MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA — Between Nothingness & Eternity (review)

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA — Between Nothingness & Eternity album cover Live album · 1973 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
2.5/5 ·
Chicapah
Heck, you gotta give these guys a star just for having the bon bons to try this. Recording your third album with all new material in a live concert setting where you only get one shot to get it right. Outdoors. In New York's Central Park, no less. Anyway, one of the things I love about their first two albums was how their light-speed madness was countered with very delicate and emotional passages. I think the fact that they were in a studio environment was the key to their success because it gave them the ability to control it all and give the songs an identity. Unfortunately, too much of that is lost on stage. A gong starts things off with a trilogy of John McLaughlin tunes joined together. "The Sunlit Path" is a ferocious duel between his turbo charged guitar and Jan Hammer's Rhodes piano, "La Mere De La Mer" features violinist Jerry Goodman and drummer Billy Cobham firing rounds at each other and "Tomorrow's Story Not The Same" finds things taking on a rock feel where the violin, guitar and Moog battle it out until they all collapse in a frantic ending. Hammer's "Sister Andrea" establishes a funky rhythm before it drops into a kind of free-form segment between the piano and guitar. They climb back into the funk again and the violin and Moog get the spotlight for the rest of the song. McLaughlin's "Dream" is an aggressive, adventurous attempt at an almost 22 minute epic that probably worked better if you were there in person than it does on record. It has a subtle beginning with John playing acoustic guitar in a flowing duet with Goodman's violin. A fast paced undertow rises up from the band to change the mood before they drop out again and the guitar starts playing a blazing pattern while the piano solos overhead. After a wild, manic moment you are treated to what sounds like a jazz/rock fusion interpretation of the highly recognizable guitar riff from Cream's "Sunshine of your Love." Yes, it's strange. They then retreat to a blistering musical argument between the drums and guitar that goes on for way too long. Things get crazy again before Rick Laird's steady bass calms things down for the violin and guitar to shine before the piece ends quietly.

This was the last album we'd get from the original lineup. When musicians are as uniquely talented as they obviously are it's nearly impossible to keep them in one band for very long. This was a bold move for them that fell short of the mark and may well have hastened their breakup. I highly recommend the first two albums but this one is only for those who want to hear how fast they could play outside the confines of the studio or just want to own everything they recorded. It's by no means terrible but I rate it as average overall. Kind of a curiosity piece at best.

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