Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Mahavishnu Orchestra

Jazz Rock/Fusion

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Mahavishnu Orchestra Inner Worlds album cover
2.60 | 136 ratings | 12 reviews | 7% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. All in the Family (6:01)
2. Miles Out (6:44)
3. In My Life (3:22)
4. Gita (4:28)
5. Morning Calls (1:23)
6. The Way of the Pilgrim (5:15)
7. River of My Heart (3:41)
8. Planetary Citizen (2:14)
9. Lotus Feet (4:24)
10. Inner Worlds Pts. 1 & 2 (6:33)

Total Time: 44:05

Line-up / Musicians

- John McLaughlin / electric, acoustic (3) & synth (1,4-6,9,10) guitars, E-Mu synth (10), backing vocals
- Stu Goldberg / organ, piano, clavinet (8), synths (MiniMoog, Synthacon, String), backing vocals
- Ralphe Armstrong / bass, double bass (7), lead vocals (8)
- Michael Walden / drums, percussion (congas, bass marimba, timpani, shaker, bells, gong), piano (3,7), organ (5), lead (3,4,7) & backing vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Andy Engel with Pranavananda (photo)

LP Columbia - PC 33908 (1976, US)

CD Columbia ‎- CK 52923 (1994, US)
CD Columbia ‎- COL 476905 2 (1994, Europe) Remastered by Vic Anesini

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry


MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Inner Worlds ratings distribution

(136 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(7%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(16%)
Good, but non-essential (44%)
Collectors/fans only (24%)
Poor. Only for completionists (8%)


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by The Owl
2 stars A pretty good indication it was time to move on and the Mahavishnu thing had gone as far as it could. A couple good tracks ("Way of The Pilgrim", "All In The Family") but the rest of it is saddled by ill-conceived vocal tunes ("Planetary Citizen" is an abomination!), weak compositions and a rather clunky guitar synth that proved to be nothing more than a multi-thousand dollar noisemaker than anything else.

For die hard completists only.

Review by Philo
4 stars When I got this album first I absolutely hated it so much I wanted to break it, or get rid of it somehow. I even kept thinking about how I could get rid of it, I guess I was expecting the white hot intensity of the earlier Mahavishnu albums, mainly as the first two are fusion classics as the McLaughlin led band became pioneers of the genre. But over a time I grew to like Inner Worlds and it does have some charms and it is quite different to any other release by the Mahavishnu Orchestra. It starts off promising with a nice pacy, half beat kilter number in "All In The Family", Micheal Walden is a competent drummer though very different to the powerhouse who is Billy Cobham.

"Miles Out" I can only guess is a tribute to McLaughlin's mentor Miles Davis, but at best it is an unfinished messy outtake, Miles Out being a very apt description. The album picks up on the next track which is low key but spiritually beautiful song called "In My Life" which features Walden on vocals and the following track "Gita" is equal to it with its lyrics very hypnotic and memorable. "The Way Of The Pilgrim" sees McLaughlin producing some acrobatic guitar work at last, though is still subtle but a good tune none the less with some nice changes in its tone and its the nearest thing to "traditional" Mahavishnu Orchestra, and in many ways familiar to Jeff Beck's take on fusion which in turn was influenced by McLaughlin...McLaughlin IS the master when it comes to this stuff, of that there can be no doubt!

"River Of My Heart" sounds like "In My Life" and contains the same sentiment in the lyrics and like that song, I also find its a highlight, but again like many McLaughlin tunes its dedicated to that damn guru the Sri Chimney or whatever his name is!!! What follows is a tune called "Planetary Citizen" and fans of Massive Attack might find some of this familiar as they nicked parts of this for their piece "Unfinished Sympathy", its another highlight for me, great vocals too. Very uplifting and I often found myself singing " Are you ready to be...A planetary citizen...", the only problem I have with this song is thats its too short. Next up is a dark piece "Lotus Feet", which features some nice guitar synth from John and and subtle and effective congas and sleigh bells from Walden and a Mini Mood played like I have never heard before by Stu Goldberg. This being his standout moment on the album. Inner Worlds has a kind of futuristic sound about it, a more advanced and better version of "Miles Out" though its basically some sound effects and "Inner Worlds Part 11" is a fitting coda to the album but its hard to tell where PART 1 ends and PART 11 starts! Overall its a Mahavishnu album where McLaughlin shares the load in the writing etc...and Micheal Walden has a starring role and though at first I may have had reservations (at the very least!) its actually a very good album, fusion with some extra experimentation I might add, but a good album and one that I would recommend but do not expect Birds Of Fire, but do have an open mind.

Review by Chicapah
1 stars You gotta wonder what gets into otherwise talented, gifted people sometimes. While John McLaughlin designated this as a Mahavishnu Orchestra album do not allow yourself to be misled. Any resemblance to the innovative, revolutionary and amazing music the group created in the early 70s is utterly nonexistent. You can call a chunk of limestone a diamond all you want but it's still nothing more than a common rock to anyone with at least one functioning eye.

"All in the Family" is the first track and it's quasi-interesting to some extent compared to what is coming later. Narada Michael Walden's drumming is undeniably skillful as he guides the band through a high-powered jam designed to facilitate a spirited sparring match between John's guitar and Stu Goldberg's synthesizer. "Miles Out" has an odd, almost funky feel to it once you get past some strange guitar noises at the beginning. There's some very fast playing going on with Walden continuing to be impressive but McLaughlin and Goldberg grossly overindulge in electronic devices and make an ugly mess of things. "In My Life" is a poor attempt at composing an easy-listening ballad and, other than John's flashy 12-string acoustic guitar solo, it is ridiculous. The song has no discernable soul and the words are embarrassingly juvenile and banal at best. I'm not really sure what to make of the next tune, "Gita," but it reinforces my opinion that jazz rock/fusion combined with vocals rarely works, if ever. A handful of Santana's tunes in this vein have proven to be the exception but that's definitely not the case here. Beware. This song is LAME. I mean, was anybody paying attention to quality control here? Moving on, it's quite telling when one of the few highlights of an album is a tune that only lasts for 1:20 in duration. While I'm not praising it by any means, "Morning Calls" is, at the very least, inoffensive with its extremely simple guitar and organ melody.

Walden's "The Way of the Pilgrim" has a straight rock beat and a rather pedestrian musical theme accented by some rumbling tympani. This song might have come close to achieving flight had the synthesizer and guitar leads displayed a smidgen of fire and emotion but they don't and the tune fails to make much of an impression. Narada brings things to a complete standstill with the next song, "River of my Heart," as his very feminine-sounding voice accompanied by piano is pathetically weak. I really hate to rain on the boy's parade but enough already! Please stop trying to sing! Bassist Ralphe Armstrong contributes a tune at this point, his funky R&B-tainted "Planetary Citizen" that is either a godawful imitation or an unintentional lampoon of Earth, Wind and Fire. The vocals are deplorable and the only thing this song has going for it is the fact that it is blissfully short. "Lotus Feet" (is that some kind of a metaphysical put- down or what?) follows and, in light of what has come before, it's not too bad. Walden plays congas and sleigh bells while the guitar and synthesizer create a peaceful atmosphere but the tune never takes the listener anywhere at all. "Inner Worlds" starts out with some spacey noises before Walden's drumming moves things in a more traditional Mahavishnu Orchestra direction. The problem arises in the truth that in the past you would have been treated to breathtaking, exhilarating guitar, keyboard and violin rides but here you get only blatant overuse of effects. The drums are good throughout and the band does reach for some bombastic pageantry at the end but it's too little too late to save this stinker.

All I can say is that if this was the state of John McLaughlin's "inner world" at that point in his life then he was in desperate need of some intense psychotherapy. I will forever respect, enjoy and highly recommend the albums "Inner Mounting Flame" and "Birds of Fire" but I would warn all who would be tempted to indulge their ears in this travesty to stay far away from it. Believe me, I'm doing you a favor.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars With the MkII line-up partly broken up (Moran, Ponty, the strings and brass are gone), McLaughlin kept the Walden-Armstrong rhythm section and set out to the Herouville Chateau studios and recorded in the summer of 75 what would be known as the last real Mahavishnu Orchestra, except if you count the 84 reformation. All of the missing musicians of the second line-up were not replaced except for Gayle Moran by organist Stu Goldberg, which for this writer is an improvement. With a bland artwork showing who's the master on board, this album is a difficult one, because it sounds least to the usual MO sound. Much maligned by partly undeservedly so, imho.

Indeed this album often glides between Santana, B Auger's Oblivion Express, Jeff Beck albums (Wired and BBB), which in itself is no flaw, but surprising. With the organ-dominated, but Carribean-beating All In The Family, Narada Walden is in full form, making this 100MPH track a very enthralling opening cut with unfortunately Mc playing the guitar synth, thus taking some of the bite of his sound, but not affecting his playing. Miles Out sounds like Beck's best torture of a string set on a neck, but Mc uses synths to enhance the cosmic sounds, before Armstrong introduces a riff, easing Narada's arrival and the quartet cruises from one galaxy to the other. While very expressive a track (especially during those days), this type of space rock sounds a bit dated, today. Narada sings the next tracks, In My Life and Gita, something that would give a very late 70's/early 80's Santana feel and on other tracks of this album, close to Auger's Oblivion Express. I certainly am not saying Walden's voice resembles Litgerwood's, but the tracks he sings on have that kind of feeling. In either case, all of the sting of the previous MO album are gone, and it is certainly not the short bagpipe tune played on dumb guitar synth (interestingly, Narada is on organ here) that would change things.

The flipside starts on the more convincing Way Of The Pilgrim, but Mc (sometimes) exaggerates with his technology frenzy, helped by Goldberg's mini-moog, but nevertheless, it's one of the album's better tracks. River of My Heart is to bunch with In My Life, where Narada proves that his ideas (this is the only non-Mc track) are not that easy to absorb on an MO album. The ultra funky Planetary Citizen, then the more reflective Lotus Feet, which is from far the proggiest track, loaded with mini-moog and (unfortunately) Mc's guitar synth, are giving a bit of substance to the album, before the two-part title track takes us again in outer space, sometimes taking Jeff Beck tonalities as in Freeway Jam. This ultra bizarre up-tempoed, partly improvised and completely crazy is not a bad outro for an MO exit.

Clearly not MO's best album, Inner World doesn't really deserves all 100% of the bad rap and rep it endures (but 50%, certainly ;o)), many MO fans are may be a little harsh on it, but had it comes with a better artwork (ala Emerald), I'm sure it would've better better with them.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
1 stars I can't imagine that this album was John McLaughlin's idea. This had to be the brainchild of some brilliant record company executive. Just look at the cover. I'm sorry I had to do that to you.

The album starts out with an okay song, All In The Family. It's just a jam on a nice rhythm section, fronted by Narada Michael Walden. The next song is a step down. A simple jam, with McLaughlin playing on a primitive (hey, this was 1976) guitar synthesizer. After that, forget it. The rest of the album is primarily what the industry was selling as "fusion" in those days: polyester pseudo-soul, with insipid lyrics and occasional unchallenging solos.

But the lowest this stinker of an album sinks is Planetary Citizen, a thankfully short obnoxious disco excursion (hey, this was 1976).

The album gets slightly better with Inner Worlds Pts. 1 & 2, a song that tries, and fails, to recapture the spirit of the earlier Mahavishnu albums. No wonder you didn't see another album from this band for quite a while. I would hide, too.

Stop looking at the cover.

Review by Progfan97402
3 stars I knew I HAD to get this album, at least a cheap used LP. It's because of the utterly ridiculous cover! I mean, what was John McLaughlin thinking? What possessed him to go shirtless for this cover? The shirtless John McLaughlin, as well as that ridiculous haircut he adopted since associating himself with Sri Chinmoy. It's one thing when Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad) goes shirtless, "that's rock and roll", so they say (but I seriously doubt he'd do anything like that these days as a solo act performing Christian songs, but perfectly fine in the old Grand Funk days). It also seriously divides the fans. This is basically the end of the road for Mahavishnu Orchestra (which some believe should have ended with the breakup of the original band). This is John McLaughlin, with Ralphe Armstrong, Narada Michael Walden, and Stu Goldberg. Note that Gayle Moran and Jean-Luc Ponty had left.

The album really isn't that bad, though far from perfect. It's that the vocal tracks seriously conflict with the flow of the album, most of the vocal tracks have that soulful feel. Soul music on a Mahavishnu album does seem a bit inappropriate. Luckily there are several instrumental cuts, some of them exploring that same funky direction of Visions of the Emerald Beyond. Unfortunately some of them feature this guitar synthesizer McLaughlin was experimenting with, so this resulted in a bunch of noise, "Miles Ahead" clearly demonstrating that. It just sounded like technology McLaughlin was not familiar with (to be fair, anyone else, for that matter). Timo Laine (Symphonic Slam) and Steve Hackett also used guitar synthesizers in their music. Because McLaughlin wasn't familiar with this technology, it's little wonder lots of noise and racket were being created, it sounded like he had trouble controlling it. Things work much better, naturally, when he uses his normal guitars. "All in the Family" is the opening song, luckily it's not him and the band doing the theme song of the TV show that bears this name, this is a great opening instrumental fusion number. To me, this is as great as anything the original band could come up with, although there's a Latin-feel to the percussion giving a bit of a Santana-thing song on (which I guess is no surprise given McLaughlin had collaborated with Carlos Santana on Love, Devotion, Surrender). "In My Life", "Gita", "River of my Heart", and "Planetary Citizen" are the vocal cuts, some work better than others, I felt the worst offenders were "In My Life" and "River of My Heart". They were basically soul ballads. Those simply don't work on a Mahavishnu Orchestra album. "Planetary Citizen" works better, as there's more edge to it. I guess McLaughlin felt the need for vocal cuts to get his spiritual message across, something he never needed to do with the original 1971-73 band. The rest of the album is all-instrumental, and this is where they shine best, if the guitar synthesizer isn't out there distracting. I am convinced that had he ditched those vocal cuts and kept his hands off that guitar synthesizer, that this could have easily ended up as a classic, rather than a controversial career ending for Mahavishnu Ochestra.

Since I can't say this album is bad, because several songs actually blew me away, the flaws are pretty obvious, so three stars it is. If you want to hear post-Mark I Mahavishnu Orchestra at their best, go for Visions of the Emerald Beyond (as vocals are kept to a minimum, so it's about 80% instrumental, and the funky approach is quite nice).

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
3 stars After two completely different lineups that yielded exactly two albums each it had become obvious that John McLaughlin was not the easiest bandleader to work with but despite his difficult nature, he still managed to eke out some of the best albums to emerge in the entire world of jazz-fusion but McLaughlin's energy was too much for many to take and by the time it came to cranking out the fifth album in the MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA universe, things were starting to head south which is evident from one of the worst album covers in rock history right up there with Emerson, Lake and Palmer's "Love Beach" and the same could be said for the world of jazz in competition with Herbie Mann's famous shirtless "Push Push" faux pas. Nevertheless the fifth album INNER WORLDS while not up to par with what came before isn't as bad the album cover insinuates.

While keeping a group of musicians together for longer than three years wasn't McLaughlin's strong point, after the second lineup run of "Apocalypse" and "Vision Of The Emerald Beyond," at least a few stuck around to enjoy the next phase. During the last album and this, Jean-Luc Ponty moved on to enjoy his fruitful solo career and wasn't replaced at all marking the first time a MAHAVISHNU album was completely devoid of tortured violin strings whizzing up and down the fretboard. Likewise keyboardist Gayle Moran jumped ship and was replaced by Stu Goldberg leaving bassist Ralphe Armstrong and drummer Michael Walden the only two members of the second lineup to sally forth into McLaughlin's next musical chapter.

Reduced to a mere quartet, the new MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA carried over a lot of the funk and simplified rock of the third and fourth albums but offered a more varied journey through the musical universe. Starting off with the fiery Latin infused "All In The Family" with an energetic percussion, conga and marimba section, the track beguiles the listener by insinuating that the album will retain that fiery drive that launched McLaughlin into the world's stage in the first place but the album quickly drifts off into the spacey second track "Missed Out" which breaks out the funk bass and showcases McLaughlin's love of the new technologies emerging, in this case a 360 systems frequency shifter accompanied by Goldberg's customized mini-Moog and Steiner-Parker synthesizers.

The album begins to go south though with the cheesiness of "In My Life" which features Walden on lead vocals. The song is somewhat of a vocal jazz power ballad with a few guitar licks thrown in to keep it from entering top 40 AOR territory but overall signifies the significant decline in standards that McLaughlin had resorted to at this point which to be fair was the industry standard around the 1976 timeline when punk and disco were sinking the once mighty prog and jazz-fusion ship that had a dominant run during the early 70s. The rest of the album drifts off into middle of the road jazz-fusion with a whiff of Weather Report, Herbie Hancock inspired piano runs and funk rhythms as and a collection of very tame guitar solos. This one was obviously marketed for some crossover appeal as the changing tides of the early 70s were ceding to slicker pop standards.

Overall this one isn't that bad with some excellent tracks but the vocal jazz tracks are rather bland if not down right bad. The song "River Of Heart" is about as bland and cliche as it gets and a slap in the face for anyone who stuck around through the various incarnations of the MAHAVISHNU ORHCESTRA changes. The funky vocal driven "Planetary Citizen" with Ralphe Armstrong on lead vocals but still comes across as a second rate Earth, Wind and Fire song. "Lotus Feet" features a stylistic hangover from "Birds Of Fire" but presented in a rather lackluster slow-paced guitar synthesizer dominated procession. Perhaps the most interesting of this up and down experimental album is the closing title track which creates some startling freaky sounds that shows that McLaughlin really does have some creative mojo left in him. It was clearly obvious that the MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA project had run out of steam by now so thankfully it was left behind for a series of solo albums and the much more interesting Shakti albums that rekindled that fusion spirit. As far as this one goes, it has some great moments but is by no means an essential album after the excellence that preceded.

Latest members reviews

3 stars The MO album with the worst cover ever however, the music on it is far from bad. The album starts very promising with an intensive "All in the family" featuring busy drumming on percussions and drums + guitar/keyboard heavy snowfall. In comparison to earlier MO works, keyboard is more prominent a ... (read more)

Report this review (#2337676) | Posted by sgtpepper | Saturday, February 22, 2020 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I am tempted to give this record 4 stars, but I feel that doing so may misrepresent its quality in comparison to the earlier Mahavishnu records, which are far superior in every way. Having said that, I feel that this is a worthy addition to the collection of anyone who enjoys good music, regar ... (read more)

Report this review (#150483) | Posted by themootbooxle | Tuesday, November 13, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars WHAT THE HELL HAPPENNED???I understand that, sometimes, there are comercial demands in terms of image, therefore your face appears on the cover, even if you haven't wrote all the songs. But for this album McLaughlin should, at least, thought twice about that. Don't get me wrong, I don't think, ... (read more)

Report this review (#22514) | Posted by | Sunday, March 27, 2005 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Oh, why did this ever occur? First the Titanic, then the Hindenburg and now THIS album!! The Inner Mounting Flame and Birds Of Fire are two of the best albums ever!! This incarnation of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, unfortunately, was a total bummer. They long their string and brass sections and ... (read more)

Report this review (#22513) | Posted by | Friday, March 11, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The dying moments of a once innovative and ambitious concept of modern music. John McLaughlin runs up the electricity bill for the last time before embarking on an exclusive 3 year East Indian acoustic sabbatical in the form of the beautiful Shakti . Why Mclaughlin even slapped the Mahavishnu title ... (read more)

Report this review (#22509) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Tuesday, April 27, 2004 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA "Inner Worlds"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.