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Album Review

The state of the second Mahavishnu Orchestra continued to be volatile in 1975, with violinist Jean-Luc Ponty out, keyboardist Gayle Moran replaced by Stu Goldberg, and all string and horn backings removed, leaving just a steaming quartet and this lone remarkable album. The addition of Goldberg, a more interesting musician than Moran, is significant, but the biggest charge is provided by the leader who, in tandem with the latest electronic equipment, turns in some of his most passionately alive playing of the whole Mahavishnu series. The leadoff track, "All in the Family," has fantastic energy and drive, pushed on by Narada Michael Walden's drums and marimba. "Miles Out" has John McLaughlin doing some inspired jamming with his guitar hooked into a "360 Systems Frequency Shifter" (an electronic device with the wildly fluid sound of a ring-modulator), and he moves over to an early guitar synthesizer on "Morning Calls," "Lotus Feet," and the streaking title track. There is some funk residue from Visions of the Emerald Beyond on "Planetary Citizen," yet oddly enough, the so-so soul vocals from Walden on several tracks, and one by bassist Ralphe Armstrong, do not harm the cause, as the playing of the quartet is so fiery. But this somewhat overlooked album would be the last hurrah for the Mahavishnu concept for nearly a decade — and when it returned, the sounds it produced would bear little resemblance to this power-packed music. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi


Born: 04 January 1942 in Yorkshire, England

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of fusion's most virtuosic guitar soloists, John McLaughlin placed his blazing speed in the service of a searching spiritual passion that has kept his music evolving and open to new influences. Whether shredding on electric or simmering quietly on acoustic, McLaughlin's intensity and underappreciated versatility have nearly always kept his playing vital, and his best moments -- whether as a solo artist or bandmember -- represent some of fusion's greatest recordings. McLaughlin was born January...
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