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Mahavishnu Orchestra - John McLaughlin & Mahavishnu: Adventures In Radioland CD (album) cover


Mahavishnu Orchestra

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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The Owl
2 stars Had a rough time with this one, between that horrid 80's glossy digital production, the obnoxious Simmons electronic drums, mostly weak compositions and trying to have it both ways (be radio-friendly and be adventurous) but not succeeding on either count.

A couple things I will say though to it's credit:

1) Johnny Mac dumped that annoying Synclavier Guitar.

2) There actually were a couple songs that were significantly improved and became polished gems later on in the John McLaughlin Trio ("Florianapolis", Reincarnation"). "20th Century Limited" is a good track too. If only the whole album was this good.

Report this review (#22531)
Posted Tuesday, November 25, 2003 | Review Permalink
2 stars If you tune into this one expecting more blistering, lightspeed, 1000 MPH, fret melting guitar work from the resident guitar guru then you're in for a major let down. This is John McLaughlin's second attempt in the 1980's to resurrect the Mahavishnu name and despite the array of electronic equipment employed, from drum interfaces to digital synths, there are only brief moments of false hope here. Apart from some occassional speed riffing on both electric and acoustic guitars these compositions really go nowhere. Virtuoso bass player Jonas Hellborg with whom Mclaughlin toured with as a duo and ex- Miles Davis sax man Bill Evans can't even save the day . At best this album is only mildly interesting for the curious.
Report this review (#22532)
Posted Sunday, March 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Adventures In Radioland" would test you whether or not you can suit in the music this album offers. Even if this is not the kind of music you might expect how far you can go to tolerate this offering, accept it as is and try to understand how John McLaughlin and Friends express their feelings, emotions and thoughts into music. Or, you might need a very special mood to comprehend this album. Oh well . this is almost all a musical exploration where some tracks sound like jamming session featuring soloists.

This album represents the band's musical adventures into different kind of music compared to their early years in the seventies. The line-up is completely different, leaving only John McLaughlin in the center. This is something similar with King Crimson where only Robert Fripp (guitar) serves as pinnacle of the band's progression. John McLaughlin brought Bill Evans (keys/sax) in the band plus other high caliber musicians like Mitchel Forman, Jonas Hellborg and Abraham Wechter (acoustic guitar). The music is very similar with Weather Report or Bill Bruford's Earthwork or Brand X. One song "Jozy" is dedicated to Joe Zawinul of Weather Report. That explains why the music is somewhat similar with Weather Report. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#98482)
Posted Sunday, November 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album, definetly not their best. It took their musicianship out of the picture and put in the digital age. Sythns, some over production. Other than the fact that their talent has been diminished by newer equipment, you can still tell its them. My favorite track on here is That Wall Will Fall. Its probably the best on the album IMO. But after a while of listening to the album to find if i was missing something essential, i got tired of it. Although, this is the case that if this album would have come out from a new band that no one knew, this would have been indeed a good album. Its just the fact that they have been known to really melt some faces with some high class Jazz Rock.
Report this review (#127735)
Posted Friday, July 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars McLaughlin tried to use once again Mahavishnu Orchestra fame for marginal record (recorded and released originally in Italy). Not very successful action, though.

Even if musicianship there is of high level (technically), it hardly goes far than just musicianship itself. Plenty of electronic keyboards, polished sound, flirting with pop- electronics, even hip-hop rhythms, light sound, some old jazz-tricks - explosive combination, not very unusual for 80-s though.

As a result, you have something in between of easy jazzy listening, some bombastic, but out of place keyboards, guitar attacks, borrowed from archives, and common very cheesy feeling. Bil Evans, Jonas Hellborg participation and few funky grooves doesn't help. Release for collectors mainly.

Report this review (#277604)
Posted Monday, April 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars This was the second album by the 1980's "Mahavishnu" (notice no orchestra in the name) band. There are some fine musicians in the group, but I still get the feeling that the name was used as a cynical was to just sell records. McLaughlin's performance is good, as are the performances of some of the sidemen, especially Bill Evans and Mitchel Forman. Where the album lacks is in composition. Where the classic seventies Mahavishnu Orchestra albums excelled was in the bold and exciting, and extremely powerful jazz rock fusion. None of those adjectives would I attach to this album, which appears to be an effort to cash in on Pat Metheny's success with light, airy guitar fusion. There is even a preponderance of that breathy synth sound that Metheny was overusing in the 80's.

At least it's better than Inner Worlds

2.5 stars.

Report this review (#292157)
Posted Tuesday, July 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars The first album I heard them was the "Birds of Fire", then "The Inner Mounting Flame". Very good indeed, I thought, but then I heard this album... "Adventures In Radioland". What happened? I do not know. Ten songs and the cover photo of an expert guitarist "John McLaughlin". It was then that I realized, it was not necessarily an album by "Mahavishnu" but kind of a partnership ... because taking the aforementioned guitarist, all other members have changed. "Jonas Hellborg" is a competent musician, solo career and partnerships considerable quality. I do not have much to say other musicians, but by what I heard the keyboard and saxophone played down the grief of this work. I find hard to highlight some music when the album in general proved to be bad for me. With all due respect the figure of a "McLaughlin", but it seems that he is a guest artist than necessarily the person who exposed his name on the album cover. The instrument that stands out most in the whole album for me is the saxophone, or "Bill Evans", then according to the perspective, The album can best be improved or not, but how dare mention "Mahavishnu" ... was much lower than expected. "The Wait" tracks and" Half Man, Half Cookie" has a walk through the square, dull. Highlighted some positive? Some lesson? Good musicians do not always mean a good album ... and what was to be called adventure became a regret, disappointment...
Report this review (#745253)
Posted Friday, April 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
3 stars The 1980s were not kind to 70s pioneers of prog and jazz as the decade was one of the most engineered in terms of steering musical styles away from anything remotely similar to the decade before, at least in terms of major labels and what musical innovation that did come about gurgled up from the underground which gave rise to the alternative and experimental 90s to come. John McLaughlin was no exception as a former innovator stumbling around in the dark as his once forward thinking innovation had been supplanted by trying to keep up with the current trends, in his case fortifying his once feisty and innovative jazz-fusion with cheesy 80s synthesizer sounds which may have sounded good in the context of new wave and synthpop but somehow failed to capture the essence of the soul of what jazz-fusion represented.

After doing the unthinkable and resurrecting the MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA name albeit with the truncated moniker MAHAVISHNU, McLaughlin released a couple of albums that sounded like nothing from his 70s tenure. Apparently following in the footsteps of other jazz artists dabbling in the world of synthesizer jazz in the vein of Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis and more successfully Pat Metheny, McLaughlin startled his fanbase in 1984 with the release of the self-titled MAHAVISHNU album which showcased a synth-based approach which adopted some of the worst sounds the 80s had to offer and disgracing his canon with a rather lifeless limp representation of theoretical ideas that just didn't quite work out in practice. The album was panned and has been all but forgotten but McLaughlin was a determined one and decided to dabble in this stylistic approach for yet one more album.

Always basking in self-glory with the tagged on "with John McLaughlin" that was featured on the early MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA albums as well as with Shakti, technically speaking the 7th album ADVENTURES IN RADIOLAND of this once excellent group was released under the name JOHN McLAUGHLIN AND MAHAVISHNU and emerged three years after the previous effort with a new cast of characters beckoning to McLaughlin's oft misguided whims. Out was original drummer Billy Cobham who attempted to make amends for past skirmishes but found the experience a bit underwhelming and in was drummer Danny Gottlieb, one of the founding members of the Pat Metheny Group who provided some of the newer stylistic approaches that McLaughlin adopted presumably hoping to cash in on the lighter and airier sounds that 80s jazz-fusion was implementing. The rest of the band remained the same as "Mahavishnu" with Jonas Hellborg on bass guitar, Bill Evans on saxophone and keyboards and Mitchel Forman exclusively on keyboards.

The self-titled MAHAVISHNU album sounded very much like a rough draft as the band stumbled upon one style after another but never really latched onto anything tangible despite a few worthy tracks. After three years of establishing a more uniform stylistic approach, ADVENTURES IN RADIOLAND proved to be a much more developed continuation of this 80s synth-based jazz-fusion sound albeit very much in the theme of the more chilled out approach of the Pat Metheny Group. Despite McLaughlin's outstanding success of the prior decade, he had clearly fallen out of the relevance pool and struggled to find any label that would release ADVENTURES IN RADIOLAND but finally found a sympathetic ally with the Wounded Bird Records, a fitting title for the mastermind behind the classic masterpiece "Birds Of Fire" which once flew so high and mighty that like Icarus seemed to have flown too close to the sun only to have his wings suffer a serious meltdown.

Perhaps one of McLaughlin's least known albums of his massive productive career, ADVENTURES IN RADIOLAND is actually a step up in quality and cohesion from the lackluster "Mahavishnu" that preceded it. Unlike that album, this one showcases a return to excellent instrumental interplay with John's feisty guitar style coming back to life along with excellent keyboard runs form Forman made all the more jazz worthy with Bill Evans' talented saxophone works. The tracks are all distinct from another and the return to jazz-based compositions instead of souped up funk was indeed a wise choice as the album does delve into the extremities of traditional jazz and flamenco styles.

Surprisingly ADVENTURES IN RADIOLAND holds up quite well as a uniform and consistent listening experience although the over reliance on drum machines and synthesizers gives the album a dated feel that feels a bit hollow and sterile. The production is particularly shoddy with that thin tinny sound notorious of mid-80s releases. While not nearly as detestable as the 1984 precursor, this followup nonetheless suffered from an over reliance on Metheny copycatism and electronic drum overload. While compositionally sound, this album unfortunately was not worthy of falling under the MAHAVISHNU moniker and has been all but forgotten as new generations discover the magnificence of the band's first lineup and earliest masterpieces. While not a bad album and even fantastic on tracks such as "Florianapolis," The Wall Will Fall" and "Mitch Match," ADVENTURES IN RADIOLAND only excels in creating a moment in time that made true disciples of the mighty MAHAVISHNU scratch their heads in dismay. Interestingly good but by no means essential. This would be the end of the road for anything MAHAVISHNU related until the archival release of "The Lost Trident Session" emerged in 1999.

Report this review (#2486310)
Posted Sunday, December 20, 2020 | Review Permalink

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