changes (and some mood changes). Each of the instrumentalists in the band get to stretch out a bit, Jan Hammer almost gets in a brief solo, then, Jerry Goodman's violin is prominent in the mix before it all fades down to the end. A good start.

2. Dawn (5:10) - Slowing things down a bit, we move into the Dawn. Smooth guitar notes hover in the air above a solid drum & bass track. Things quickly pick up. After some ferocious licks by McLaughlin on the electric guitar, Goodman's violin comes in, almost screaming for attention! Then it all settles down again to a soft roar, before slowly fading out.

3. Noonward Race (6:27) - Race indeed, these guys kick things off so fast you'd swear they had jumped the tracks! Oh my God, once they get this train a rolling, it is nothing short of spectacular! McLaughlin is fantastic on electric guitar and Cobham's drumming is out of this world. Practically beyond words of description. A real standout track.

4. Lotus On Irish (5:39) - This is an acoustic number featuring violin, guitar, and piano. It is simply beautiful. And talk about the stark diversity on this album, especially right after Noonward Race.

5. Vital Transformation (6:16) - Basically a fast-paced all out jam session kicked off with some quick paced percussion by Cobham. The other players eventually catch up to him, almost as if he had to slow down for them to catch him. Once they do, it all takes off seemingly faster than before. Hold on to your hat! You are in for a thrill ride.

6. The Dance of Maya (7:17) - Another great piece, almost "mellow" compared to the track before it. Lots of interplay between all the musicians and at a much slower pace.

7. You Know, You Know (5:07) - Another premier track. This one's different from the usual formula. From whisper quiet and slow moving, it ponders on making the listener wonder what's coming next? Are they about to break out into another musical assault of the ears? It continues on this way, kind of teasing the listener with the tickling of Jan Hammer's keys, subtle violin sounds, soft percussion and cymbals. Eventually some sharp guitar notes slice through the mellow atmosphere. Very unique.

8. Awakening (3:32) - And now comes the onslaught of sound. This time coming from every instrument/musician in the band. Sometimes all at once, sometimes separately.

I would recommend this music to anyone who shows any interest in Jazz Rock Fusion.

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Send comments to Analog Kid (BETA) | Report this review (#181312)
Posted Monday, September 01, 2008 | Review Permalink
horsewithteeth11
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I've stated this before, although I'm pretty sure that it wasn't on this website, that when I first got into progressive rock, the only reason I kept with it was because of a certain few albums that I found interesting enough to want to stick with it. This is one of those albums. It was the first fusion record I ever heard and I was totally blown away by it. The sheer ferocity, technicality, and overall musicianship blew me away within moments of starting it for the first time and they still do every time I listen to it.

1. Meeting of the Spirits - Starts with a few drum rolls by the genius of Billy Cobham and McLaughlin shredding a bit before an almost psychedelic intro draws us into the song. At 1:30 McLaughlin comes in with a lengthy solo, something that is quite common in Mahavishnu's work. Drums and guitar are excellent on this song. Around 3:40 the intense shred-fest quiets and slows down. Great piano playing in this section as well. However it builds up a bit again before the end. Absolutely amazing intro. 10/10

2. Dawn - Soft, slow piano intro with drums providing backing. Violin comes in around 0:45. This is an absolutely stunning and beautiful intro, and easily one. This song has great violin...shredding? Not really sure how to put it, other than the fact that it absolutely blows me away. 10/10

3. Noonward Race - Easily my favorite Mahavishnu track and even jazz fusion song. This is probably in a list of my top songs of all time; it's that good. At times it seems to go back and forth between being 70s hard rock, blues, and jazz. Words can't do this song justice. It must be heard to be believed. Again, absolutely mind-blowing song in every aspect, and no weaknesses whatsoever. 10+/10

4. A Lotus on Irish Streams - Some absolutely beautiful violin starts this song off. It almost brings me to tears when I hear it, as well as the point around 1:50. Songs generally don't make me feel overly emotional, but this one always strikes a chord with me for some reason (pun intended). Great interplay between acoustic guitar and violin throughout the song. Piano comes and goes throughout the song at appropriate times. Absolutely stunning, and one of my favorite tracks on the album. 10+/10

5. Vital Transformation - Kicks off again with a very hard rock feel to it like Noonward. Killer drums, guitar, and bass are a key of this song. And like Noonward, this is a song that I can't describe in words alone. Another must-hear song. 10+/10

6. The Dance of Maya - Starts with a creepy intro that would make Alfred Hitchcock proud before drums come in and...make it slightly less creepy. This song is also filled with very distorted sounds to help add to this creepy feeling. However, McLaughlin's guitar dispels that feeling at about 4 minutes in, and we are treated to more powerful and emotional shredding and soloing, however he does slow it down at times and gives a feeling of great balance and control without losing the raw power he displays so well. 10/10

7. You Know, You Know - This song begins with a very bluesy feel to it and starts off slow before building up. At least that's what one would think. But to me it feels like something is missing on this song. I'm not sure if the band was deliberately trying to hold back or what, but some of the emotion is lacking from previous tracks. There is however a good deal of nice noodling with the keys, which in the end might be what the song was intended for, I don't know (pun intended again). Some violin even comes in at one point and gives us the false hope again that the song will continue building, along with some weird noises, but again I feel that this song never gets that far from where it starts and could have expanded more. My least favorite and probably the only "weak" song on the album, but some of the drumming from Cobham saves it for me. 8.5/10

8. Awakening - The intro for the last song starts with everybody seemingly coming in at once and trying to solo at the same time. Very, very intense here, and a great return from the last song. This is much more in the vein of what else has been going on in this album. Great guitar soloing and great drums from Cobham as well. Heck, all the instruments feel on here, almost as if everyone is trying to get what thoughts and ideas are still in their head out on to the last track of the album. Fantastic, fantastic finisher. 10+/10

Closing thoughts: An absolute must-have record not just for a fan of prog rock or jazz, but anyone who is a fan of music. This album is one of my 25 favorite albums of all time for a reason. The intensity and emotion really comes out very well here and in the follow up album, "Birds of Fire". Although both are absolutely essential albums, I rank this one slightly over Bird of Fire. An absolutely essential album and I really wish the rest of Mahavishnu Orchestra's discography had turned out as good as this. This isn't music; this is art in its purest form. If you don't have it, get it immediately. 6+/5 stars.

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Send comments to horsewithteeth11 (BETA) | Report this review (#190587)
Posted Thursday, November 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
TGM: Orb
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Review the new one, The Inner Mounting Flame, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, 1971

StarStarStarStarStar

The original line of The Mahavishnu Orchestra is clearly one of the most instrumentally talented bands I've had the pleasure of hearing, with the excellent John McLaughlin (guitar), Jerry Goodman (violin) and Billy Cobham (drums, percussion) standing out particularly. This, their debut offering, is a fine example of simply how much they could achieve with a unique cross of instrumental fire, improvisational talent and clever arrangement. The big highlight is the awe-inspiring opener, but the rest of the album holds up very strongly. It is weakened just a little, in my eyes, by the more jazz/solo-dominated pieces, which could perhaps have been done with a little more depth, but overall a fantastic album, a pioneering mix of jazz, rock, blues, classical, funk, you name it, and an essential piece in any self-respecting music fan's collection.

The opener, Meeting Of The Spirits, is comfortably my favourite ever Mahavishnu Orchestra piece, and one of my all-time favourite songs (probably top 20 or so... I don't keep track, but it's there). It showcases everything that made the band great: splintering, blistering solos from McLaughlin and Goodman, a swallowing hammond part, creative, lightning-speed, wonderfully thick and chaotic drumming from Billy Cobham, echoed themes and shared violin-bass lines, an insistent tug from the guitar, new touches of piano or violin you only hear after the fifteenth or twentieth listen. Rick Laird's bass also takes a particularly shining moment. The whole feel is incredible, gripping from every angle, creating a vibe of Indian-temple-fires-and-spirits-and-incense with intense bursts of rock guitar, a jazzy Jan Hammer e-piano solo over a thick background, and even one vision of near-classical beauty. More than music. A physical/psychological/spiritual emotion. Worth the price of the album alone.

The following Dawn is one of the more jazzy pieces, opening with a sort of minimalistic Hammer/Laird background over which McLaughlin and Goodman drift with lightning-paced, short solos and brief bits of full-band-coordination. After two and and a half or so minutes, the piece suddenly picks up with a funky keyboard part and assertive guitar jabs backing a bit of phenomenal violin-work. The original theme returns again towards the end, developed by a bit of low-key Cobham drumming, and the overall impression is highly impressive, with a sort of high-density-low-density-high-density thing going on parallel to a low-intensity-high-intensity-low-intensity thing. Interesting stuff.

Noonward Race is more in the jazz vein, definitely, with a relatively few repeated themes, obvious occasions where everyone is taking their solos (Hammer comes off particularly well), but an insidious high-quality funky groove from Laird/Cobham underpins the whole thing. Cobham, excellent as always, shows his ability to change a drum part's nature while keeping it very close. A bit more wandering and maybe the least tight piece on the album, but nonetheless excellent.

The lush acoustic piece A Lotus On Irish Streams is a show of the rather more tender side of TMO, with personal violin and McLaughlin's unique acoustic stylings, sounding almost like a sitar at times. Laird latches onto and prompts McLaughlin's acoustic lines. Particularly satisfying are Jan Hammer's lovely piano runs and occasional classical-sounding motif within the more liberated, but very appreciative, jazz soloing of the whole piece. The mood, the development, the soloing talent and the wonderful moments of unity within the freedom and taste of the whole piece provide plenty to chew on and digest. Endearing, and excellent stuff. Absolutely great piano solo from Hammer.

An intense Cobham drum intro takes us straight onto Vital Transformation, a blistering whole-band workout with charged thick solos from McLaughlin and Hammer, and an entirely unrelenting but very well-directed drum part. It places emphasis on keeping a strong riff or rhythm going throughout, with all five members at some point drifting down to the rhythm part, but never staying complacent, launching into a solo, a rhythm-altering jab or a gradual communal effort to change the rhythm ideas every now and then. A bit of versatility and complete changes are included for effect. Only really weakened at all by the rather light ending, but nonetheless a triumph of drumming and great stuff.

The Dance Of Maya, a sort of tribal blues/jazz thing, opens with a tense, challenging and gradually expanding guitar part, which builds up slowly, as the rhythm gradually becomes a little less ferocious and a little more upbeat every time the fierce guitar thing subsides, and Goodman dazzles on violin, and suddenly, the rhythm becomes less ferocious and more upbeat and is a BLUES! I mean, ingenious introduction... hard listening, definitely, but so, so rewarding... A BLUES, man!! Hammer offers a bit of blues piano, Goodman a violin solo, McLaughlin something which is somehow too rapid and growling to be blues, but nonetheless works well with the background, which seems to be gradually rocking up again, slowly brutalising the general bluesness of it, until a repeat of the blues idea with McLaughlin now both helping and hindering, going gradually back to the tense guitar but also whirling around within the rhythm. The whole tribal tension is restored slowly, with a blare of hammond and a violin solo before the archetypal fiery blues conclusion coupled with a cheeky guitar thrum on the end. Extremely accomplished.

You Know You Know is maybe a bit subtler and more downbeat, with a weird guitar, violin, bass thing under an initial drum solo and then a wonderfully subdued and unusual piano solo. The slow, careful rhythm has a gradual-revelation thing before McLaughlin's terse, unanticipated guitar stabs begin firing things up a bit. A dash more of basically drum soloing brings us to the end. I mean, really, the thing to remark, is that this doesn't sound like any other 'soft' piece I own. It's got aggressive bursts, but they never even really encroach on the softness of the song... yet are absolutely crucial to it. Very interesting.

Awakening, the closer, is, expectedly, a bit of a solo showcase, with a Cobham near-solo intro, a rapid, high-energy riff thing, bursts of whole-band-just-playing-as-fast-as-possible-but-pulling-it-off-very-suavely, solos from Hammer, McLaughlin, Cobham and Goodman inside the main piece. The rhythm section does some quite interesting things changing around as the instrumentalists are cycled in and out of the soloing spotlight, but Laird's solid presence and unusual twists on the bass part have to be heard. The conclusion, with a spiralling McLaughlin guitar, screams to be heard.

All in all, an excellent, interesting album entirely worthy of the term 'fusion'. Cobham is fantastic, the whole band are simply so damn good at soloing and finding a tasteful context in which to do it that the occasions where maybe the compositions aren't as solid are nonetheless very enjoyable. Preferable, in my opinion, to the following Birds Of Fire, and while it's not quite 'flawless' (Noonward Race and Vital Transformation are weaker than the rest of the album, in my view, though by no means bad), it is a masterpiece of high-quality, high-intensity jazz-rock. Essential.

Rating: Five Stars, 13/15 Favourite Track: Meeting Of The Spirits

Edit: dropped to a four with a big general ratings harshenatificatorifying. Basically, there are albums I love noticeably more, and I'm not really the person who lives and breathes jazz rock - I love it, but it's not what makes my spine tingle all too much. This album does that at times, but not so much at others.

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Send comments to TGM: Orb (BETA) | Report this review (#200547)
Posted Sunday, January 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is my favorite Jazz/Rock Fusion record of all time. OK, so i'm not a huge Fusion fan... I don't own very many recordings from this genre, but I believe the Inner Mounting Flame transcends all genres within the Progressive music spectrum. Every member of the band is a virtuoso and the songs are aggressive and relentless... they catch fire from the first note of the album and never cool off.

'Meeting of the Spirits' is astonishingly good and a classic song that I think ANY Prog fan would like, even if they typically hate Fusion. The soloing of John McLaughlin is bloody intense and emotionally frenzied as well as technically flawless. Billy Cobham is unrivalled behind the drum kit... and all the players are in top form here. By far this is the best song on the album.

'Vital Transformation' is similarly unforgiving and combustible... how this band can hold the music together and stay so tight at this velocity (while making it sound effortless) is mind-boggling to me.

The remaining songs bleed together a bit for me, but there is not a weak track on the album. Still, this style of music can only hold my attention for so long and I can't listen to this very often. While it is definitely THE masterpiece of Jazz Fusion for me, I still can only give it 3.5 stars. If every song were up to the standard of 'Meeting of the Spirits' it would be 5 stars... but such an album would be an impossible feat.

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Send comments to AdamHearst (BETA) | Report this review (#202225)
Posted Monday, February 09, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Truth
COLLABORATOR
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars This is truly some great music! The Mahavishnu Orchestra is probably my favorite Jazz Fusion band, a subgenre of prog I don't listen to much. John McLaughlin's guitar playing is phenomenal! It's like taking every guitar hero in the world and mixing them up into one guitar god! Most of the music sounds like it could be played by a symphony yet this band mixes things up and plays it on guitar. Meeting of the Spirits is one track that sticks out to me, (probably because I'm a symphonic prog fan and this is the most symphonic track on the album,) so if you like symphonic prog like me try it out! Noonward Race is a song that is played super-incredibly fast! Almost like someone having a controlled spasm with a guitar in their hands. Lotus on Irish Springs is an excellent track, very soothing violin playing, and Awakening is an excellent way to end an album. I almost feel sorry about not giving this a five star rating but the music sounds like it is almost repeating itself some of the time. However this is a must-listen to any prog fan!

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Send comments to The Truth (BETA) | Report this review (#217379)
Posted Friday, May 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars What we have here is a case of intense jazz fusion. All five members of the band are more than competent on their respective instruments and aren't afraid to annoy you with the ridiculous amount of notes they can play in a matter of just a few seconds. Over-soloing for the sake of it doesn't always make good music, but the musical lines underneath the soloing are what get my attention most and the primary cause of my positive remarks. The underpinning rhythms make the solos much better/less offensive (to me). The only time I feel it gets carried away is ''Awakening'' where everybody solos at once; it's a little too much for me to stomach, but at least a good chunk of the rest of the song is sound to my ears.

INNER MOUNTING FLAME seems to alternate between louder songs and softer/smoother ones. It starts off with (probably) the most intense song (and my personal favourite) ''Meeting of the Spirits'', followed by a smoother jazzy song in ''Dawn'', brought back to intensity with ''Noonward Race'', then it goes completely soft with ''A Lotus on Irish Streams'', you get the idea. Yeah, it sounds very predictable and formulaic, but give it a try and see if you can make as much sense of the album as I did.

No need to really go too much in depth (track-by-track); I've already tried to explain the dynamics of the thing, the pieces have plenty of odd metres in them, and the soloing goes without question. It's more intense than regular fusion, so that alone ought to make you try it. The best way to see if you'll like the album is to listen to the mp3 of ''Meeting of the Spirits''.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#220431)
Posted Tuesday, June 09, 2009 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars A landmark album from the revolutionaries of jazz fusion.

This album is difficult to describe. All fully instrumental with some of the best virtuoso musicianship you are likely to hear. The music is a fusion of heavy guitar, using jazz metrical patterns, Indian influences and a dash of Celtic thrown into the mix. The music ranges from intense and off kilter with a range of time signatures, to a beautiful and melancholy pathos. There are crescendos and allegros on keyboards intermixed with the frenetic guitar of McLaughlin. There are influences of Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew", the milestone album from the jazz great.

Goodman is a star on violin who plays off Mclaughlin's masterful guitar. The excellent "Birds of Fire" was to follow but this is the masterwork from Mahavishnu Orchestra. Highlights include Meeting of the Spirits, Noonward Race, Vital Transformation and, my favourite MO track, The Dance of Maya.

There are other highlights interspersed in the other tracks but it needs to be listened to as a whole to fully appreciate the innovation and ferociously original style of the band. The album is of course legendary and highly revered in the jazz world and the band have become revolutionary progenitors of jazz fusion.

My one concern is it is very short and the CD does not include bonus feature tracks. The booklet is pleasant to read and thumb through with some great pictures of them in full swing.

Impossible to ignore and highly recommended for jazz fans too, not only those into classic prog albums. I give it 4 stars rather than 5 because it is legendary but not easy to listen to repeatedly due to the nature of the estranged music.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#223178)
Posted Thursday, June 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars My first Mahavishnu Orchestra album - what a nice music! I heard McLaughlin before in different combinations, starting from his old duet with Santana and finishing his fresh live concert in my town with Five Pieces Band. I liked him as very technical guitarist and intelligent music maker. Here I found one more his ability -guitar hero!

First MO album is melted energy, I never before or after heard McLaughlin playing so heavy electric solos. All album is one gem. Perfect musicians, but anyway-it is mainly McLaughlin star hour.

This music is attractive to wide circle of music lovers-from heavy rock guitar heroes fans till jazz gourmans. Very different, with plenty of melodies, rhythm changes, perfect arrangements, but - mainly guitar fusion album.

Never before I thought that guitar can be so important in 70-th fusion. I think EVERYONE interested in fusion,jaz-rock or just guitar virtuoso music should have this album. CLASSIC OF THE STYLE!

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#235311)
Posted Thursday, August 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Inner Mounting Flame" is the debut full-length studio album by multi-national jazz rock/fusion act Mahavishnu Orchestra. The album was released through C.B.S./Columbia Records in August 1971. Mahavishnu Orchestra is the brainchild of prolific jazz rock/fusion guitarist John McLaughlin but features an all-star lineup with Jerry Goodman on violin, Jan Hammer on piano, Rick Laird on bass and Billy Cobham on drums. All five musicians were experienced session musicians who had among others played with acts such as Miles Davis, Tony Williams Lifetime and The Flock. After some years as a session musician John McLaughlin wanted to make his own group which would follow his musical vision. The band name Mahavishnu Orchestra derives from John McLaughlin´s spiritual name given to him by his guru Chinmoy Kumar Ghose.

The music on "Inner Mounting Flame" is instrumental jazz rock/fusion with especially John McLaughlin´s guitar as the lead instrument. Piano and violin leads are also present in the music. The eight songs on the album are all played with virtuosic skill and it´s definitely the musicianship that impress the most on "Inner Mounting Flame". The compositional quality of the tracks aren´t always that high as most tracks have an unfinished feel to them, focusing a lot on improvisational noodling and less on reoccuring themes and melodies. There are a few tracks which appear more like regular composed tracks and out of those "Meeting of the Spirits" is probably the strongest. Most other tracks are vehicles for soloing.

"Inner Mounting Flame" features a powerful and organic sound production with a great raw edge which suits the material well. But for the strong sound production and excellent musicianship, there simply aren´t enough material on the album that´s particularly memorable. These guys are phenominal players but "Inner Mounting Flame" could have prospered greatly from more focus on songwriting instead of endless improvisational noodling. Still it´s a quality release and for those who enjoy improvisational jazz rock/fusion with a focus on playing rather than on compositions, this is most likely a great release. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is warranted.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#239152)
Posted Monday, September 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
friso
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Mahavisnhnu Orchestra - Inner Mounting Flame (1971)

A very special intensive album for its time.

Ex-Miles Davis guitarist John McLaughlin formes his own fusion group with the noticable Jan Hammer on keys and the great drummer Billy Cobham. Still this could have been a McLaughlin solo effort, most songs are based on his ideas and guitarparts. This album could also be seen as the blueprint for the later Bird of Fire, which is often considered to be Mahavishnu's masterpiece. There are simularities in structure. Openingtracks of both album sound an awfull lot the same, so does the 'down-tempo' acoustic track, to name a few.

All compositions are extremely technical and low on soul. The guitars of McLaughlin are extremely dirty for its time and the violinsolo's of Goodman are without taking back. These factors are also my main problems with this recording. I just don't like the junky way of playing guitars of McLaughlin. Sometimes his tones are clearly false, especially when playing together with the violin. His choises of amplification are real overdue and he claimes to much space on this record. Why aren't there more easy parts with subtle drums of Cobham? No, mister McLaughlin takes it all. And he does play like in a blind rage, I really can't imagine another guitarist (I am one myself) could ever accept his bad playing on Inner Mounting Flame. He just wants to much and tries to play things he just can't play.

Conclusion. An exteremely technical album, but not played very professional. Much inmrovement was imminent on the Bird of Fire album, so I'd advice to buy that one first. For this record I have to squeeze to get three stars out of it... I don't think it's that good.. For (1971) it still is a groundbraking record due to its heavy approach on fusion.

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Send comments to friso (BETA) | Report this review (#245525)
Posted Wednesday, October 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars This album sits right behind Magma in my cd-cabinet and the first 40 seconds could easily fool me into thinking I picked up one of the Magma albums by mistake. It's a dark and heavy start, with virtuoso drums, screaming guitars and textured jazz chords, almost zeuhl. But after 40 seconds it clears up, a gentle vintage McLaughlin guitar picking hypnotizes us into a 7 minute journey of swirling guitar solos. This is pure oral pleasure for all guitar lovers.

And the trip goes on, sometimes slightly more laidback as on Dawn, sometimes slightly less inspired as on The Noonward Race. On A Lotus On Irish Streams, McLaughlin's influences from Indian music come to the fore a first time, it is another trademark piece that they would revisit multiple times.

On Vital Transformation my attention wavers a bit. It's sure an overwhelming piece again but the musical backbone isn't as solid and inspired as it would become on later albums. The Dance Of Maya is a lot better. Actually I think it must have been Robert Fripp doing the opening picking here. Easy to see what he was listening to in 1971. The complex time signature and chromatic chords would become a King Crimson staple in the ensuing years.

You Know You Know continues on the main chord progression of The Dance Of Maya. The piece brings a welcome rest point, leaving a bit of room for the other musicians. Not really a trademark McLaughnin approach I'd say...

Based on the quality alone I have to rate this debut with 3 stars, but due to the pioneering influence an extra star might be considered.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#251245)
Posted Tuesday, November 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This, the debut album of Mahavishnu Orchestra really blew the scene wide open. So far, my only real exposure to this JazzRock or Fusion genre is this band's Visions Of Emerald...., a couple of Santana albums, the Bundles/Softs albums by Soft Machine and the excellent Romantic Warrior album by Return To Forever. But none of those albums, with the exception of their own Visions Of Emerald... album, prepared me for this onslaught of innovative onslaught of...... melodies..... which met me when I put this album in the CD player. I was blown away.

I am not an expert in any manner so I refer to the other reviews if you want an in dept review of the music here. I am just trying to describe my own experience with this album.

The music here is at times very, very hard. John McLaughlin shreds on his guitar here like a speed metal freak. This is on the other side of the spectre of the likes of Return To Forever. But the music is still excellent. I can see that the name of the band fits this music like a hand in a glove. The music is based on jazz, yes. But there is a lot of Indian music here too and some North-African stuff too. Just like I envisaged. The album has a couple of lyrical meditation pieces. But the overriding impression of this album is John McLaughlin's guitars. He makes his guitar sound like a full orchestra. The rest of the musicians is really there to support his guitar work. They are first rate musicians in their own right. But I can only hear the guitars because I really love what John McLaughlin is doing here. Sorry, guys !!

The best songs here is the opening track Meeting of the Spirits and the haunting You Know, You Know. The rest of the tracks here are excellent too. I am looking for that dot over the i, but cannot find it. So it is not a fiver from me. But this album may be a kind of a cornerstone in my life because it has finally opened my six senses (OK, five senses then) to a new world. This is an album I will enjoy in the years to come. Now, I am onto the rest of the Mahavishnu Orchestra albums. I have been born again.

4 stars

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#256510)
Posted Wednesday, December 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Taking on the Mahavishnu Orchestra is a tough challenge-- because they're so damn good. However, their instrumental experimentation, intenstiy, and abstract style make them a challenge to connect with; they're very much a "jazz man's" band, and unless sitting through multiple listens to disect time signatures and key changes, or the virtuosity behind a noisy solo appeals to you, "Inner Mounting Flame" may be over your head.

As a casual fan of fusion, I find "Inner Mouting Flame" almost too much. It's noisy, aggressive, and very free-form (not to mention very dated in its production). This clinical feel comes across as being very self-serving, and unless one is into chaotic-sounding music than I advise to listen with caution. It might make you feel smarter when listening, or make you feel frustrated waiting for something memorable to identify with.

For those newly investigating the fusion genre, I heartily encourage sticking to the much more intelligible and classy Return to Forever; however, any fusion journey will inevitably lead the listener here to "Inner Mounting Flame"-- the complex and cerebral highlight of the genre.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: NA Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

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Send comments to Prog Leviathan (BETA) | Report this review (#257625)
Posted Thursday, December 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars What a masterpiece this album is, from the first minute to the very last! From the freakish power assaults to the calmer and moodier pieces, this is pure brilliance!

And what a line-up, has there ever been one as accomplished as this one? John McLaughlin, a god on the guitar, and Billy Cobham, another god on the drums, are the most noticable players here, but Jan Hammer, Jerry Goodman and Rick Laird makes one hell of a job as well!

Every song is perfect, but if I have to choose a favorite, it must be "The Meeting of the Spirits". Another contender for best track on the album is "You Know, You Know".

Essential as hell, for f**k's sake!

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Send comments to SplitEnz (BETA) | Report this review (#261960)
Posted Friday, January 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This first outing by Mahavishnu Orchestra features what is now considered the classic, albeit short-lived line-up of John McLaughlin on guitar, Jerry Goldman on violin, Jan Hammer on piano, Rick Laird on bass, and Billy Cobham on drums. The opening track, Meeting of the Spirits, kicks off with a fanfare, followed by a short calm which builds up to an explosion of sound, which is pretty much unrelenting for the next five minutes. This album is not so much jazz-rock fusion as it is jazz metal fusion. Not only is this band one of the most intense I have ever heard, this album is one of the most intense as well. McLaughlin found a lot of like-minded players who had the ability to deliver. The following track, Dawn, starts slow and peaceful, as is fitting for the mood of a sunrise. This is not to last, however, and high-energy jamming takes the stage once again. Noonward Rage fits its title and doesn't even pretend to have any mellowness to it - the track starts strong and hard and never ever lets up, even though there are plenty of breaks, making a uniquely complicated piece. Following, A Lotus on Irish Streams, does provide a more quiet balance, but even here you find rapid runs, mostly from McLaughlin on acoustic guitar, overlying a pretty melody. Again, the next track, Vital Transformation, overcomes any attempt at peacefulness and rages for more than seven minutes, with a few slower breaks thrown in. Both The Dance of Maya and You Know, You Know slow things down. The first of these two begins slow and somewhat sinister, and builds in intensity, even slipping into a shuffle for a brief period. This build up is quite subtle, and I only noticed it at first when the piece returned to a reprise of its first section. Bursts of sharp blasts break into the calmness of the second. Awakening closes the set with more raging speed and energy.

Solos by McLaughlin, Goodman, and Hammer intertwine throughout the recording, and sometimes it is difficult to determine who is doing what. All three exhibit mastery over their instruments. This is not to say that Laird or Cobham don't have it either, because they do in spades. Laird seems to be the least celebrated of the group, but he not only holds down the bottom end, he wails along with the rest of them. Cobham is given a few breaks to provide short solos.

The album is a milestone in fusion music, and anybody interested in the genre must have it. For those who like hard edged, fast, intricate music, this is essential. If you are looking for good melody and catchy hooks, look elsewhere. Supreme musicianship and a fantastic energy drive this recording.

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Send comments to Progosopher (BETA) | Report this review (#281041)
Posted Saturday, May 08, 2010 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars I might as well come out and say that I consider myself somewhat of a Mahavishnu Orchestra fan which also means that they tend to hijack the top position among the three Jazz Rock/Fusion giants of the 70's any day of the week for me. Inner Mounting Flame was my second exploration of this now renowned quintet and at first it felt slightly disappointed which most definitely had more to do with the effect that Birds Of Fire had on me than any fault of this material.

Anyone claiming that John McLaughlin's writing and performing style is the key factor that determines whether you'll enjoy Mahavishnu Orchestra or not would be completely right. It might come as a complete surprise, to anyone who has read my previous reviews, that I happen to enjoy his style immensely which has been somewhat of a mystery even to me due to my dislike of other guitar virtuosos like Al Di Meola and Allan Holdsworth. I guess that the key difference to me is the way these artists go about in displaying their skill but I'll save you this in-depth analysis for my later reviews. As for now, let's get to what this debut album's material actually has to offer!

The album starts with a grand scale intro that must have been quite daring at the time but as soon as the first sounds of the guitar/violin/drums kick in we immediately see that the band have the chops to back it up and the rest of Meeting Of The Spirits keeps up this tendency in quite a grand fashion. Dawn picks up where its predecessor left off even if the first minutes of the buildup might give a different intuition as of how this composition will evolve. Noonward Race is the first real groovy jam moment with all the members showing off their chops. This type of loose styled improvisation is probably the key to why I can't actually truly enjoy any of the Jazz Rock/Fusion recordings. Still it's far from the worst cases of jamming that I've experienced and, if in right mood, I can even appreciate the effort.

A Lotus On Irish Streams returns the band to what makes them great with this beautiful low-key instrumental showing great attention to detail and mood of the overall sound. These moments of bliss are then rudely abrupted by another jam composition. Unlike Noonward Race before it, Vital Transformation starts off in an excellent fashion but soon becomes just a dull soloing number for John McLaughlin. Luckily The Dance Of Maya adds an almost Crimsonesque touch to Mahavishnu Orchestra that later King Crimson compositions will become known for (only with the much heavier sounding guitars). You Know You Know is another nice low key moment that doesn't really result in anything too noteworthy but instead paves the way for the weirdly out-of-place Awakening which to me sounds almost like a Samla Mammas Manna track from that same era. As always, it's nice seeing Mahavishnu Orchestra branching out and revealing more of their true potential with this performance.

Even if my original response to this album was lukewarm at best it was only a matter of time before the material would settle in and reveal the subtile undertones that I failed to gasp upon my first visits. Inner Mounting Flame is well worth experiencing if you want to get a better understanding for the band that created Birds Of Fire or the Jazz Rock/Fusion in general.

***** star songs: Meeting Of The Spirits (6:52) Dawn (5:10)

**** star songs: Noonward Race (6:28) A Lotus On Irish Streams (5:39) The Dance Of Maya (7:16) You Know You Know (5:07) Awakening (3:32)

*** star songs: Vital Transformation (6:16)

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#289339)
Posted Tuesday, July 06, 2010 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
5 stars After Miles Davis popularized jazz rock fusion in the jazz world with Bitches Brew (no, he didn't invent fusion), it was anything goes for the rock inspired jazz musican. And anything went.

Davis' band alumni John McLaughlin and Billy Cobham, along with keyboardist Jan Hammer, violinist Jerry Goodman and bassist Rick Laird formed the Mahavishnu Orchestra, creating a new form of tight, technical and powerful fusion, that rivaled the music of the best of the prog bands of 1971. It's hard to think that other great bands, like Return To Forever or Brand X, would exist without this group paving the way.

Right from the start, this album blew away the listener with fast and furious compositions and performances. Even the slower songs, which give you a few moments to catch your breath, are wonderfully inventive.

Almost three decades after it's release, I still play this album frequently.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#290467)
Posted Thursday, July 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars As a begginer in the world of jazz rock and fusion, I find this album of the Mahavishnu Orchestra a real gem as other reviewers have already stated.

Certainly the Meeting of The Spirits is one the most gorgeous piece of music I've ever heard, but the rest of the album stays in the same vein. So tight, so well played and crafted, with such intensity, even when the music gets near speed of light, that is almost unbelievable these people can do that. It is like you can feel a spiritual aura or mysticism (call it whatever you like) in this music pieces.

Every musician is flawless along the record, passionate and giving everything. McLaughlin and Goodman establish a real fiery and balanced fight between guitar and violin. I couldn't tell which is the winner, but let me tell you that, furthermore, the rhythm section and the piano arrangements are completely fantastic and full of dynamics all along the record. This is an album that you can't get tired of, so full of details, impressive improvisations and raging passion. The best of the Mahavishnu Orchestra catalog, and maybe the best in the genre (I'll have to investigate further! ;) ).

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Send comments to migue091 (BETA) | Report this review (#306972)
Posted Thursday, October 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is where a five star rating system absolutely fails miserably in rating an ultra masterpiece ablum such as The Inner Mounting Flame. This is the greatest JazzRock/Fusion album I have ever heard and one of the top ten progressive albums ever produced. This is right up there with the best King Crimson, Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd, or Jethro Tull albums that are typically listed as the top progressive rock albums in history. In many ways this might actually be even better. The main reason I say that is when I listen to The Inner Mounting Flame, I not only hear some of the best guitar and drums ever combined on one album but the music produces an energy flow within me unlike anything else I have experienced from other progressive classics. This is particularly the case with Meeting of the Spirits, Noonward Race, and Vital Transformation which are all otherworldly type tracks of musical mastery and perfection that no star system can even hope to describe. Lets just say I rate those tracks at the infinity level. The rest of the album is a minimum of 6 stars. Bottom line here is this an absolute essential album for anyone who really appreciates great music and wants to hear the best of the best.

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Send comments to By--Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#403835)
Posted Sunday, February 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars One of the first of what I think of as the "second wave" of fusion bands - those designed from the ground up to be fusion acts, rather than evolving into a fusion style like Miles Davis's band or the Mothers of Invention did in the 1960s - the Mahavishnu Orchestra are probably best known for this classic album, on which for most of the time they play a fast, loud, and heavy brand of fusion.

From the dark, foreboding eruption that commences the opening track to the end, this is a true triumph for every musician involved. John McLaughlin plays incredibly fast and complex lead guitar, showing both the craft he'd learned in fusion works by Miles Davis and Tony Williams and the influence of other artists working in the same vein - in parts, for example, I can hear a strong influence from Frank Zappa's celebrated guitar solos on Hot Rats. The rhythm section of Rick Laird and Billy Cobham do an admirable job of both keeping up and keeping their hand in the game, Cobham's drums in particular being a forceful and complex treat in their own right. Jan Hammer's keyboard textures and Jerry Goodman's violin complete the picture; a particularly good piece for them is A Lotus on Irish Streams, a rare moment of calm, reflection and beauty in the middle of the fury which is a showcase both for Hammer's piano lines (which at points recall more classic jazz styles) and Goodman's plaintive violin work.

A true cornerstone of the fusion scene, and a key work not just in the discography of group leader John McLaughlin but of every member of the band, The Inner Mounting Flame deserves nothing less than five stars - in fact, I'd say it earns each of those stars twice over.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#486333)
Posted Tuesday, July 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Let's out-rock the rock guys?

I doubt that was the purpose of this project but The Inner Mounting Flame does the job anyway. It's ferocious stuff, pretty much an explosion of sound that wipes the floor with not a few rock heroes of the day - but maintains the complexity we might take for granted in modern fusion artists.

From John's website: "After a Club date with Miles Davis in Boston in 1970, Miles tells me that it's time I formed my own band." Hard advice to ignore and he didn't, pulling in an impressive cast and leading them through high-energy fusion that showcases his rapid-fire guitar, Cobham's monstrous drumming and the violin of Goodman, who keeps up with a lot of the guitar throughout. Less featured in the compositions would Hammer (though his contribution is still important) with Laird quite hidden in the mix at times. Or at least, not often given opportunity to dazzle like some of his band mates.

On to the music itself. 'Meeting of the Spirits' is one of the greatest opening tracks ever put down, with it's ominous opening and insistent riffing from violin and guitar, and along with Cobham blasting away, it's a pretty damn exciting way to start a record. 'Dawn' is one of my favourites, and gives a nice 'half-break' in pace before things rev up again with 'The Noonward Race', which is a feel that's maintained elsewhere on the album in songs like 'Vital Transformation' and the blistering 'Awakening.' 'The Dance of Maya' stands out for it's straight blues section and the 10/8 time signature of its bookends (if I'm counting right) leaving more atmospheric moments to the syrupy 'A Lotus on Irish Streams' or the triumph of 'You Know, You Know' - one of the subtler pieces on the album, an effective, memorable and really quite gentle piece.

As to how 'prog' this album is (in a 'classic' or a symphonic sense for example) is clear - not very. But if you accept an idea of music being 'progressive' in any stylistic framework, then this album is progressive in its aggressive fusing of rock and jazz, something that had been hinted by other bands prior to 1971 but not developed to this level. Any fan interested in jazz fusion ought to at least be familiar with this landmark album. Five stars.

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Send comments to dreadpirateroberts (BETA) | Report this review (#609095)
Posted Friday, January 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
4 stars Here is a fine example of what really defines the term progressive! By 1969, the musical world was still blues-rock based, short poppy tunes aimed at the dance floor or the airwaves and generally comprised guitar, bass, drums and organ with a strong focus on vocals. With the advent of new technology (synthesizers) and the introduction of old school instruments (violin, sax) played by serious and young music students who were attracted by the counterculture (yes, sex, drugs and rock 'n roll), the sonic universe leapt mightily forward, progressing towards new unattained horizons. This is where the term 'progressive rock' came from (sorry, had to state it!).

With a gifted and original guitarist such as Englishman John MacLaughlin , a masterful genius of technique and tone, a muscular drummer in Billy Cobham from Panama , keyboard whiz and Czech refugee Jan Hammer , master American violinist Jerry Goodman and bassist Rick Laird from Dublin, Eire , this Mahavishnu Orchestra simply devastated that nascent scene with sheer bombastic virtuosity and uncommon flair. They remain arguably one of the pioneering bands of the new rock movement, blurring the line between Rock, Jazz, Pop and creating what is now universally known as 'fusion'. Not surprising that Carlos Santana would unite with MacLaughlin, as the Chicano fretmeister would soon espouse the teachings of guru Sri Chinmoy and search for the 'Emerald Beyond'!

This monumental recording was the first installment of a series of colossal Mahavishnu Orchestra recordings (Birds of Fire and Visions of the Emerald Beyond are of course legendary) and sounds as devastating in 2012 as it did in 1971 when it took the world by storm. I remember the shock and awe of its appearance on turntables and the blizzard effect it had on young impressionable music fans. One word = disbelief!

No time is wasted on pretty intros, 'Meeting of the Spirits' has that same wondrous feel that permeated Santana's Caravanserai, slithering carpets of synths and polyrhythmic drum jubilation that lay the foundation for John to flutter over his electric guitar, the violin in tow. Hammer's e-piano revels in the mid-section showing clearly that he is no electronics-only wizard, as he is shamelessly playing tag with Goodman's screeching instrument. The precious fragility of 'Dawn' is there to behold, a dreamy and elegant instrumental lament that conjures images of an awakening sun, soon to be bold. At the time, no one outside of Hendrix played such a dizzying style of e-guitar, blessed with demonic speed and insane diversity that pioneered more than a few future maestros. Precious loveliness.

'Noonward Race' is just like the title implies a speed freak jam with frantic and exalted soloing from Goodman, Hammer and the Mac himself. All of course delivered at Indy 500 velocity and Swiss timing precision. Cobham is a whirling drum dervish, using his Gatling gun technique to devastating effect, as he did throughout his MO career.

'A Lotus on Irish Streams' is a serene Chinmoy (pun) reprieve, gently bucolic, pastoral and aromatic. Mac prefers using his acoustic talents with the violin coasting its slithering beauty amid the pooling piano rivulets. Meditative and ponderous.

Things get scorching and sweaty again with the forceful 'Vital Transformation', where loopy pyrotechnics are propelled monstrously by skillful drumming and careening guitars, all at quasi-supersonic speeds. The musical definition of delirium if I ever heard one! I could only imagine the shock when listeners first hooked up with this vortex of bewilderment!

'The Dance of the Maya' releases an electrified slinky riff that suggests both historical doom and dense vegetation, furious guitar clanging entwined with agonizing violin that suddenly erupts into a bluesy e-piano led funk. Cobham bashes away in an unusual sweaty manner, cymbals ablaze whilst John's guitar races wildly within a lightning blitzed furrow that addresses both the past and the future brilliantly. Relentless, obsessive and utterly manic.

My fave 'You Know, You Know' is obscurely remote and suave, groovy e-piano, shuffling drums and a repetitive bass figure set the tone for a slow-developing MacLaughlin scratch that veers on the sublime, a sensational and original moody jam that thrills in its lack of blistering notes.

The teetering between tame and wild continues with a preposterously boisterous finale that will wake you up by its sheer maximum velocity and artistic dexterity. The musicians demonstrate true jazz tendencies, each creating their own sonic bubble and when called upon, stellar on-a-dime interplay. John unleashes a blazing solo that defies logic in time and space and Cobham turbocharges ahead like some percussive locomotive.

Scary stuff that will develop into two future masterpieces.

4 clandestine flares

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#777028)
Posted Sunday, June 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars And here is another, and the last (or last but one) Mahavishnu Orchestra album that I have recently purged from my active collection.

The complaint is the same as with the Birds of Fire: way too much noise. A neurotic guitar dueling with a psychotic violin, accompanied by chaotic drums. An overwhelmingly oppressive, jagged soundscape. This kind of music might have felt (to some) like a revolution in the 1970s, but now, 40 years later, the Inner Mounting Flame simply doesn't cut it any more. A riot, tops.

It's interesting to note that Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and some other best-loved virtuosi of fusion, who played very inventive and vigorous, yet perfectly normal (as in "not crazy") music in the 70s, and who still come up with great records, for some reason have not made it into the Progarchives' Top 100.

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Send comments to Argonaught (BETA) | Report this review (#918751)
Posted Sunday, February 24, 2013 | Review Permalink

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