MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA — The Inner Mounting Flame (review)

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA — The Inner Mounting Flame album cover Album · 1971 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
dreadpirateroberts
Let's out-rock the rock guys?

I doubt that was the purpose of this project but 'The Inner Mounting Flame' does the job anyway. It's ferocious stuff, pretty much an explosion of sound that wipes the floor with not a few rock heroes of the day - but maintains the complexity we might take for granted in modern fusion artists.

From John's website: "After a Club date with Miles Davis in Boston in 1970, Miles tells me that it's time I formed my own band." Hard advice to ignore and he didn't, pulling in an impressive cast and leading them through high-energy fusion that showcases his rapid-fire guitar, Cobham's monstrous drumming and the violin of Goodman, who keeps up with a lot of the guitar throughout. Less featured in the compositions would Hammer (though his contribution is still important) with Laird quite hidden in the mix at times. Or at least, not often given opportunity to dazzle like some of his band mates.

On to the music itself. 'Meeting of the Spirits' is one of the greatest opening tracks ever put down, with it's ominous opening and insistent riffing from violin and guitar, and along with Cobham blasting away, it's a pretty damn exciting way to start a record. 'Dawn' is one of my favourites, and gives a nice 'half-break' in pace before things rev up again with 'The Noonward Race', which is a feel that's maintained elsewhere on the album in songs like 'Vital Transformation' and the blistering 'Awakening.' 'The Dance of Maya' stands out for it's straight blues section and the 10/8 time signature of its bookends (if I'm counting right) leaving more atmospheric moments to the syrupy 'A Lotus on Irish Streams' or the triumph of 'You Know, You Know' - one of the subtler pieces on the album, an effective, memorable and really quite gentle piece.

Any fan interested in jazz fusion ought to at least be familiar with this landmark album. Five stars.
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