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Mahavishnu Orchestra

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Mahavishnu Orchestra Between Nothingness & Eternity  album cover
3.78 | 203 ratings | 31 reviews | 31% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Live, released in 1973

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Trilogy Medley (12:01)
... The Sunlit Path
... La Mere De La Mer
... Tomorrow's Story Not The Same
2. Sister Andrea (8:22)
3. Dream (21:24)

Total Time: 41:47

Line-up / Musicians

- Jerry Goodman / violin
- Jan Hammer / synthesizer, piano, keyboards, Moog synthesizer
- Rick Laird / bass
- John McLaughlin / synthesizer, guitar
- Sri Chinmoy / poetry
- Billy Cobham / drums

Releases information

1974 LP Columbia 32766

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MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Between Nothingness & Eternity ratings distribution

(203 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(31%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(51%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Between Nothingness & Eternity reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!!

As I explained in the BoF review, the tensions between Hammer and Goodman on one side and McLaughlin and Cobham on the other, started destroying the group and taking into the abyss the third album's recording sessions with the group, Columbia decided to bring out as a third offering a live album, which consisted of brand new and unreleased material: the three extended tracks on the live album being found in their original dimension on the Lost Trident Sessions. What really happened is that Mc and Cobham wanted to release the LTS tapes as a finished album, while Hammer, Goodman and now joined by Laird opposed it. This led to an imminent break-up, but the group owing one more album to Columbia settled on recording their august 73 Central Park concert. The group would soldier on until New Year's Eve in Toledo. After which, McLaughlin build from scratch a new line-up of MO that would go on to record three albums of its own.

Out of seemingly nowhere gongs are chiming, but nowhere is there a spaceship (even if the album would have a very celestial artwork), so where back down to Mahavishnu planet and its superb Trilogy (not RGI, you potheads!! ;-)), Cobham being astoundingly virtuosi, while every other musician in the group works for great unity. The first movement Sunlit Path seems to be providing Goodman's violin some rays of exposure, the second Mère De La Mer (mother of sea) is more Hammer's moment, while the closing Tomorrow's Story is highlighting Mc's blistering guitar. The crowd is overwhelmingly enthusiastic as can be heard between trilogy and Sister Andrea, the only known MkI line-up track that isn't McLaughlin penned (until much later, when Lost Trident will be released), but by Jan Hammer. And unfortunately the live version does not stand much comparison to its studio version, but still remains a scorching beauty.

The flipside is filled by the gigantic Dream, which finds itself expanded to twice its original length. In the middle is an extended and delightfully slow violin-laced spacey session, until the track picks up for the last 14 minutes where the group climbs from one climax to another, soaring higher than the Himalayas, sometimes slightly over-stretching the track and solos, but nothing scandalous, either. Even at this final stage of the line-up's life, it's impossible to find the cracks in the varnish in their incredibly tight music; although the seeds were already sown, troubles would really blossom after McLaughlin's return from his Santana collaboration. .

Some thirty years later, we now know that the three gigantic extended tracks on this Live BNAE album were actually part of the LTS released at the turn of the millennium, recorded less than a month before the concert. On the downside of this album, we are still waiting for Columbia to reissue the remastered version of this album as TIMF and BoF have received it. On the plus side, though the very same Columbia label never destroyed the artwork with their red frame around the original covers as they had done for all the other MO albums as they did so with all of WR's repertoire. How not to recommend a MO MkI line-up? Simply impossible not to, but this album should be discovered after the studio ones, including the LTS album.

Review by lor68
4 stars The best example, live, of their versatility and creativity as well, although some parts are prolix and tired too, at the end...I like to remark also the important job at the electric violin, very experimental here.

This work is recommended, even though I prefer another kind of Fusion, that one more "Progressive oriented" and less "jazz rock", in the vein of NIACIN or ala ECHOLYN.

Review by Philo
4 stars After Birds Of Fire the Mahavishnu Orchestra were going through an identity crisis. While McLaughlin was band leader the other members, Billy Cobham, Rick Laird, Jan Hammer and Jerry Goodman, felt that they too were putting in an equal input into the band yet it was McLaughlin whose name was featured below the credits of every song. The sessions which would have resulted in the third release by the original band would remain locked away in a CBS vault for the next couple of decades. In 1973 the Mahavishnu Orchestra showcased the new material which this album which only featured the new and unheard material. It was released as an album which also proved the the swan song release from the line up that had created such a powerful and intense collaboration like nothing that had come before. The live album itself suffers from a dated sound but the chemistry within the band is still at a white hot and super fused intensity as the band build and create a multi expressive layer of colours and sounds in that intricate and complex method that the Mahavishnu Orchestra were known for. The interplay between Hammer's keyboard, McLaughlin's guitar and Jerry Goodman's violin is at a tremendous high juxtaposed against the solid and hypnotic dual rhythm of Cobham and Laird, and perhaps the inner conflict was producing even more fireworks that pushed the band to a different level. Drummer Billy Cobham for one complained that he never felt his personality come through in the music at the latter stages of the Mahavishu Orchestra's days but you would hardly believe it, though his Spectrum album released in the same year as From Nothingness To Eternity is a very different entity with a varying facet of funky grooves. From Nothingness To Eternity is the recording of a band that never peaked as they exploded prematurely, but that must have been seen on the horizon. The ego's involved with such talent would have to make their presence known some time, that much is inevitable. The material from this album which was only recently released as the Lost Trident Sessions is a band going through a new stage and a new exploration of fusion. The Mahavsihnu Orchestra were the living essence of the fusion era and all that was good and bad, reaching highs with the music but equal lows with ego causing discord. A rare live album from one of the most explosive units to emerge from jazz/rock scene in the seventies in their all too brief catalogue.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The third album of Mahavishnu Orchestra is a live album featuring three long tracks namely "Trilogy" (12 minutes), "Sister Andrea" (8 minutes), and "Dream" (21 minutes). As far as musicality, this album continued what the band has already put with their first two studio albums where the music combined improvisational nature of jazz music, hard driving rhythm of rock music - all are delivered by talented musicians.

The live album starts off with noise from the crowd followed by repeated sounds of gong to let the crowd that show start to roll! Billy Cobham drum work enters and it remarks the work of other instruments which mainly electric guitar solo by John McLaughlin with main rhythm section of Jan Hammer's piano / moog, bass and drum. Violin then takes the lead for solo right after the electric guitar. Billy Cobham gives his powerful drumming in between. The music is a jazz-rock fusion. Jan Hammer gives his moog solo augmented with guitar solo. It's an excellent opening.

"Sister Andrea" maintains the same style as previous track but this time the beat is slower at beginning part, demonstrating guitar, violin and piano. Rick Laird gives his bass lines obviously during transition just before silent break with guitar solo. I can feel the live vibes here and it looks like a rock concert. Jan Hammer provides piano work occasionally. The music returns back in fusion mode with Billy Cobham comes back into the music. Jerry Goodman gives his wonderful violin solo as well. It's really rocking!

"Dream" kicks off with ambient, atmospheric nuance with Rick Laird's bass guitar solo augmented with Jan's piano. Guitar and violin follow gradually. Guitar solo takes the lead with other instruments (except drum) provide soft rhythm. Violin solo enters and then drum follows and the music flows in jazz-rock fashion with Jan Hammer's piano brings the music forward into a more intricate compositions. For those of you who like long instrument solo and improvisation, listening to this track (live) is a rewarding experience. This track moves from slow to medium to complex arrangements. It's a great track.

For my personal taste, this live album is an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Don's miss it. If you don't like the music, at least you can see how powerful John McLaughlin playing the guitar and Jerry Goodman playing the violin. Get it man! Keep on proggin' .!

Note: As usual, there are wise words by Sri Chinmoy at the CD sleeve titled "My Flute". The last two verses of "My Flute" say this: I am all alone / Between failure / And frustration. I am the red thread / Between Nothingness / And Eternity. [Printed here without permission of the author. My rationale is simple: Great wise words must be shared and disseminated to all human beings.]

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by loserboy
4 stars Here is a great live al bum capturing one of the great all time fusion legends at work. Complete with 2 epic tracks (Trilogy 12 mins and Dream 21 mins) this album will completely blow your mind. The Mahav's were John McLaughlin (guitars), Jan Hammer (piano & moog), Jerry Goodman (violin), Billy Cobham (drums) and Rick Laird (bass). The end result is a controlled but free roaming fusion with great excitement and vitality. Mclaughlin's guitar playing is amazing with the entire band doing their best to support him and take the music in new direction... something they do very well live. Cobham's drumming is simply amazing as is the violin quirks from Goodman. Kind of a melting pot of all genres and styles coming together in one amazing place. Go get this album !
Review by oliverstoned
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Warmer than the Mahavisnu studio albums, thanks to the communion with the public and the mystical atmosphere. All the pieces are original material. More spacey and less demonstrative than usual, alternating very calm, meditative moments with furious dissonant flights with strident violin. A mystic jazzrock classic.
Review by Chicapah
3 stars Heck, you gotta give these guys a star just for having the bon bons to try this. Recording your third album with all new material in a live concert setting where you only get one shot to get it right. Outdoors. In New York's Central Park, no less. Anyway, one of the things I love about their first two albums was how their light-speed madness was countered with very delicate and emotional passages. I think the fact that they were in a studio environment was the key to their success because it gave them the ability to control it all and give the songs an identity. Unfortunately, too much of that is lost on stage.

A gong starts things off with a trilogy of John McLaughlin tunes joined together. "The Sunlit Path" is a ferocious duel between his turbo charged guitar and Jan Hammer's Rhodes piano, "La Mere De La Mer" features violinist Jerry Goodman and drummer Billy Cobham firing rounds at each other and "Tomorrow's Story Not The Same" finds things taking on a rock feel where the violin, guitar and Moog battle it out until they all collapse in a frantic ending. Hammer's "Sister Andrea" establishes a funky rhythm before it drops into a kind of free-form segment between the piano and guitar. They climb back into the funk again and the violin and Moog get the spotlight for the rest of the song. McLaughlin's "Dream" is an aggressive, adventurous attempt at an almost 22 minute epic that probably worked better if you were there in person than it does on record. It has a subtle beginning with John playing acoustic guitar in a flowing duet with Goodman's violin. A fast paced undertow rises up from the band to change the mood before they drop out again and the guitar starts playing a blazing pattern while the piano solos overhead. After a wild, manic moment you are treated to what sounds like a jazz/rock fusion interpretation of the highly recognizable guitar riff from Cream's "Sunshine of your Love." Yes, it's strange. They then retreat to a blistering musical argument between the drums and guitar that goes on for way too long. Things get crazy again before Rick Laird's steady bass calms things down for the violin and guitar to shine before the piece ends quietly.

This was the last album we'd get from the original lineup. When musicians are as uniquely talented as they obviously are it's nearly impossible to keep them in one band for very long. This was a bold move for them that fell short of the mark and may well have hastened their breakup. I highly recommend the first two albums but this one is only for those who want to hear how fast they could play outside the confines of the studio or just want to own everything they recorded. It's by no means terrible but I rate it as a 2.8 overall.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars If I had a Hammer

Although this the third release by the Mahavishnu Orchestra is a live album, it contains entirely new material. The tracks had in fact previously been recorded in the studio, but those sessions would not see the light of day for over 20 years. This performance took place in Central park, New York in August 1973.

Right from the outset here, there is an air of over indulgence. The album consists of three lengthy tracks, of which two appear on side one, with the third occupying the whole of side 2. John McLaughlin claims the writing credits throughout, although this seems somewhat presumptuous given the nature of the music. The opening "Trilogy" (nothing to do with ELP though) is a 12 minute improvisational romp featuring the violin of Jerry Goodman, the lead guitar of John McLaughlin, and the keyboards of Jan Hammer. There is at times a duelling banjos feel to the long answer and response interludes, but the underlying themes are hard if not impossible to distinguish.

"Sister Andrea", the shortest piece at just over 8 minutes, is a slower boogie based interlude. Even here though, the sound is much harder than the studio albums have led us to expect. There is little if any of the transcendental meditation of the studio albums, for this gig the band turned up the volume and rocked. That said, the underlying influences are still firmly rooted in jazz/fusion/improvisation.

The 21+ minute "Dream" occupies the whole of side 2. The track builds from a soft dreamy start into another lengthy jam, led off by Jan Hammer. By the way, the use of the words "jam" and "improvised" here are intended to be descriptive of the style. There are regular indications along the way that the performance is actually very tight and rehearsed.

While I can appreciate the mighty talents of the highly accomplished musicians on show here, for me the music fails to retain my attention. The three suites are overlong, and lack any kind of distinguishing character. Ultimately, I can only recommend this to those who already know what to expect, or those seeking technically gifted but dry musicianship.

Review by Kazuhiro
3 stars This live album that had been recorded in 1973 became the last album as an initial work of Mahavishnu. It is ..high quality work that draws the flow of the compilation and at the same time by an initial member.. finished. The creation that they did at that time of this influences very various musicians. It is also true that Mahavishnu influenced Chick Corea. And, it talks about the remark where a variety of guitar players also admitted the nature as his leader by the interview. The performance that explodes the feelings is a content to understand whether they always offered the listener the highest performance very live.

They have gone in live of this with Central Park. They before live was done decided the band already and it had been decided to dissolve. And, after having digested live, they declared the dissolution of the band on substance. Maclaughlin completely changes the band in 1974 and works on the production of "Apocalypse". It is guessed that the decision that he gave was time of a further leap for Mahavishunu. However, it is guessed that the performance at this time was time loved most for the listener.

Initial Mahavishunu was the energy for the member age. Mahavishnu was time when the creation that Maclaughlin had done exceeded our imagination and obtained one zeal and conviction though participated in the album of Santana and Miles Davis by Maclaughlin. It talks about Maclaughlin by the interview. 「I always develop by music and have expanded. Meditation helps my life. 」He is expressed, religious limited thought and creativity are expressed by music, and his music character at that time is made an embodiment by Mahavishnu exactly.

This thought gradually develops the music character of Mahavishnu and the thought of Maclaughlin is connected in competing with Shakti.

Review by aapatsos
3 stars Halfway through... nothingness and ...eternity!

As far as I am concerned, the title is representative of the musical quality here. There are definitely moments of NOTHINGNESS (e.g. unconditional improvisation that often leads to long, tiring compositions) and there are moments of ETERNITY (e.g. really inspired musical ideas that build exceptionally interesting and novel fusion passages).

The first and only live CD of the band consists of 3 relatively long compositions; the two longest ones are composed by John McLaughlin (Trilogy and Dream) and the middle one by Jan Hammer (Sister Andrea). All compositions are new and could have easily been part of a studio album; although BN&E is a live album, it could be treated as a studio one but for the excessive improvisation...

Surprisingly, bearing in mind the year is 1973, the sound is crystal clear, the instruments are clearly distinguished and produce bright and shiny ''noises''. It is not really needed to comment on the technical skills of the musicians - history speaks for them. In terms of structure, the most loosely composed track is Dream where the individual skills of the band's members appear within the 21 long minutes... the longest a single rhythm section tune stays the same should be about 4 minutes - the session 9th-13th minute - and that is probably the most interesting part. Although there is a violin/keyboard-based jazzy start, McLaughlin's playing is dominant without leaving enough space for the others to evolve in the track after the 7th minute.

The other McLaughlin composition here, Trilogy, is based on a distinctive guitar-keyboard tune and is more down-to-earth (!) mainly because it flows on a relatively 'relaxed' rhythm section at least for the 3-4 first minutes. It gradually builds up and turns to a heavy fusion dynamite after the 6th minute with loads of virtuosic passages and lots of interchanging soloing between instruments. On the contrary, Sister Andrea shows some funky/blues elements and the compositional approach is somewhat different. Most of the track is based on a medium tempo before derailing completely after the 7th minute...

Presumably, fans of instrumental jazz/fusion that is based on improvisation will appreciate this record. I would probably not recommend that for a prog fan relatively unfamiliar with the genre (including myself) that wishes to make a start on jazz/fusion, but most of the listeners will find lots of boring and, at the same time, interesting pieces of music here.

I still think this album is midway through zenith and nadir, thus 2.5-3 stars.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album introduced me to Mahavishnu. It is entirely composed of tracks that did not appear on any of their studio albums. And if they hadn't unearthed the studio sessions 2O years later, this might have been essential, even considering its flimsy sound. In a way it represents the pinnacle of the first Mahavishnu group and their playing never was tighter then this.

But hearing it back now for the first time in 10 years and also for the first time since I heard The Trident Sessions, the improvisations sound a tad too long-winded, not focused enough really. It's still an impressive live document from an amazing and unique band, but rather then a general recommendation, it's just an item fans will want to seek out.

Review by The Quiet One
4 stars Between Heavy Jazziness & Uncomprehensible Complexity

Between Nothingness & Eternity is a ticket to, well, nothingness and eternity, passing through all the diversity and virtuosity this line-up could offer back in the 70's, yes the whole unbelievable deal: the speed-of-light passages, the ear-bleeding rhythms, the eternal duels between members John, Jerry and Jan, the heavy blastings riffs, the delicate and intriguing indo material, and the ocassional intricating jazzy grooves.

While the same tracks featured here were later released as studio versions on the Lost Trident Sessions ''album'' which do present the tracks as they were intended to be, without any jamming nor noodling plus a clean production, I consider Between Nothingness & Eternity to be a much more rewarding listen since the intensity and capacity the players show on the live album is completely unique in it, which is totally withdrawn from the studio versions.

The live performance begins alike Birds of Fire and Inner Mountaing Flame, with the calling of the legendary gong and some very similar(if not identical) guitar lines to that of Meeting of the Spirits and the track Birds of Fire, however after that it becomes all new and unpredictable: From frenetic up-lifting melodies to the never ending duels of electric guitar, electric piano and moog, and violin; nobody is better than the other, each member shows they're highly capable of playing extremely difficult stuff but that's not it, they manage all this to make it appealing for the listener, even so that I'm sure that a *serious* heavy rock fan of stuff like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and the like can get a tremendous kick out of the playing in here since besides being prog and all, it rocks!

The concert moves on to Sister Andrea, a funkier treat as a whole, somewhat similar to the groovy but still heavy Miles Beyond from Birds of Fire. While composed by Jan Hammer, there's still a lot from all members, a evolving beast-alike guitar solo byJohn at the beginning, a fast and somewhat dissonant violin solo in the middle and ending finally with a fascinating moog show-off by the composer himself of course, Jan.

The live show finalises with the 20+ minute extravagant track called Dream. It may seem a chaotic mess when you first listen to it, full of unnecessary self-indulging sections, frenetic passages that seems to be played by people who dare more than what all a man can dare of, and in the end it is that! However, once again they've managed, above all that uncomprehensible indulgement, to achieve a incredible unique jazz rock piece which is seemed to be played by raging gods, in which in the very end of the track these ''gods'' seem to reconcile and tune things down.

Final words of this overlooked live gem is that it's essential for any Rock listener interested in listening to some of the wildest playing out there from the 70's played live, even if in parts it may seem incomprehensible. Not the best place to start though, but it's safe to purchase this after having bought and understood Birds of Fire and Inner Mountaing Flame.

An outstanding ''goodbye'' album from this unbelievable line-up, which no other band yet has showed such skill delivered in such a unique and rockin' way.

Review by Sinusoid
2 stars If I could make the album review really short, all I would need to say is, ''Mahavishnu Orchestra, live'' and be done. The sound quality isn't really all that great here to be honest. What makes this album different from other live albums is that all three songs haven't been on a studio album at the time, and wouldn't until THE LOST TRIDENT SESSIONS. I haven't heard the TRIDENT SESSIONS album yet, so I can't make any comparisons here.

NOTHINGNESS AND ETERNITY didn't seem to cure the boredom problem that Mahavishnu was giving me from APOCALYPSE, even if the latter came later. We still have the classic McLaughlin/Hammer/Cobham/Goodman/Laird lineup, but little from this album does much to please me. There a nice section in ''Trilogy'' that is superb, but the lengths of the songs and the general lack of anything going on anywhere makes it hard for me to defend the album. I can only grouse about how much better I think INNER MOUNTING FLAME and BIRDS OF FIRE are.

I don't mind lenghty jams if they can make me hold somewhat of an interest, but nothing on NOTHINGNESS AND ETERNITY really does that. Stick witht the first two Mahavishnu Orchestra albums if you want some jaw-dropping jazz fusion.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Man if the sound quality was better i'd give this five stars.These guys were on fire that day in the summer of 1973 in Central Park, New York. Actually in my vehicle I can get this to sound better with more bass. Just a shred fest at times.This band never ceases to amaze me with their virtuosity and intensity.The songs at the time were new to the audience and any who would purchase this live album.They had recorded them in studio and they would surface eventually on "The Lost Trident Sessions" many years later.

"Trilogy" has probably the worst sound quality especially early on. It opens with several gongs then the guitar comes in and builds. It kicks in then settles again. I like the piano and violin 2 1/2 minutes in. A calm 4 minutes in then it builds. Here we go ! They're on fire 9 minutes in. A big cheer 11 minutes in when they settle back and when the song ends.

"Sister Andrea" features an all out assault from McLaughlin at times. It's Goodman's turn on the violin. Just a killer track. "Dream" is the 21 1/2 minute closer. It's pastoral to start then starts to come to life before 5 minutes. So good. It settles back after 6 1/2 minutes with piano outfront. Here we go after 8 minutes. Incredible ! All hell breaks loose until after 12 1/2 minutes. Cobham is on fire 15 minutes in and so is McLaughlin. Just a light show really from John. It settles back before 19 minutes but not for long.Too much ! I'm not worthy.

Easily 4 stars.

Review by Warthur
3 stars The only live album from the original Mahavishnu Orchestra lineup might have been a godsend when it first came out, but it's since been supplanted in importance by The Lost Trident Sessions: all three songs from this album are there, plus more songs on top of that, and the sound quality is significantly better. (Well, obviously, it's a studio recording and this is a live album, but even so for a live album from the era the sound quality here is only mediocre-to- average).

The setlist here consists of expanded versions of the first three songs from the Sessions, but the studio versions are much tighter - in particular, Dream in this twenty-minute rendition simply lasts for too long, especially considering the five minutes of extremely quiet playing at the beginning - which, thanks to the recording standards, aren't easy to hear.

Ironically, the New York concerts the album documents were vividly described during the preamble of the infamous Crawdaddy magazine article on the band - in which the band members made no secret of their frustrations working under McLaughlin, which prompted the personal falling-out which ended this lineup of the group. Mahavishnu devotees may wish to own it simply for that reason; for everyone else, it's alright, but now that we have the intended studio followup to Birds of Fire available to us it's utterly redundant.

Review by friso
3 stars Mahavishnu Orchestra - Between Nothingness & Eternity (live) (1973)

A live album of the classic MO line-up, McLaughlin, Hammer, Goodman, Laird and Cobham. The material played comes from the later released lost trident sessions and was unheard of at time of at the time of this vinyl release.

This album has 10% composition and 90% improvisations with all musicians willing to show how well evolved our hands are when it comes to high speed, precise movements. The rhythmic section of the brilliant Cobham on drums and Laird on bass is often the main attraction, but some solo's of McLaughlin are quite bizarre & impressive and I like the chords played on the Fender Rhodes by Hammer. Sometimes the metal crimson abstract style comes to mind, but most of the time the band looses itself in noodlings.

I myself don't like violin solo's and I've yet to see a live performance of a violin player in a rock band that I do like. The combination of violin and guitar solo at once is also quite astonishing in it's dysfunctional and chaotic effect. Now I can't enjoy both.

The recording sound is acceptable for it's time, but I must say McLaughlin has a pretty nice heavy distorted rock guitar sound. His techniques are both likable for it's speed and sheer energy, but the sensibility is lacking in everything he does.

Conclusion. A nice live set from Mahavishnu Orchestra, but I would not call it essential. There's little melodic playing here but a lot of strong improvised solo's (if you like it fast that is). Three stars. Recommended to fans of the band and people who like to listen to technical jam- sessions.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars By 1973, Mahavishnu Orchestra was seeing quite a bit of turbulence. Their previous album "Birds of Fire" had seen some success and the band seemed to be on their way up. The follow up album (their third) was planned to another studio album, however, tensions in the band led to the scrapping of that album, and it was decided to release "Between Nothingness & Eternity", a live album which featured songs from the scrapped studio album. Jan Hammer (keyboardist) and Jerry Goodman (violinist) had said in an interview that they didn't like the way John McLaughlin was managing the band. Failed recording session resulted in band members not talking to each other. The band was exhausted from their extensive touring. Things had reached a boiling point in this first line-up of the band.

With all of this turbulence going on, it is hard to believe that the band could still sound so cohesive on this album that took the place of the planned studio album. What we ended up with was a 3 track album that includes the 3-part suite "Trilogy", an excellent showcase of just how talented the band was which features amazing solos from Goodman, Hammer and McLaughlin which becomes a wonderful fusion piece; "Sister Andrea", a more avant style of improvisation where the band proves they could still work well together; and the side-long "Dream" which is a progressive, instrumental delight. Everything about this album is five-star material, however, the sound quality is not up to that standard and ends up knocking this excellent performance down a star. However, this is still a worth-while album for progressive lovers to have anyway.

Unfortunately, this would also be the last album this line-up would put out. There was an unsuccessful attempt to bring the band back together, but it didn't work out, the band dissolved, and McLaughlin came back in 1974 with a brand-new line-up. At last, McLaughlin was able to recruit his first choice in violinists, Jean-Luc Ponty, who couldn't join the band originally because of some immigration issues. The band also increased in membership at this point, for their fourth album which would also include the London Symphony Orchestra.

The scrapped studio album featuring the first line-up would end up being released 30 years later (1999) and would be titled "The Lost Trident Sessions" which would feature the three tracks on this "Between Nothingness...." in their studio form along with the other three tracks intended for that album. McLaughlin felt that the lost studio album was much better than the live album that got released. However, this live album is quite amazing and still sounds excellent to this day, except for the less than perfect sound quality. Still, it is an excellent addition to your collection and is an album that I think most progressive fusion lovers would enjoy immensely.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA's ascent to stardom was a quick one with the band dazzling the world as the first supergroup of technical wizards of jazz-rock weaving music magic in ways the 60s only hinted upon. Initiated by the ex-Miles Davis guitarist John McLaughlin, the band was taken into the stratosphere with some of the best musicians the world of jazz and rock had nurtured up to the year 1971 when this group was formed in New York City. McLaughlin, who led the supporting cast of Jan Hammer (keyboards), Rick Laird (bass), Jerry Goodman (violin) and Billy Cobham (drums) had his work cut out as bandleader, main composer and guitar god and although the band synergized its talents for a brief moment in time crating timeless seemingly otherworldly fusion music that blurred the distinctions between jazz, rock, gypsy folk, funk and traditional world music, the clash of personalities and sudden ascent into the spotlight was too much for this cast of behind the scenes musicians and the project ended after two albums and three years after it started.

During this first lineup's tenure, two albums ("The Inner Mounting Flame" & "Birds Of Fire") were released but enough extra material was written and recorded but never came to be due to the band's untimely disintegration. While the world would have to wait for the 1999 archival "The Lost Trident Sessions" to finally emerge from the vaults, this live album BETWEEN NOTHINGNESS & ETERNITY which came out in November 1973 somewhat served as the next best thing to the final third installment of the original lineup's output. Recorded live at the Schaefer Music Festival in Central Park in New York City on August 17 and 18, 1973, the album featured three tracks that were to be on the band's third album which never came to be. For decades this album was the only game in town when it came to the material presented and although has been somewhat eclipsed by "Trident Sessions" still remains relevant as a testament to the uncanny musical genius that these five musicians delivered in their fiery and mind-numbingly complex compositions that surely must've required unthinkable hours to master.

McLaughlin once again wrote the bulk of the material including two of the three tracks leaving Jan Hammer to contribute the rare self-penned composition "Andrea" which showed McLaughlin stepping out of the control freak's seat for a brief moment. The album only spanned the playing time of a normal album at 42:24 but when re-released as part of the 2011 compilation "The Complete Columbia Albums Collection" included new songs and extended versions from these same live performances. While the material presented here won't sound much different than what's presented on the superior production of "The Lost Trident Sessions," BETWEEN NOTHINGNESS & ETERNITY featured extended versions that offered more improv and live performance spontaneity. "Dream" for example is nearly twice as long as its studio version, a boon for some but a bane for others. The musicians are all on the top of their game here and the beauty of a live album like this is to fully comprehend that this band was by no means a studio gimmick and could crank out those wild roller coaster rides of virtuosity in a seemingly effortless manner.

The downside of this live album is that it seems woefully short. This easily could've been a double album and i honestly wish it was. The other major flaw is the production which is thin but contains a rawness complete with audience participation and extended jamming liberties. While the album's relevance has clearly been demoted in the wake of "The Lost Trident Sessions," the album still very much deserves the attention of any true MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA buff as it captures all the magic that the albums did in full regalia. For production snobs this may be a hard sell but for those who are more interested in the actual performances then this one will not disappoint one little bit. The first rendition of the MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA took rock music to unthinkable heights that has never really been exceeded and despite the flaws, this only live album from this era displays that in its incredible run of three well-crafted tracks that dazzle the senses with emotive strongholds as well as the technical soloing tradeoffs that are unparalleled therefore this live album is a must.

Review by Mirakaze
COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars Between Nothingness & Eternity presents the original Mahavishnu line-up at its absolute best and is, in my opinion, one's best bet for a quintessential release by this mighty ensemble. The instrumental performances are unbelievably stellar as far as improvisation-heavy live performances go, rare mistakes only arising due to the occasional minuscule breakdown in coordination. McLaughlin, Goodman and Hammer work seemingly without end to outdo each other in pumping out stellar instrumental solos while Cobham backs them up with his furious drum pounding. Additionally, "Trilogy" and "Dream" both rank among McLaughlin's greatest compositions, perfecting and harmonizing his trifecta of complexity, catchiness and a sense of transcending into heaven. The album's only real obstacle is that the sound quality and the live mixing aren't the greatest, yet somehow this adds an approachable, garagey quality to what is obviously still a highly professional performance of amazing celestial music. Between heaven and earth, perhaps even between nothingness and eternity, McLaughlin and his compatriots succeed in providing the best of both worlds.

Latest members reviews

3 stars The only official live album by Mahavishnu Orchestra has a very ambitious name, lengthy tracks and star-filled line-up so one would have highest expectations of the album. What comes out is a jam masterpiece full of great and sometimes overblown playing that lacks structure and coherence. The au ... (read more)

Report this review (#2337639) | Posted by sgtpepper | Saturday, February 22, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I listened to this album for the first time two years ago with the view to review it. I just had to leave it due to simply being beaten up by the aural assault this album really is. Wisely, I thought it was a good idea to return to it when I had got some more experience within the fusion genre ... (read more)

Report this review (#365477) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Monday, December 27, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars When I was seven years old, I had become a bit antsy with relying on whatever albums and tapes my older siblings would have lying around. There was a bit of luck now and then when I'd get the cast-off album that didn't find favor with them - The Beatles 'Revolver', Iron Butterfly's 'In-A-Gadda-D ... (read more)

Report this review (#178149) | Posted by classicalgasp | Friday, July 25, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Sometimes too long (Dream, 20 minutes, oh God), but this live album (the one and only live album from the first Mahavishnu Orchestra line-up) is excellent for me. Only three tracks (including a Trilogy), all of them were unreleased on studio albums at the time. Later (really later, on CD) will b ... (read more)

Report this review (#162838) | Posted by Zardoz | Thursday, February 28, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The sigh heard at the end of one section says it all....I've loved this album from the moment I first heard it 30+ years ago, and it's appeal has not waned. When McLaughlin's 7/8 ostenato first begins to be heard at the last throes of the gong hits, one experiences an almost nirvanic (yeah, I ... (read more)

Report this review (#123991) | Posted by Finnegan | Wednesday, May 30, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This was my first introduction to Mahavishnu Orchestra and the genre of Jazz/Rock Fusion. It striked me as being very technical and vituosic, with decent writing. To me, all three tracks are very similar so it won't be necessary to differentiate between them. First off, strong points: The e ... (read more)

Report this review (#104638) | Posted by OGTL | Wednesday, December 27, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars For some reason it was decided to release this live album instead of the studio recordings which were to become The Lost Trident Sessions released on CD in 1999. It was recorded in Central Park in the summer of 1973 and most of the material from those sessions can be found here. Everything tha ... (read more)

Report this review (#79884) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Wednesday, May 31, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars In a Billly Cobham concert during the late 1970s, he stated, "If you think it smells sweet now, the last time I was here in 1973 the Mahavishnu Orchestra opened for Pink Floyd." If you wonder why Gen Xer's are jealous of baby boomers, one reason is that concerts like this were prevalent and in ... (read more)

Report this review (#65875) | Posted by | Saturday, January 21, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Very strong live album. In my opinion, this is a record every rock-lover must hear for sure. The playing of members John McLaughlin, Jan Hammer, Jerry Goodman, Rick Laird and Billy Cobham is teriffic. So much power and virtuosity.. It's more exciting than the music on the previous albums, althou ... (read more)

Report this review (#59021) | Posted by Robin | Saturday, December 3, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I was first introduced to MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA in 1972 by my music instructor. I have never heard anything so facinating as DREAM. The way all the artists do their thing is incredible. The violin hooked me. My best description would be is they do to the violin what Hendrix did to the guitar. L ... (read more)

Report this review (#22491) | Posted by | Wednesday, March 16, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Having been there on that New York City, muggy summer night at the Shaffer Music Festival in Central Park where this album was recorded, so many years ago I will tell you that The Mahavishnu Orchestra was the most techincally brilliant, creatively daring and unabashedly as incredible live as ... (read more)

Report this review (#22490) | Posted by | Thursday, October 21, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is the best album in the world. I always thought it was a giagantic free jam. I wondered how did these guys pullthis off. Then i heard the trident lost tapes album. This was almost note for note to the studio version. Sonically the most hyper-alive concert ever performed. I had seen mahavh ... (read more)

Report this review (#22489) | Posted by | Wednesday, September 29, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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