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Natural Elements (With John McLaughlin)

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Album Review

For his next act, the decibel champion of electric jazz shocked the world by unplugging and returning to South Indian music before an excitable audience at South Hampton College. Yet the alert John McLaughlin follower will note that beyond the reliance upon South Indian instruments and scales, there are unbroken links to records like My Goal's Beyond and the high-speed electric music that McLaughlin was casting aside at the moment. McLaughlin called his new quintet Shakti, which means "creative intelligence and beauty and power" and the music here has all of that and something else, a ferocious streak inherited from the Mahavishnu days. McLaughlin ignites "Joy" by playing at a blazing speed, his cohorts Lakshminarayana Shankar (violin), Ramnad V. Raghavan and T.H. Vinayakram (mridangam), and Zakir Hussain (tabla) keeping up with the furious unison tempos with great dexterity and discipline, while a reworking of "Lotus Feet" forms a meditative interlude. Side two is taken up by a single, lengthy raga-like track in which McLaughlin combines his rapid-fire Western manner with note-bending techniques clearly emulating a sitar, and the Indians get plenty of dueling room. In its way, this fire-eating acoustic music is just as energizing as the most electrified Mahavishnu flights. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Polished Classic from Supreme Musicians

The review posted here from the All Music Guide is not for this recording but for the first, live recording of this group from a few years earlier. Natural Elements was, I believe, the third recording from this ground breaking east-west acoustic fusion ensemble led by the great guitarist, John McLaughlin. It remains as stunningly beautiful today in its taste, virtuosity and sheer joy of music making as it was when it was released in 1977. You won't hear better music than this in any genre, ever.

Mind Blowing music

This is a great album and unique because each song is brilliant. I was fortunate to be able to watch Shakti in concert in Madras (1984) soon after they released this album. I went back stage and spoke with John McLaughlin. When I asked him how he played so fast, his calm reply was, "Its not how fast you play, but to play with soul"...

this is it.

like spalpin says - this is it, the best ever in the genre. very few have come close. crisp production with a sound that pulsates with life, clarity, taste and grandeur. mclaughlin says just enough in the most appropriate manner. arguably, shankar's is the deepest it gets when it comes to any indian musician's understanding of a foreign tongue. check out how vikku bends notes on the pot and provides insanely appropriate accents. and of course, zakir hussain's tabla sings.


Formed: 1975

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s

As jazz-rock fusion pioneer John McLaughlin delved deeper into Eastern spirituality and mysticism, he developed a corresponding interest in the music of South India. Following the collapse of the second version of the Mahavishnu Orchestra in 1975, McLaughlin put together Shakti, an outfit dedicated to fusing high-energy jazz and Indian music. In addition to McLaughlin (who played acoustic guitar instead of his customary electric), Shakti featured violinist Lakshminarayana Shankar, tabla player Zakir...
Full Bio
Natural Elements (With John McLaughlin), Shakti
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  • $7.92
  • Genres: Pop, Music, Jazz, Fusion
  • Released: Jul 05, 1975

Customer Ratings