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The Mahavishnu Orchestra was a jazz-rock fusion group that debuted in 1970 and dissolved in 1976, reuniting briefly from 1984 to 1987.

In its first version, the band was led by "Mahavishnu" John McLaughlin on acoustic and electric guitars, with members Billy Cobham on drums, Rick Laird on electric and acoustic bass, Jan Hammer on electric and acoustic piano, and Jerry Goodman on violin. The group is best known for their two most popular albums: The Inner Mounting Flame (1971) and Birds of Fire (1973).

From 1974 through 1976, personnel included Jean-Luc Ponty on violin, Narada Michael Walden on drums and vocals, Gayle Moran (Chick Corea's wife and musical partner during the 70's) on vocals and keyboards, and Ralph Armstrong on bass, among others. This second incarnation of the group explored orchestral arrangements, as well as more mainstream funk and R&B grooves added to the mix.

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MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA albums / top albums

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA The Inner Mounting Flame album cover 4.58 | 77 ratings
The Inner Mounting Flame
Fusion 1971
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Birds of Fire album cover 4.49 | 79 ratings
Birds of Fire
Fusion 1973
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Apocalypse album cover 3.58 | 33 ratings
Fusion 1974
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Visions of the Emerald Beyond album cover 3.68 | 30 ratings
Visions of the Emerald Beyond
Fusion 1975
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Inner Worlds album cover 1.82 | 16 ratings
Inner Worlds
Fusion 1976
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Mahavishnu album cover 3.31 | 13 ratings
Fusion 1984
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA The Lost Trident Sessions album cover 4.03 | 24 ratings
The Lost Trident Sessions
Fusion 1999



MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Between Nothingness & Eternity album cover 3.52 | 24 ratings
Between Nothingness & Eternity
Fusion 1973
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA France 1972 album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
France 1972
Fusion 2020

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA re-issues & compilations

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA The Mahavishnu Orchestra / John McLaughlin album cover 4.50 | 3 ratings
The Mahavishnu Orchestra / John McLaughlin
Fusion 1979
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA The Best Of album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Best Of
Fusion 1980
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA John McLaughlin And The Mahavishnu Orchestra ‎– The Collection album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
John McLaughlin And The Mahavishnu Orchestra ‎– The Collection
Fusion 1991
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Original Album Classics album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
Original Album Classics
Fusion 2007
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA The Original Mahavishu Orchestra - The Complete Columbia Albums Collection 1971-73 album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
The Original Mahavishu Orchestra - The Complete Columbia Albums Collection 1971-73
Fusion 2012
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Between Nothingness & Eternity / Visions Of The Emerald Beyond album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
Between Nothingness & Eternity / Visions Of The Emerald Beyond
Fusion 2017



.. Album Cover
3.61 | 4 ratings
Live At Montreux 74/84
Fusion 2007
.. Album Cover
4.50 | 1 ratings
Live In France 1972
Fusion 2011


MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Between Nothingness & Eternity

Live album · 1973 · Fusion
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Although most Mahahvishnu Orchestra fans tend to go for their first two studio albums, its the third album, the live “Between Nothingness and Eternity”, that best captures what this band was best at, high energy hard rock. Whereas other fusion pioneers of the day were mixing and matching various genres and cultures, Maha went straight for the rock jugular, mixing a Deep Purple/Hendrix Experience adrenaline fueled rhythm overdrive with solos that fused bebop agility with rock n roll sledge hammer tonality. There was nothing particularly subtle about this group, and that’s why many jazz fans were not interested, but many rock fans embraced them as a band that set a higher standard for ultimate shredding. “Eternity‘s” recording quality is far from perfect, there is distortion and uneven sound balances, the performance is somewhat sloppy, but that intense explosive energy that was this band’s salient feature comes through more on this live outing than it does on their previous studio albums. Consider “Eternity” to be the first ‘punk jazz’ album if you will.

There are lots of cool musical highlights to be found on here. Side one opens with McLaughlin’s signature sweeping tamboura like guitar arpeggios that promise a special performance to come. A few minutes into this side Cobham launches into a high speed double time beat that foreshadows the hardcore thrash scene that will happen in the 80s. This side closes with “Sister Andrea”, which features one of the funkiest Fender Rhodes riffs ever. The best highlight on side two comes when the rest of the band backs off and allows Cobham and McLaughlin to take off on a high speed conversation that matches the old Mitchell/Hendrix jams for a display of two guys who really enjoy each other’s musical company. That interchange also shows how Maha was essentially a McLaughlin and Cobaham band. Bassist Rick Laird does well, but he is essentially a jazz musician. Violinist Jerry Goodman digs into the funk numbers, but seems over his head when Cobham turns up the tempo. Keyboardist Jan Hammer deals with the music by more or less imitating McLaughlin.

John’s original idea for the band was supposed to be himself, Cobham, Larry Young on keyboards, Jean Luc Ponty on violin and Tony Levin on bass. That would have been the better band as both Young and Ponty would have brought more original ideas that could have stood on their own and countered McLaughlin’s intensity.


Album · 1971 · Fusion
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The primal flame to really fused jazz and rock?

This is perhaps what a volcanic eruption may sound like...

First effort of one of the big 3 fusion bands of the 70's, with WEATHER REPORT and RETURN TO FOREVER, "The Inner Mounting Flame" can be considered as the first record to genuinely combine the raw fury of hard rock with free unconstrained jazz. Of course, funk, jazzy rock or jazz incorporating rock elements have already been heard since the end of the 60's, but I cannot think any other artist went so far in this fusion of genres before. Compared to pioneering records such as Miles Davis' "In a Silent Way" or Frank Zappa's "Hot Rats", "The Inner Mounting Flame" marks a clear evolution. This debut album is a pure magma, an acoustic and electric maelstrom sculpting heavy musical mantras inside mountains. Jazz, rock, blues and Indian ragas find themselves melted together to fuel an unique loud, rapid and mystical fire, with multiple uncommon time signatures and complex rhythms.

Like most line-ups from this time period, MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA's members are all virtuosi in their respective instrument and form a true dream-team: incredible guitarist John McLaughlin, who just spent 2 years at Miles Davis' school to record no less than pioneering albums, organist Jan Hammer, who will later compose Miami Vice theme, whirlwinding violinist Jerry Goodman, bassist Rick Laird and extraordinary drummer Billy Cobham. The fast and spiritual aspects of the music is logical when you know John McLaughlin was the only composer as well as a disciple of the Indian guru Sri Chinmoy. That's certainly where these stylistic choices come from.

The disc opens with the incandescent "Meeting Of The Spirits". Violin and drum explodes in a lava of burning guitars. Wow! After all this condensed fury, "Dawn" arrives as a welcomed spacey pause. A calm beautiful jazzy and bluesy kind of ballad. Then appears the raging "Noonward Race". This high-speed delirium jazzy hard-rock can stand for an overboosted jam. In contrast, "A Lotus On Irish Streams" is the perfect soundtrack to wander barefoot in peaceful hanging gardens. A bit mystical and dominated by Jan Hammer's relaxing keyboard textures, this track is a delicate and soothing passage.

Back to life with "Vital Transformation", maybe the hottest and grooviest composition of the album. Not really sounding like an ancient Center American ritual, "The Dance Of Maya" starts with a dark oppressive pattern. This first half tends to become a little repetitive though. Then it surprisingly mutates into a heavy blues-rock! The slow desert jam "You Know, You Know" is enjoyable, nonetheless not varied enough. The record finishes in fireworks with its wildest track, "Awakening". A thundering and breathtaking piece, fast-paced, with multiple breaks and corrosive moments. Guitar, bass, violin, keyboards, drums, each musician displays his virtuosity here!

As the debut opus of a legendary band, "The Inner Mounting Flame" was already, and still remains nowadays, a true sonic blast, stunning and innovative. Such an advanced mixture of hard rock with complex time signatures in the improvisational jazz mold was never heard at the dawn of the 70's.

Simply an essential listen for anyone interested in fusion music. Not the most accessible MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA offering, but undoubtedly their rawest!


Album · 1976 · Fusion
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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.


Album · 1971 · Fusion
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One of the first of its kind. Fiery and fiercely fast guitar with some of the best fusion keyboard work in this genre. This is almost a supergroup, with John McLaughlin, Jan Hammer, Jerry Goodman, and Billy Cobham---all in the same band. Hammer is one of the best keyboardists ever, and he really shines on this one.

So many people have reviewed this album before me, so I just want to mention some things I like. One, is the fuzzed out guitar that John was doing in Miles Davis' band. It's so... ROCK! Yet the music is so... jazz, that it fuses into this sound that is a little hard to describe. Jan Hammer always plays some great electric piano, comping chords like a champ, and Jerry Goodman lays down some nice violin parts, even if his sound is a little 'scratchy'. Unlike his funky solo albums, Billy Cobham is here, rockin' hard on the drums, and his definitive style is already showcased on this album.

This album was important stepping stone in the development in jazz-rock/fusion. Where Miles Davis, Weather Report, and Herbie Hancock would go off into the stratosphere at this time in the early 70s, Mahavishnu Orchestra said, "yea, we can rock out too". This opened up the door for bands like Return to Forever, Fermata, and later on, Brand X. Essential for a any fusion collection, and if you don't have this one, you're missing an important album in the development of the genre.


Album · 1974 · Fusion
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"Apocalypse" was the first MAHAVISHNU record I heard back in my teens when I most actively explored progressive rock and related genres. At that time I found it too serious and too distant and even too difficult to comprehend. Recently I gave it another spin in order to write this review.

Well, I can't say that I was much wrong back then... This album comprises of elements of what I would call "symphonic fusion" and the band, now featuring different line-up from previous works, is doing an amazing performance. I was never a fan of McLaughlin's speedy guitar technique, but one must pay tribute to his love and confidence towards his musical expression. A remarkable novelty on this record is the presence of Jean-Luc Ponty, jazz-violin virtuoso, who is capable of producing rather spacey and almost psychedelic effects on his electric violin.

On the composition side, I am much less convinced that "Apocalypse" is an important album. Symphonic arrangements, lush orchestration and occasional female vocals are largely spoiling the rock sound of the band and bring zero interest to my ears. At times it all sounds like a soundtrack from a classic Hollywood melodramatic films of the 1950s... Nice to listen but out of the scope of progressive fusion daring achievements.

If you are a classic fusion fan, you will definitely need to hear this album, simply because it comes from the nest of a premiere exponent of the genre. Otherwise, I will not go as far as recommending it to larger, general music listeners.



Movie · 2007 · Fusion
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The 1984 appearance of the MO was a lineup that didn't have any of the previous MO lineup of musicians except for John. Still there was a pretty impressive roster. Jonas Hellborg, on bass, steals the show. I suspect he's been rather influenced by Jaco at this point. Also, we also have Bill Evans, fairly fresh out of his stint saxing with Miles Davis. There's also a fine drummer, Danny Gottlieb, who'd played with Pat Metheny prior. Don't know much about Mitchell Forman. With John experimenting with the Synclavier Guitar so much, the keyboards are almost redundant in this ensemble. I had a hard time sitting through this at first. It definitely has that '80's taint, if you know what I mean. But I've warmed up to it. It's a bit like an attempt to return to the magic of the original lineup that doesn't quite get there. Still, if you judge it in the context of the time, it's not too bad.

I got this for one reason and one reason only, it was the two video bits from the Apocalypse lineup of Mahavishu Orchestra. Actually calling them bits isn't quite accurate. Wings of Karma and Hymn to Him are actually decently long pieces. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had some actual orchestra musicians with them there at Montreaux. The first inkling I got that there was some live footage from this MO lineup was a poor quality video of Smile of the Beyond on a certain video clip web site many of us know of. It's very disappointing that we only get two clips from the show with video and the rest are audio only. I'm guessing the rest of the original footage has been lost. One can only hope that it will resurface. The performance is a bit more structured than the more compact MO's could be live, but that's to be expected due to the larger number of musician's involved. Still the core band does get to work in some improvisation, McLaughlin in particular.

This release is all in all a pleasant surprise for 2007, but there's more video out there from the older Mahavishu Orchestras, and I hope to see that material surface soon. It gets a four on the round up.


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