Showing posts with label John McLaughlin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John McLaughlin. Show all posts

Monday, March 30, 2020


The 1976 Mahavishnu Orechestra release Inner Worlds is the one of the few of the many  John McLaughlin albums I have no use for. It seems a case that JM had a bunch of new guitar synth toys and had not yet figured out a way to make them remotely attractive in their modulations, and that he had to put a band together pronto with little rehearsal time. Especially the compositions, which recycle riffs from the previous two studio albums or spend time abruptly moving from tonal muddle-headedness, ersatz classicism, or the dreariest of vocal chorusing . The band was not ready for prime time, distressing considering the talent in the band, with Stu Goldberg (keyboards), Ralph Armstrong (bass) and Narada Michael Walden (drums); all these players are superb in executing the roles the sessions require of them, but no one shines here, which is a shame. 

See the source imageI saw this line up of musicians in 1974 for the tour supporting the orchestral Apocalypse album (another least-played disc in my JM collection) with the addition of Jean Luc Ponty (violin) and Gayle Moran (keyboards), and experienced a wholesale blitzkrieg of fusion brilliance. It was a refreshing reminder how often the musicians achieve  those levels of ad lib brilliance in live settings, especially from a studio effort that collapsed under it’s own portentous weight. This is a note that McLaughlin is a worth composer of small ensemble composition, but lacked, at least at the time, the where with all to score a piece for full orchestra.  

 None of that was evident on the 1976 release Inner World, and even JM seemed overwhelmed by all the noise that resulted. Fortunately for the world, McLaughlin is one who liked to move from style to style has remained an inspiring artist. To this day, decades after he first rattled my tooth fillings, it still takes one of his guitar solos to put me in touch with that instinct that wants to transform rage and fury into a heady, fast thinking lyricism. He has been that brilliant.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Nice ones

John McLaughlin is a gifted musician who has that strange knack for either delighting me to no end with his guitar playing, or giving me pause to fall asleep  The latter condition is not a compliment. This is a swinging, energized set from the man; he manages to stay out of the riff-ruts he sometimes favors and moves ahead, straight ahead.When the master guitarist gets away from his neurally entrenched riffs (which, dazzling though they are at first listen, become repetitive and fail at bringing us the melodic theme and variations that would keep a solo interesting) and sets himself in a more straight ahead  context, free of devices, pedals, and other digital distractions, McLaughlin is a fleet, quick witted improvisor. His customary ratta-tat-tat style , a huge influence on a generations of guitarists who were more obsessed with speed than inspiration, becomes enjoyable. This is alacrity in service to ideas.

  I did not go to sleep.