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John McLaughlin

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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John McLaughlin Devotion album cover
4.02 | 68 ratings | 8 reviews | 24% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Marbles (4:05)
2. Siren (5:55)
3. Don't Let the Dragon Eat Your Mother (5:18)
4. Purpose of When (4:42)
5. Dragon Song (4:13)
6. Devotion (11:25)

Total time: 35:40

Line-up / Musicians

John McLaughlin - guitar
Larry Young - organ & electric piano
Billy Rich - bass
Buddy Miles - drums & perc

Releases information

Recorded at Record Plant Studios, New York City, February 1970.
Produced by Alan Douglas & Stfan Bright

1970 LP
Douglas 4
Epic KZ 31568
CBS DGL 65075
Douglas DGL 65075 (GB)
Columbia DGL 31568 (US)
Douglas 64537 (Holland)
Celluloid OAO 5010 (US)
CBS DGL 65075
CBS-Sony ECPL 59
Celluloid CEL.N.Y.5506 (US)
IRS 972.506 (WG)
Celluloid CELD 5010

CD ''Marbles'', Brook Records (2006), has different cover and order of songs

Thanks to Aesh for the addition
and to NotAProghead for the last updates
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Buy JOHN MCLAUGHLIN Devotion Music

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN Devotion ratings distribution

(68 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(24%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(47%)
Good, but non-essential (26%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN Devotion reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Do you ever get the feeling some albums are simply a free for all for shady and less shady labels? I have seen this album released in at least a dozen different versions on some of the most dubious label with different artwork, none fitting the original one. And of course as you'd figure when such is the case, the Charly label is involved, and it is the version I have, graced with a picture of John in the mid-80's. This is really a bit sad because this album is a real scorcher, one of the rockier releases of McLaughlin's lengthy career.

And believe me, when I say scorcher (but not flawless), this is a real one keeping in mind that we are in the jazz-rock mould, but sometimes it sounds like jazz-metal. John has assembled a stellar cast around him including Buddy Miles (Santana, Hendrix etc.), Larry Young (the great organist in Tony Williams' Lifetime, whom he hooked up with after his two album stint with them) and lesser-known Billy Rich. Jerry Goodman (ex-The Flock and future-MO) is also helping out after the previous My Goal's Beyond. But these guys rock your brains out even if there are some lengths. This album comes also after the two albums he'd done with Miles Davis (Bitches Brew and Tribute To JJ). However at the speed these guys were recording albums (three solo for McLaughlin this year, plus his other projects), there are some misses and the messy (shoddily recorded) Siren is just one example. A torrid piece, but wasted by inappropriate recording.

Tracks like the 11-min+ title track are awesome in its power and tension and not a second is wasted. Clearly on all tracks, virtuosity is the key word, but no one commits the blunder of indulgence either and the whole group maintains a much-needed tightness when this type of music is recorded. If Dragon Song is yet another hard-driving guitar track, the following Marbles is a more reflective one where Young's organs plat first role with McLaughlin's lightning fast guitars having trouble to surface, but the interplay between the two is awesome. The rest of the tracks are still of the same calibre of the first few on the first side of the vinyl.

I have heard some purists dismiss this album as a collection of jams (some of the song's abrupt ends and sudden shifts give this theory some credibility), and if such was the case, these guys were among the bests ever. McLaughlin's next step was to form the superb and famed Mahavishnu Orchestra, which would keep him occupied for a while. But while this album is miles away from MO, it is no less essential for McLaughlin fans.

Review by Easy Money
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars This album will probably be categorized as jazz-fusion since it is a McLaughlin album, but psychedelic space-rock might better describe this album. Space rock with some blues and modern jazz influences to be more exact. If you are looking for something totally different by McLaughlin this might be a good place to look.

The big difference is the rhythm section, instead of the usual hyper players you would expect from a McLaughlin record you get the hard-rockin laid back groove of Buddy Miles and Billy Cox. I have heard that this was supposed to be a Hendrix session, but since he passed away the date was filled by McLaughlin. That would explain the presence of Cox and Miles, as well as Larry Young. Young had worked with McLaughlin before in several bands, but had just started working on some jams with Jimi in his last months.

Larry Young brings a lot to this project. Although he is capable of searing jazz runs, he adjusts his playing on this record to rich psychedelic bluesy chord clusters and shifting tone bar effects. He makes the perfect accompanimist and solo reply to McLaughlin throughout the record. The producers also add a lot of phase shifting and echo to the mix that gives the whole album a distictive early 70s sound.

Although a lot of the grooves are laid back, McLaughlin's playing really burns as usual, only this time his solos have more room to breathe. Another interesting thing about this album is that some of the melodies used here show up on later Mahavishnu records.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. I have to say that John McLaughlin's first two solo albums ("Extrapolation" and "Devotion") are simply outstanding. Very different from each other but both are amazing recordings. Since the debut John has flown over to America and been playing not only with Tony Williams but he's been jamming with Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Miles (Hendrix's Band of Gypsys), Larry Young and Buddy Rich. That is significant because all but Hendirix and Miles are on this album from that group, and you know that those jams influenced greatly the music that is on this album. In fact many have called "Devotion" too much of a wank-fest (pointing their finger right at McLaughlin). Yes John offers up a galore of guitar solos on this one which made me think of MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA at times.

"Devotion" is my favourite track. How amazing is this tune ? A nice heavy intro as the organ joins in. McLaughlin is putting on a light show here. It settles some after 5 minutes.The organ becomes the focus before 7 minutes until the guitar returns after 9 minutes. "Dragon Song" has an uptempo beat as the organ pulses and the guitar makes some noise. McLaughlin soon becomes the focus as he rips it up early and often. What an instrumental display here ! So impressive.

"Marbles" opens with some atmosphere until the song kicks in with drums leading the way before a minute. Guitar then organ join the driving the beat. Check out McLaughlin ! Scorching guitar 3 1/2 minutes in. "Siren" is bluesy with the organ out front early. This changes around the 2 minute mark as we get a full sound with guitar out in front. "Don't Let The Dragon Eat Your Mother" is led by the organ then the guitar takes over as drums pound. A calm 3 minutes in as the organ floats to the end. "Purpose Of When" opens with bluesy guitar then he just starts to solo laying a trail of fire until the song is over. Not worthy !

A must for McLaughlin fans out there.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One of early McLaughlin solo album is really interesting one! Whenever it was released in 1970 - a great year for first generation of guitar heroes, as Santana or Hendrix, you will feel there this atmosphere perfectly.

Buddy Miles, former Hendrix Band of Gypsy's drummer, add much to common sound. The music there is heavy and psychedelic jazz-rock, with fast, energetic and very "rock" sound of McLaughlin guitar. Long jam-like solos are perfectly supported by drums and keyboards.

Soft and jazzy McLaughlin guitar technique is easy recognizable, but in all other this album could be just another Hendrix work. One of classic McLaughlin's album, must have for every this great guitarist's fan.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars John's second solo album but first to be recorded in and released from the United States (Douglas Records). It featured a lineup that included organist Larry Young (with whom he'd been playing for six months in Tony Williams' Lifetime power trio), Billy Rich on bass, and former member of Electric Flag and Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys drummer, Buddy Miles. John immediately distanced himself from the album when during its publication phase as he was disappointed in the way producer Alan Douglas "destroyed" the music when mixing the songs down in John's absence.

1. "Marbles" (4:05) slow build with shimmering organ and bird sounds echoed from John's guitar turns into another monstrously engaging SANTANA-like groove with a bit of a Latin feel to it over which John rips and rents holes in the sky. Larry's organ in support is so perfect: so strong and melodic. The rhythm section is doing their job but nothing very "out of the box" for the first three minutes. (8.75/10)

2. "Siren" (5:55) based on an old feeling blues tune, the heavily-effected bass, organ and guitar are so far beyond the distorted effects Alan Douglas employed to some of Jimi Hendrix's stuff! Great guitar play but probably my least favorite song on the album. (8.666667/10)

3. "Don't Let the Dragon Eat Your Mother" (5:18) a nice, steady, hard-drivin' blues rocker of the Mahavishnu kind with Larry playing both organ and electric piano beneath John's fiery heavily-treated NEKTAR "Journey to the Centre of the Eye"-like guitar. The song meanders around space in its psychedelic LSD trip way, especially when Larry and Buddy are given the solo time at the very end. The problem is: I really like it! (9.75/10)

4. "Purpose of When" (4:42) very bluesy (and very loud) guitar and organ played over plodding bass and drums while Larry's organ and electric piano support from behind. The music may not be great but John is lit! He is burning white hot from the inside out! A difficult song to assign a rating for since the music isn't that great, but John's performance is absolutely jaw-dropping. (9/10)

5. "Dragon Song" (4:13) sounds as tension-building as some of Hollywood's best soundtracks but is perhaps a little too loud and dynamic, but man is John cooking! And Larry holding the Earth still as best he can beneath. Great use of the wah and delay pedals as well. Larry's time in the final minute is too little too late especially with the big finish at the end. (9.25/10)

6. "Devotion" (11:25) great multi-track dynamic play over addictive (and stellar) bass and drum play. I can't say that Larry's contributions are half as remarkable as Johns, but that's okay. This is John's album. Still, he's pretty good in the seventh and eighth minutes (just not as amazing as he is on Love Devotion Surrender or Lenny White's Venusian Summer). (19.25/20)

Total time: 35:40

I find the quartet so much more satisfying than the organ-based trio: Billy Rich is wonderful in expressing his own idiosyncratic personality and I feel that Larry Young is allowed much more freedom to create and be himself. I'm sorry that John did not like the "finished" rendition of the album but I find it quite enjoyable--much more so than any of the Lifetime or Miles Davis works that he participated in during the previous year. I even like parts of this more than some of his Mahavishnu stuff!

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of ground-breaking, transformational psychedelic jazz-rock fusion. An album I value more and consider more a favorite than any of the Mahavishnu Orchestra albums! Seriously! Absolutely mind-blowing for its time!

Latest members reviews

4 stars A controversial early work released on Douglas Records that left McLaughlin bitterly disappointed, due to the poorly done mixing and finish. Contrary to his repeated requests and pleas, the producer, Alan Douglas (Rubinstein), has flatly refused any chance for a re-mix, so we ended up with som ... (read more)

Report this review (#1380139) | Posted by Anon-E-Mouse | Tuesday, March 10, 2015 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This work goes beyond jazz-rock, evolving into something spiritual, which tend to have the emphasis of wilderness. It's the devotion for spirit, soul and the prayer for life. The rhythms are joyful enough for making the album no hard to understand. The sincerity of instruments begin with Marbles ... (read more)

Report this review (#187440) | Posted by Warhol | Thursday, October 30, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Predating his participation on the stellar Tony Williams`Lifetime McLaughlin applies his apprenticeships with various artists during the `60s to practical use on this unusual early electric exploration. The tripped out tracks heard here are nothing like McLaughlin did before or after and can ... (read more)

Report this review (#100112) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Thursday, November 23, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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