MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA

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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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Birds Of FireBirds Of Fire
SMG 2011
$3.79
$4.68 (used)
Visions of the Emerald BeyondVisions of the Emerald Beyond
SBME Special Markets 2008
$3.79
$2.33 (used)
Between Nothingness & EternityBetween Nothingness & Eternity
Legacy 2008
$3.79
$2.86 (used)
5cd Original Album Classics (The Inn Er Mounting Flame/Birds Of Fire/Betw Een Nothingness And Eternity/Apocaly Pse/Visions Of Emerald)5cd Original Album Classics (The Inn Er Mounting Flame/Birds Of Fire/Betw Een Nothingness And Eternity/Apocaly Pse/Visions Of Emerald)
Box set
Columbia/Legacy Europe 2011
$14.71
$26.29 (used)
Birds of FireBirds of Fire
Speakers Corner 2019
$39.92
$5.69 (used)
Lost Trident SessionsLost Trident Sessions
Music on CD 2016
$8.41
The Lost Trident SessionsThe Lost Trident Sessions
Remastered
Sony Legacy 1999
$37.97
$2.59 (used)
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MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Discography

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA albums / top albums

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA The Inner Mounting Flame album cover 4.56 | 68 ratings
The Inner Mounting Flame
Fusion 1971
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Birds of Fire album cover 4.47 | 69 ratings
Birds of Fire
Fusion 1973
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Apocalypse album cover 3.52 | 27 ratings
Apocalypse
Fusion 1974
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Visions of the Emerald Beyond album cover 3.55 | 24 ratings
Visions of the Emerald Beyond
Fusion 1975
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Inner Worlds album cover 1.74 | 13 ratings
Inner Worlds
Fusion 1976
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Mahavishnu album cover 3.22 | 9 ratings
Mahavishnu
Fusion 1984
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA The Lost Trident Sessions album cover 3.90 | 20 ratings
The Lost Trident Sessions
Fusion 1999

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA EPs & splits

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA live albums

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Between Nothingness & Eternity album cover 3.34 | 20 ratings
Between Nothingness & Eternity
Fusion 1973

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 4.75 | 2 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 0.00 | 0 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 0.00 | 0 ratings
Between Nothingness & Eternity / Visions Of The Emerald Beyond
Fusion 2017

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA singles (0)

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. 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 Reviews

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA The Inner Mounting Flame

Album · 1971 · Fusion
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Modrigue
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!

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Inner Worlds

Album · 1976 · Fusion
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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.

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA The Inner Mounting Flame

Album · 1971 · Fusion
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darkshade
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.

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Apocalypse

Album · 1974 · Fusion
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seyo
"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.

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Birds of Fire

Album · 1973 · Fusion
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dreadpirateroberts
Cracks in the line-up were already beginning to develop before this album - if a story of Laird and Goodman fighting and knocking Hammer over during a recording session for the last album are true - but you can't really see it in the music.

'Birds of Fire' is probably a more sophisticated album than its predecessor, but sacrifices some rawness, some of the brashness that was so welcome on their debut.

It does replace it with better production and more focused compositions. Opening with the title track, which covers similar ground to 'Meeting of the Spirits' the band start in top gear before slipping into the Davis cover 'Miles Beyond' which is a real stand out on the album, channeling some chilled funk that finally gives Laird a bit of space in the production, which actually happens a fair bit on this release. Here, in the opener and elsewhere, Cobham is his usual impressive, powerful self, especially when they crank it up for the last half of the piece, but he is also able to display his usual finesse.

The introduction of moog to Hammer's rig enables a different tonal palette to appear on the album and he overdubs it on 'Celestial Terrestrial Commuters' rather sparingly, though you'll hear it take the spotlight in the 'Dance of Maya'-ish 'Sanctuary.' Showcasing John's acoustic guitar is the brief and moody 'Thousand Island Park' which also features double bass and some nice work from Hammer. 'One Word' is pretty darn good and a showcase for the rhythm section while 'Open Country Joy' has an almost rude explosion in the middle of an otherwise pleasant country ballad.

It's a mixed album in some ways, but benefits from the changes they made, even as it suffers a little from the steps they repeat. I swing back and forth between three and four stars here, and so I'm putting the half star in. Again, like the Mahavishnu's debut, the classic fusion fan will want to hear this one.

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Movies Reviews

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Live At Montreux 74/84

Movie · 2007 · Fusion
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Slartibartfast
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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