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John McLaughlin - Johnny McLaughlin - Electric Guitarist CD (album) cover


John McLaughlin


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.35 | 49 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

To my knowledge this is the first or second solo album after McLaughlin's adventures in Mahavishnu Orchestra and the world music Shakti duo. In some seven years, the sizzling jazz-rock of the early 70's had been metamorphosed into the slick fusion that will over-crowd the market by the end of the decade. So you should expect nothing like John's brilliant early solo career (pre-MO), but rather a much cooler and less enthralling music, filled with a star-studded guest list. Yes, appearing on this album is almost the whole planet of late 70's fusion, plus a slightly surprising Jack Bruce apparition even if John was a regular on Bruce's early 70s solo albums and their Tony Williams tenure. I guess that after three acoustic Shakti records, McL fet the need to remind us that he was first and foremost an electric one, but I find his choice of artwork very disputable since the end of MO, and here we are hovering the zero.

NY On My Mind sounds like early MO going absurdly soft in the middle section, ruining the overall track, while Friendship is in the Santana realm (little wonder looking at the players), but it's plagued by cheesy heard-elsewhere front riff. The tear-jerking Every Tear is yet another McL riff that is now all too well-known and this umpteenth recycling of the formula is not only stale, but even slightly irritating, especially considering ther goalless soft jazz jamming coming in the middle section. The amazing quartet on Do You Hear The Voices give in a good performance, but too much showmanship from Stanley, Jack and Chick is losing points. TWL MkIII in the following Are You The One??? While again quite impressive in showmanship (you never have to ask twice JB to show off ;o)), but again the track falls a little flat overall. Phenomenon could sound like a work in progress of MO track that was never released, with McL nearing metal guitar riffs and Cobham roffling away o,n his drums, shooting everyone in sight >> some Math prog or Brutal prog groups probably found their inspiration here. The last guitar ditty closes this unfocused album, a bit as if McL wanted to remind us of all he had done so far.

The music developed is along the all-too over-stretched spectrum lines of later-RTF, the contemporary-Weather Report (yuuuckkk!! Bad albums from these guys during the late 70's), the then-present-day Santana and JL Ponty and the dozens of other acts flooding the style. Whether this type of album is really susceptible to please the proghead is rather doubtful. Yes, most of the tracks are impeccably played, but their respective interests are rather uneven. But nevermind me, as I find that McLaughlin's career will be of a lesser interest from the early 80's onwards, but the last two albums he made in the 70'S (this one and Electric Dreams) still hold some delightful moments. But these moments are not numerous enough and too many different sessions are used to make this song assemblage, rather than a focused album, making this album not that worthy of acquisition.. Certainly not an album that should be used as an introduction to understand McLaughlin's contributions to the site's scope of interest.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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