This is guitarist John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra's debut recording, and although there are some rough edges to a few of the pieces, this is a quality album of early '70s jazz-rock fusion (with the emphasis more on rock than jazz). The line-up of the band is impressive, with McLaughlin on guitars, Jerry Goodman on violin, Billy Cobham on drums, Rick Laird on bass and Jan Hammer on keyboards. The addition of Goodman gives the band a very different (and much copied) texture, and his solos are highly impressive. McLaughlin is in-your-face as usual, and this follows directly on from his work with Miles Davis.
The first track (Meeting of the Spirits) is probably the best track on the album (though maybe You Know, You Know pushes it very close indeed), with it's quick-fire guitar and violin lines, and the virtuosic drumming of Cobham, who is excellent all through the performance. The piece is in three, and that's what really gives it a very different feel to most of the rock that you hear (the repetetive riff is very catchy). You Know, You Know contains another repetetive figure, but this time the atmosphere is far more relaxed, and the long silences at the beginning are inspired. Jan Hammer brings a more avante-garde spirit to the band with some very individual and quirky solos (he really likes using that pitch bender). The only thing that doesn't work is A Lotus on Irish Streams. McLaughlin's twanging on acoustic guitar and the meandering tune just don't fit with the spirit of the album.
This is the definitive recording of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and well worth getting hold of , if you're a Hendrix fan or keen on the rockier side of fusion.