MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA — The Lost Trident Sessions

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MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA - The Lost Trident Sessions cover
3.92 | 21 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1999


1 Dream 11:06
Trilogy (9:30)
2a The Sunlit Path
2b La Mere De La Mer
2c Tomorrow's Story Not The Same
3 Sister Andrea 6:43
4 I Wonder 3:07
5 Steppings Tones 3:09
6 John's Song #2 5:53

Total Time: 39:47


- Rick Laird /Bass
- Billy Cobham /Drums
- John McLaughlin /Guitar [6 String Electric, 12 String Electric], Acoustic Guitar
- Jan Hammer Synthesizer [Electric & Piano]
- Jerry Goodman /Violin [Electric], Viola, Viola [Violow]

About this release

Columbia – CK 65959(US)

Recorded at Trident Studios, London, England / June 25-29, 1973

All tracks previously unreleased

Thanks to snobb for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Jazz Rock Fusion aficionados, for too long the underdogs in the culture kennel, had reason to cheer in 1999. Not only did a long-lost recording by John McLaughlin's first MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA (a group held to be one of the founding fathers of the now much-maligned genre) suddenly re-surface after languishing in the studio vaults for 25 years, but the music turned out to be no less fresh and invigorating than the band's first two acclaimed albums, "Inner Mounting Flame" and "Birds of Fire".

At the time it would likely have been the last recorded effort of the original band: a dynamic outfit with too many personal and professional conflicts to survive over the long run. In a burst of incandescent creativity typical of their entire (too short) career, the Mahavishnus set down the basic tracks, more or less live in the studio, before circumstances led them to abandon the tapes and go their separate ways.

Fast forward a quarter of a century, when the forgotten album was resurrected and finally released in all its undoctored glory. Talk about a blast from the past: in an age of diminished aspirations these tapes provide a thrilling reminder of a time when music was something more than just another arm of the corporate entertainment octopus.

Of course it doesn't actually represent the intended album. It's easy to hear the spots where overdubbing might have been applied, but the lack of any final polish gives the music a stronger sense of immediacy and raw vitality. The 11-minute album opener "Dream" sets the bar, beginning in an acoustic, contemplative mood before shifting gears upward into an absolutely torrid jam. And Part II of the likewise McLaughlin-penned "Trilogy" features some of the guitarist's most overtly Rock-based playing since the "Jack Johnson" sessions with MILES DAVIS three years earlier.

A few shorter numbers authored by McLaughlin's disgruntled bandmates (who for some time had been lobbying for more compositional input) fill out the album, which concludes, as did the group itself, in a rush of nervous tension during the lamely-titled but compelling curtain closer, "John's Song".

It's a pity the original band couldn't have patched up their creative differences for the sake of such superlative music. But the brevity of their time together is part of what makes the music so valuable, and like any other rare gem this album is all the more precious for having been lost for so many years.

Members reviews

The Lost Trident Sessions is a real treat for fusion fans - the long-lost third album from the band's legendary original lineup, officially released after sitting in the vaults for 25 years. This time around John McLaughlin doesn't dominate the songwriting to the same extent as he did on the first two albums, with each of the other members except Billy Cobham contributing a composition of their own. (Billy, of course, had recorded his solo album Spectrum mere weeks previously, and so had already found an outlet for most of his compositions there.) The album leans closer to rock than the first two classic Mahavishnu albums, and has a tranquil, spacey atmosphere which lacks much in the way of the furiously fast playing of those discs. It's a mild departure for the Orchestra, but an intriguing one, and although the album was never finished it's clear that just a little more polish would have yielded a third essential fusion classic. But the skilled playing masks the discontent and personality clashes in the band that had already begun coming out by this point - to the extent that apparently some of the participants weren't even talking to each other - and the lineup would disintegrate before the album was completed, leaving McLaughlin to construct an entirely new lineup and release the live album Between Nothingness and Eternity - which consists of extended versions of the first three tracks from these sessions - instead of this one.

On balance, I wouldn't say this album is quite as essential to fusion listeners as the first two. It certainly wasn't as influential - how could it have been when it wasn't released? - and the new material, whilst good, still needs polish to come up to the standards of The Inner Mounting Flame or Birds of Fire. Still, anyone who's listened to those albums should regard this disc as the vital next step in any exploration of the Mahavishnu Orchestra's output.
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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