MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA — The Lost Trident Sessions (review)

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA — The Lost Trident Sessions album cover Album · 1999 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Sean Trane
This is the album by which we hold the end of MO’s first line-up’s end. Indeed, recorded just like the previous two albums in a rush (four days in late June 73), Hammer and Goodman opposed to its release, this time being helped by Laird, usually not choosing sides between the two camps, while McLaughlin and Cobham wanted to release it as such. So for once, Mc had not his way in his project, which was a first, another being that three tracks of this album are not from him. Indeed the other three come from the rebellious camp. Those having seen MO in concert always noticed that this was John’s ship and he was alone boss on it, which in the long run was not a good idea. A mistake he would repeat with the MkII line-up as can be evidenced on the Montreux Performance. Anyway, Columbia finally stumbled on the tapes (that had migrated from London to LA) and released the album with the group’s (full, I think) consent, and what a brilliant idea it was, but I just wish they would’ve given, it a more project-type of artwork instead on this relatively cheap photo montage.

Starting on the gigantic epic track called Dreams, the album quickly lets you climb aboard the spaceship returning to 73, so much easier so that the track exists in an extended version of the live BNaE album. It would be pointless to start picking the differences here, but I like the studio better, due to better recording conditions, but the live version is the reference to me and will remain so. The following Trilogy is also a track that has graced the Live 73 album, and here we get in full force with a much-needed conciseness, quality lacking in the live album.

Among the new tracks heard for the first time is the particularly superb Goodman-penned I Wonder, which has a slight déjà-entendu descending riff, but the track is so very lovingly enamouring that it could last twice its length. The Rick Laird-penned Steppings Tones is an ascending riff being worked upon to great affects, but like Goodman’s composition, it’s fairly repetitive. But most interesting is the Hammer-penned Sister Andrea, a very accomplished track that concentrates not only one Hammer’s keyboard work, but allows a full spectrum of the group’s possibilities. Most likely Hammer’s Czech origins made him most likely to pull some Stravinsky-like songs that John Wanted for MO, and Sister Andrea is this album’s highlight. Closing up the album is a fantastic version of John’s Song #2, and shows the unbelievable power this group had and the mastery in their restraint from exploding their powers all over the sonic spectrum, Goodman’s violin again underlining magnificently the rhythm section, yet allowing itself all the space to expand. Clearly the group was still quite together back then even if a spat between John and the rest of the group (with Cob abstaining, thinking of his own album to come Spectrum) about writing credits has etched the varnish.

A posthumous album that I wouldn’t file anywhere else but sandwiched between BoF and BNaE, LTS is a pure gem that every MO fan simply must have. Just as difficult not to give it a full rating as with its shelf neighbours

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