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Shakti With John McLaughlin

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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Shakti With John McLaughlin Shakti with John McLaughlin album cover
3.49 | 68 ratings | 13 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Live, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Joy (18:13)
2. Lotus Feet (4:44)
3. What Need Have I for This - What Need Have I for That - I Am Dancing at the Feet of My Lord - All Is Bliss - All Is Bliss (29:03)

Total Time: 52:00

Line-up / Musicians

- John McLaughlin / acoustic guitar
- L. Shankar / violin
- Zakir Hussain / tabla
- T. H. Vinayakram / ghatam, mridangam
- Ramnad V. Raghavan / mridangam

Releases information

Recorded live at South Hampton College, Long Island, New York, July 5, 1975

LP Columbia PC 34162 (1976, US)
LP CBS 81388 (1976, Netherlands)
LP Columbia KC 34162 (1976, US)
LP CBS, Suzy CBS 81388, 81388 (1976, Yugoslavia)
LP CBS 81388 (1976, UK)
LP CBS/Sony 25AP 117 (1976, Japan)

CD Columbia 467905 2 (1991, Europe, remastered)
CD Columbia, Legacy CK 46868 (1991, US, remastered)

Thanks to Philippe Blache for the addition
and to NotAProghead for the last updates
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Buy SHAKTI WITH JOHN MCLAUGHLIN Shakti with John McLaughlin Music

SHAKTI WITH JOHN MCLAUGHLIN Shakti with John McLaughlin ratings distribution

(68 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

SHAKTI WITH JOHN MCLAUGHLIN Shakti with John McLaughlin reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What an album, East meets West indeed. There are very few outfits that managed to merge so effortlessly like John McLaughlin and the band Shakti. The swirling Indian sounds shed little doubt as to the brilliance of the musicianship on this album. ' What need have I for this, what need have I for that - I am Dancing at the feet of my Lord, all is bliss all is bliss' demonstrates how over 29 minutes, these musicians never compromise in their delivery. This IMHO the highlight of the album's tracks although it is all good. The aptly named ' Lotus Feet' is simply a slow beautiful dance. If you eve felt strongly enough that music shares an inner spiritual journey within you then Shakti with John McLaughlin will meet your needs. The most spiritually uplifting music I have ever had the pleasure of coming across.

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Simply Awesome!

Believe me, im not joking when i saw awesome, because it really is. Think about one suberp guitarist , who again show us what he can do with that strings and that fingers, and a superb violin, a superb tabla, so after all it could be a super band no?

I really like John Mclaughlin, i think he is one of the best guitarist ever, so the fact of Mclaughlin here, is one extra point, in this mucis, you will remind some Mahavishnu Orchestra ( but forgot electric guitars and focus on acoustic), because of the excellent musicianship, and because some passages are very fast, guitar - violin oriented, with tabla and a very particular south indian percussion instrument called mridangam making Raga music, indian music, which could sound a bit rock.

It is a live album which consist in 3 tracks, 2 "epics" and one mid tempo and slow second track. "Joy" is the first track, an 18 minute song showing us how great are the musicians, fast fingers, fast music, all instruments gathered together, and tehy dont let you go, it is a bit repetitive, but you cant leave it, you cant get tired of it, it is awesome because it`s a concert, so that lucky people could appreciatte the complexity of the sound, it is full of scales, , but you can listen how fine can play the musicians, 18 minutes of an indian trip, which you will enjoy.

"Lotus Feet", is the shortest song, and is the slowest of them all, i mean, it is not a fast song, it is beautiful and show us the quality of the music, with a more reserved sound, violin is precious, and percussion background beautiful, after this, prepare yourself for the last song.

"What Need Have I for This - What Need Have I for That - I Am Dancing at the Feet of My Lord - All Is Bliss - All Is Bliss ", what a name no?, the name is so long, and the song is longer i think, the best way to end this album is this almost 30 minutes masterpiece, which is full of joy and a ridicoulous (in the good sense of the word) musicianship, is simply awesome, it cant be 30 minutes of the same way, so you can imagine some changes, i use to listen to this with eyes closed , letting my mind reveiving it, and it is really a pleasure, a can`t say another word, it is simply beautiful, guitar in one hand, violin in other, suddenly both in one hand, it is a tremendous track, i `d love to see something similar until die, i have no words to describe the feeling when im listening to it, in fact i dont open my mouth, only my ears and mind.

After all, Raga - Prog Indo -Prog is my less familiarized genre, but when i listen to this, i have the will to get more of this, not sure if the name of masterpiece of progressive rock is the best for this album, but it clearlydeserves 5 stars, and of course, i highly recommend it to all of you, maybe it is not everybody`s cup of tea, but if you like it the first time, you will love you ever.

5 Stars !

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. I've been wanting to check out the Indo-Prog / Raga Rock genre for a while now. I thought what better place to start then with something John McLaughlin is involved with. He's teamed up with 4 young classical vituosos from India. This was the first record they recorded together, and it's live. I must say that the enthusiasm of the crowd is at a fever pitch at times. I've listened to a lot of live albums, but the eruptions from the expectant crowd seem to be so genuine and heart felt, it's like they're on the edge of their seats. I honestly thought that this must have been recorded in India, that the crowd was cheering on their native sons and this guitar vituoso from the UK. I was wrong, this was recorded at South Hampton College, in Long Island, New York,July 5 1975. I'm impressed. The instruments used are all acoustic. Guitar, tablas, mridangam, violin and ghatam. It needs to be noted that McLaughlin's guitar is custom made, with extra strings crossing over on an angle across his main strings. The fingerboards are scalloped as well. This was also McLaughlin's first recording after leaving MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, as he gave up his electric guitar for the acoustic one I described.

"Joy" opens with one of the band members saying "Good evening friends. Thankyou for that warm welcome". Violin, acoustic guitar, ethnic instruments and tabla hit the ground running in an uptempo 18 minute track. I will say that if your not giving this song your full attention it will probably be quite annoying. This is intricate and fast paced music that changes and evolves throughout, from frantic to almost a calm. Check out the unbelieveable guitar playing after 4 minutes ! A loud cheer can be heard when the violin returns after 5 minutes. Another roar 2 minutes later when he stops. McLaughlin then takes the spotlight for a while. The crowd is so into this ! Violins are back after 9 minutes, as the violin and guitar continue to trade solos. The reward and joy is in really listening to this complexity. "Lotus Feet" is the shortest song at under 5 minutes. Acoustic guitar is gently and beautifully played. Violin takes over 2 1/2 minutes in with tablas coming in late.

"What Need Have I For This-What Need Have I For That-I Am Dancing At The Feet Of My Lord-All Is Bliss-All Is Bliss" is almost 30 minutes long ! Almost as long as the song title. McLaughlin leads the way tastefully as ethnic instruments are played in the background. Violin 3 1/2 minutes in takes over as it is all still very much restrained. The pace picks up after 7 minutes. Percussion dominates with guitar after 9 minutes. A long cheer after 10 minutes. The guitar / violin interplay to follow is amazing. I love the guitar melody 14 minutes in, and the melodic violin 2 minutes later. The guitar 17 1/2 minutes in is fantastic ! Percussion takes over from about 19 minutes in to 27 minutes when violin returns with guitar to follow to end it. Check out the prolonged roar from the crowd 23 minutes in.

This is not for everyone obviously, but if you love to really listen to complex, intricate, acoustic instrumental music, then this is a must have.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

While McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra was still standing on its last leg, Mc had already thought of his next project, which was supposed to fuse Western and Eastern poles in terms of music in equal parts. This became Shakti With J McL, but the least that can be said is that the Indian music has completely monopolized this and following albums. Please don't see this as a negative comment from my part, but if the goal was indeed to fuse equally, when Shakti is a failure since the Indian side just ate the Western side alive. Geographical considerations aside, this series of three albums is a splendid trilogy and most likely one of the best suited as an intro to Indian classical music. Recorded live on July 75, this album goes a long way to show how virtuosi Indian music is, with just a violin player and two percussion players (but playing other specific instruments as well, such as mridangam and ghantam) accompanying Mc, making them an acoustic and almost entirely instrumental quartet. Too bad about the photo artwork, though!

A rundown of the tracks is not really necessary (just three of them anyway with the sidelong track on the flipside being my fave), but this kind of music is never boring if you care to get involved into at decent levels. Mc's lightning-fast guitar playing is suiting admirably well the Indian musicians as he can make up whatever feeling he's still lacking (for the moment) with sheer velocity, making it sound dramatic. While I dig Indian music, having seen Ravhi Shankar around 11 years old, I enjoy Shakti for a while, but I hardly listen to more than one side of vinyl per side, a full album meaning over-saturation for me. As you can guess, Shakti records can't appeal to every proghead, so this debut album should be the one to try first to see if there is any affinity before going further.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars As a fan of the incredible jazz virtuosos of Mahavishnu Orchestra, it was inevitable that I would eventually get hold of John McLaughlin's other projects. He remains one of the most innovative guitarists on the planet. When he teamed with Shankar on violin, Hussain on tabla, Vinayakram on ghatam and mridangam, and Raghavan on mridangam the result was Shakti. To describe the music in terms of comparing it to Mahavishnu Orchestra is unfair though, as the music is on an entirely different world, borrowing heavily on Indian and Eastern influences, almost giving it a world music genre feel, the type of music you would typically hear in India.

The Indian music begins with the frenetic pace of 'Joy' where McLaughlin picks and slides the guitar to accompany the violin that incessantly keeps the pace. It is rather good to begin with but I soon tired of the improvisational style as there seemed to be little structure and I was never a huge fan of free form jazz that continues at length with little change. It is repetitive and really not my taste at all.

'Lotus Feet' is a softer piece with a melancholy ambience featuring beautiful violin and guitar. On the last track, 'What Need Have I for This - What Need Have I for That - I Am Dancing at the Feet of My Lord - All Is Bliss - All Is Bliss', the Indian flavour completely dominates the Western aspects of the music. The crowd rise as one voice when McLaughlin spirals out of control on his specially constructed guitar, and I particularly like the percussion section that is played with breakneck speed on the tabla and casings of instruments.

It was recorded live in 1975, and perhaps feels a little dated now, but there is an appreciation of this type of music and it caters admirably to that fan base. However, for the rest of us who like our prog served up with a dash of eclectic heavy guitars chilled over with time signature changes and the occasional structure, the album begins to drain dry of innovation. Certainly the instruments are played with virtuoso musicianship, but this is really for collectors only who appreciate Indian music or who enjoy the free form improvisational style of Eastern music.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars Put a jazz guitar full of fast notes and legatos between tablas and a frenetic violin. This is first of all a jazz quintet. The largerly improvised parts on this live are typical of jazz while the sounds are typical of India.

This live album consists of three tracks only. "Joy" takes 18 minutes which contain all the above. I have to say that McLaughlin is not the only sjkilled player. Zakir Hussain at the tablas is a great percussioninst that I have suggested for inclusion time ago, and Shankar at the violin is as fast as McLaughlin. The two additional percussioninsts complete the totally acoustic, not just unplugged, quintet.

"Lotus Feet" doesn't have the obsessive percussions of the first track. The bass note below the guitar and the violin is probably a string instrument, but I'm not so expert of Indian music to know which one. This is a "western" track, with just few tablas at the end when it unfortunately fades out. A very bad thing for a live album.

The third track of this album, with its impossible title has a length of "Neal Morse's proportions". 30 miutes which start similar to Lotus Feet, with the bass note in the background and acoustic guitar virtuosisms. Remove the bass note and it won't be much different from "Friday Night in SF". About 4 minutes of guitar and it's time for the violin. Since now the tablas are present throughout the track. Other four minutes and it's guitar time again. Some stops in the percussions and guitar are here to demonstrate that it's not all improvised. How many fingers does McLaughlin have? At 1/3 of the track the full ensemble is playing. Guitar and violin alternate a part each separated by interludes of unison played notes. This can't be improvised. The central part of this suite is the most complex and all the musicians have room to show what they are able to do. The guitar and violin duo exactly in the middle of the track is the most western part even with tablas, ghatam and mridangam (indian percussions) behind. Do you want to know what an acoustic guitar can do? Wait for minute17. After this it's time for Zakir Hussain to place a solo. This is when the crowd participates with claps. An explosion of applauses after 5 minutes but the solo continues. Now all the three percussionists are at work. After this long solo there are two minutes left for guitar and violin to close the track as an ensemble.

Even if this can be not everybody's genre, every progger that's enough open-minded can really like this album, so 4 stars.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars I love John Mclaughlin's guitar playing. I love L. Shankar's violin playing. Put them together in a raga fusion group, and the results would be spectacular. Right? Well, sort of. This live album consists of two long one chord raga jams, with a short ballad sandwiched in the middle. Both jams consist of Mclaughlin and Shankar trading alternate blinding fast solos, whil occasionally coming back together for the themes of the songs. At the outset, the sound is exciting. But as the songs go on (and on, and on, and on....) they become tedious.

The group was borne from an interesting idea. I just wish they could have added a little bit more variation to the music.

And What Need Have I for This - What Need Have I for That - I Am Dancing at the Feet of My Lord - All Is Bliss - All Is Bliss is just one of the cheesiest song titles of all time.

Review by Warthur
2 stars Although I have to respect John McLaughlin for moving into startlingly different musical territory with this album, on balance I have to say it just doesn't do that much for me. John's playing is just as fast on the acoustic guitar as it is on the electric, and his Indian collaborators do a good job of keeping up, but I find the whole experience rather discomforting. As well as the prominence given to John in the mix and on the cover leaving a bad taste in my mouth - it comes across to me as cultural appropriation, with a white guitarist putting an acceptable face on Indian music - the music manages to be technically very proficient without sounding to me as if it has much in the way of emotional depth, in stark contrast to the early Mahavishnu work. Add another half-star if you are particularly enamoured of Indian music being adulterated to market it to a white audience, I guess.
Review by Sinusoid
3 stars My first real stab at the Indo-Prog genre came from listening to a copy of NATURAL ELEMENTS from the SIUE library and walking away from it liking it. I never really followed up on getting any Shakti material until recently when the debut live album came my way. It's a good album, but there's one flaw that I'll approach later.

Shakti is the band that arose from the dissolution John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra, a band that burst onto the fusion scene with tremendous fiery technicality only to implode upon itself soon thereafter. Technical based bands seem to only sustain themselves for so long. So, McLaughlin decides to take part in the raga music of India, and he assembles a team of Indian musicians to help him achieve his vision of his guitar skills in raga.

In a way, we have the end result of what the Mahavishnu Orchestra would sound like if it was a raga band with solely acoustic instruments. The main attraction is the speed-of-light dexterity from both McLaughlin and violinist L. Shankar (not sure if he's related to the late Ravi) that harkens back to the McLaughlin-Goodman trade-off solos of MO. Yes, these two instrumentalists are intended to be the main attraction here, but the percussionists are the ones that really shine in that they pin the rhythm down for the soloists to do their work, and their constant drive is what seals the good quality of this record.

However, this is essentially an acoustic MO as a raga band. And the fact that only ''Lotus Feet'' is under fifteen minutes is daunting to the minds of those who listen. The long runtimes kill the excitement of the music here, and the percussionists can only do so much before my mind starts drifting. There's only so much trade-off violin and guitar before everything bleeds into itself. I never was fond of MO going over ten minutes, and similar problems that plague long MO songs can be heard here.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars John McLaughlin's first major reinvention of his musical vision occurred in 1976 when he hooked up with both Northern and Southern Indian musicians to create a new band called SHAKTI. Despite a lame looking cover and John's name attached for apparent recognition, the music is a give-and-take affair with each musician contributing his all to the whole. Out of the three albums they released in the 70s, the first simply titled SHAKTI WITH JOHN McLAUGHLIN was a live album displaying all members' abilities to shred like nobody's business. It is stunning that the live album and the studio albums are almost indistinguishable save the audience applause since the studio albums were basically recorded live on the spot.

This is a kind of music I seem to like more than most. It is true that of all the three albums there is not a lot of musical variation. You get lots of Indian percussion, violin solos reminiscent of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and John's guitar skills breaking the sound barrier. All tracks are based on traditional Indian music of both North and South India with American jazz fusion added to the mix. The musicianship is outstanding and as a fan of technically challenging musical displays, I find this quite an exciting listen. If, on the other hand, you only have patience for one of these types of albums, I would head straight to the best of the lot, "Natural Elements" which is the most refined of the original three albums. I on the other hand find this just as good as the next album "A Handful Of Beauty." Great pacing of slow and fast with emotive passages allows a smooth listen from beginning to end. The well-seasoned musicians display their chops effortlessly and as a lover of classical Indian music AND jazz I dig this stuff a great deal.

Latest members reviews

3 stars John McLaughlin has made another leap to a different direction teaming up with Indian musicians and masters in their field. Fiery violin could at times even remotely remind of Mahavishnu Orchestra. The tracks, especially the last one, may sound overwhelming and going for too long even if soloin ... (read more)

Report this review (#2339667) | Posted by sgtpepper | Monday, March 2, 2020 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Quite an album, this one. If anything, this band is good as a live experience. Be warned, however: if you get annoyed with a lot of jamming, you may not enjoy this album, and it's what keeps it from becoming a 4 star album to me. The first and third songs are very fast-paced and repeat the ... (read more)

Report this review (#98469) | Posted by I|I|I|I|I | Sunday, November 12, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The live record "Shakti With John McLaughlin" stands out from my collection for being the one of the records I admire the most for its originality and its outstanding musical performance. The whole record sounds like Indian music on ecstasy powered by the extremely quick John McLaughlin and well ... (read more)

Report this review (#86447) | Posted by Dr4Wazo | Thursday, August 10, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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