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John McLaughlin - My Goals Beyond CD (album) cover

MY GOALS BEYOND

John McLaughlin

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.76 | 45 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars This would McLaughlin's last solo album before the release of Electric Guitarist in 78, as Mc will have two group projects, first the Mahavishnu Orchestra, then Shakti. And this album actually has some ramifications in both projects: MGIB is the album where McLaughlin meets violinist Jerry Goodman and drummer Billy Cobham (both members of MO) and most of the second side shows the tastes McL has for Indian music, something he will delve in with Shakti.

MGIB comes with a stellar cast of supporting musicians, but weirdly enough, he doesn't need them for the whole of the first side, as it is strictly acoustic and a solo performance (some Gong banging on two tracks). A series of 8 guitar pieces, half of which are covers of jazz giants such as Mingus, Corea and Miles interspaced with three original tracks, fill up the first half of the album and no matter how well executed, they are pretty well sleep-inducing, aside in the superb Song For My Mother (and profits for his guru ;-) and the excellent Phillip Lane, both being McLaughlin compositions, filled with fiery guitar lines; the third Follow Your Heart completing the podium.

The flipside is rather different (if you forget the Miles cover), with two lengthy tracks totalling almost 20 minutes, both of them delving into Indian classical music and driven by solid raga beats. The first piece of Peace (I know, toooo easy ;-)) is a killer track slowly evolving from an acoustic fusion jazz, where only Malahakshmi's sitar give an Indian sound at first, but the track slowly morphs into a raga (tabla drums slowly appears), with Liebman's flute adding a magic touch, soon relayed by Goodman's violin. By mid-track, the song had veered into a full-blown raga, but the musicians manage to return to the original acoustic jazz-fusion. The second instalment is almost as equally impressive, Liebman's saxello, Goodman's violins taking the forefront. In both tracks, McL could've added some fiery guitar lines, but chose to remain discreet.

As usual with McL's solo albums, MGIB is a bit of a pot-pourri, but certainly less so here than in later 70's solo ventures. Soon McL would take Cobham and Goodman with him and found one of jazz-rock's most stupendous JR/F groups Mahavishnu Orchestra over the next five years with two different line- ups. While I wouldn't call this album even close to essential, compared to MO's oeuvre, MGIB does merit its fourth star, principally on the strength of McL's compositions, crushing the covers, no matter from whom they are.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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