MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA — Inner Worlds

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MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA - Inner Worlds cover
1.74 | 13 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1976

Tracklist

A1 All In The Family 6:00
A2 Miles Out 6:44
A3 In My Life 3:20
A4 Gita 4:23
A5 Morning Calls 1:20
B1 The Way Of The Pilgrim 5:14
B2 River Of My Heart 3:37
B3 Planetary Citizen 2:14
B4 Lotus Feet 4:22
B5 Inner Worlds Part 1 6:35

Total Time: 44:10

Line-up/Musicians

- Ralphe Armstrong /Bass, Vocals
- Narada Michael Walden /Drums, Percussion, Vocals
- John McLaughlin /Guitar, Synthesizer, Vocals
- Stu Goldberg /Keyboards, Vocals

About this release

CBS – CBS 69216 /Columbia – PC 33908 (US)

Recorded July And August, 1975 At Le Chateau Herouville, France

Thanks to snobb for the updates

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MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA INNER WORLDS reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Chicapah
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.

Members reviews

Miler72
OK, so I'm laughing over this cover. I knew I had to get this album for the cover. What was John McLaughlin thinking to pose shirtless on this cover? Grand Funk Railroad, maybe? McLaughlin hardly seems the kind of guy who'd take something like Grand Funk seriously, but he's certainly taking after Mark Farner's tendency of going shirtless (at least Farner had an excuse, it's rock and roll, for one thing, and the girls started screaming when he took off his shirt at Grand Funk concerts, which I'm sure if McLaughlin tried the same thing at Mahavishnu concerts, he won't get the same reaction, probably laughed at, but then I'm sure he only went shirtless for this album cover).

Inner Worlds is the last album (until a 1980s reunion) of Mahavishnu Orchestra. At this point, Gayle Moran had departed, to join her husband Chick Corea in Return to Forever for their apparently forgettable Magicmusic. Jean-Luc Ponty also departed, to continue embarking on his hugely successful solo career. In comes Stu Goldberg on keyboards, no violin this time, with Narada Michael Walden and Ralphe Armstrong remaining. Visions of the Emerald Beyond is easily the best album they did outside the original lineup. Vocals, while present, were kept to a minimum, allowed for more great instrumental workouts for the band. Now comes Inner Worlds. Is it really that bad? The instrumental stuff, which there still is plenty is actually quite good, but what throws people off are the vocals cuts. I actually like a couple of them, "Planetary Citizen" has a funky vibe going on. I think people are simply thrown off by the vocal cuts (most of them sung by Michael Waldon, one sung by Ralphe Armstrong) and the soul/R&B influence seems to collide with the instrumental fusion found on the album. If they stuck to what they did on the previous album, only a couple of vocal songs, and the rest was instrumental, they'd probably not get the negative reactions they did here. Strangely I don't find this album that bad, even the vocal cuts, as out of place as they are, are, for the most part, pretty enjoyable to me. I doubt this review will make you change you mind on Inner Worlds, so this is pretty much my opinion.
Sean Trane
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 Caribbean-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, 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 with them.

Ratings only

  • Fant0mas
  • wthii
  • Lynx33
  • Boris Gargamel
  • joe
  • darkshade
  • Drummer
  • darkprinceofjazz
  • rigoboy
  • richby

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