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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You know you know
I've been looking forward to reading this book for a long time - ever, in fact, since learning about its origins in Walter Kolosky's posts on the John McLaughlin mailing lists many years ago. Kolosky's enthusiasm for the band spills out of every page (and even appears in the title, which lets you know up front that you're not about to read the most objective,...
Published on 16 Nov 2009 by Jeremy Walton

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3.0 out of 5 stars A lot of passion
A book for fans, but a bit more criticism would have been nice. Why did Mahavishnu Orchestra 1 really split up? This book very cautiously hints at John McLaughlin's personality as being the main cause, but carefully moves around this subject. It seems that in order to get the approval of all band members, the author steers away from the topic. The author's passion for the...
Published on 29 Oct 2011 by J. M. Roncken


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You know you know, 16 Nov 2009
By 
Jeremy Walton (Sidmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Power, Passion And Beauty: The Story of the Legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra : The Greatest Band that ever was (Paperback)
I've been looking forward to reading this book for a long time - ever, in fact, since learning about its origins in Walter Kolosky's posts on the John McLaughlin mailing lists many years ago. Kolosky's enthusiasm for the band spills out of every page (and even appears in the title, which lets you know up front that you're not about to read the most objective, dispassionate account in the world), but this has been backed up with a great deal of research, as he's made an extraordinary effort to track down and obtain comments from nearly 150 people who were either involved with the band (including all five of the original members), or who have been affected by it.

To start with, he marshalls his material very well indeed, concentrating on the presentation of a detailed and coherent account of the band's origins and guitarist John McLaughlin's work in assembling its first lineup which, beginning in mid-1971, lasted for just two and a half years. During that time, they recorded two studio albums (their attempts at a third were finally released in 1999) and a live set, and toured more or less continuously. Their technical ability, detailed polyrhythmic compositions and powerful live performances garnered a following which, considering the relative inaccessibility of their pioneering instrumental jazz-rock (at least when compared to the mainstream of pop and rock) was remarkable. Internal tensions caused this lineup to split at the end of 1973, and McLaughlin immediately put together a completely new version of the band. Following accepted wisdom in the fanbase, Kolosky doesn't pay this version (or subsequent incarnations of the band) so much attention, believing that the first lineup was unique.

This story is clearly a labour of love for the author, and I found that it mostly exceeded my expectations. The assembly of quotations are fascinating and provide genuine insight into the history and development of the band (some of my favourites come from three-quarters of the original Pat Metheny Group, describing their separate reactions to hearing the band at the University of Miami in 1972). For the most part, the author only provides linking material between the quotations (except at the end of the book, where he absents himself altogether), but it's a pity that his obvious enthusiasm for his subject isn't matched by the quality of his prose, which can be disconcertingly clunky (e.g. "He instantly became quite angry" [p210]) with a few misused words (I think "nebulous" [p54] and "triangulation" [p56] don't have the meanings that their sentences intend). But that's probably to pick holes in a nice piece of work that sent me back to listen once again to the music. Which, of course, is what it's all about.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the Jazz Rock Fusion Universe, 9 Jun 2007
This review is from: Power, Passion And Beauty: The Story of the Legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra : The Greatest Band that ever was (Paperback)
The author is a keen fan of the Mahavishnu Orchestra; they are described as 'Legendary', the 'Greatest Band that ever was', 'loudest and fastest band in the entire world'. A substantial part of this work focuses on the definitive first line up of the Mahavishnu Orchestra; John McLaughlin (guitar), Billy Cobham (drums), Jan Hammer (keyboards), Jerry Goodman (violin), and Rick Laird (bass). The original band performed highly influential jazz rock instrumentals, were New York based , and released 'Inner Mounting Flame' (1971), 'Birds of Fire' (1972) and after studio sessions for a third album simply didn't work due to acrimony amongst the group, a live release featuring new material 'Between Nothingness and Eternity' appeared late in 1973. Ferociously loud, their name comes from a title that the guru Sri Chinmoy gave to John McLaughlin, his devotee at the time. The group featured art work and poetry on their album sleeves drawing on Eastern mysticism. The writer certainly shows that the Mahavishnu Orchestra were dynamic and exciting, and certainly not mellow or placid. They came to prominence supporting the likes of Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, in the 'States, but soon became headliners themselves. The background of the musicians is described in great detail, and John McLaughlin is shown to have both a rock and jazz pedigree as it were; in fact leaving his native UK to join Miles Davis' band in 1967 . The account of the rise and fall of the Mahavishnu Orchestra mark one is well documented here and the second Mahavishnu Orchestra line up, put together by John McLaughlin in 1974 but also featuring some other crucial artists such as Narada Michael Walden, and the three CDs recorded by the new group, are covered extensively.

Walter Kolosky is an accomplished Jazz writer , has collected articles on the Mahavishnu Orchestra since 1973, but the great strength of the book that the tale of the Mahavishnu Orchestra is

revealed via new interviews of some 150 contemporary musicians and associates along with the band members themselves; Pat Metheny, Jeff Beck, various members of Aerosmith, Steve Morse, Sir George Martin are amongst those who have contributed. Mr. Kolosky's devotion to the group has led him to ensure that the book highlights a huge amount of original work. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Book Ever Written about The Greatest Band That Ever Was., 16 Oct 2014
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The Greatest Book Ever Written about The Greatest Band That Ever Was. An absolute must for anyone interested in Great Music. While John McLaughlin is generally recognized for his guitar playing skills, I feel he is still underrated, or even unrecognized, as a great contemporary composer, especially his compositions for The Mahavishnu Orchestra. Fortunately, this book goes some way to correct that lack of understanding. Mr. Kolosky uses a chronological format to great effect. He skillfully traces the evolution of JM's music journey. We see McLaughlin's earliest influences and then the evolutionary (or should it be revolutionary?) path he has taken. Please do yourself a favor and get this eBook 2013 Edition.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, 11 July 2013
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This is the book I've been waiting for. A great book of a great band that covers their musical legacy in depth.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A lot of passion, 29 Oct 2011
By 
J. M. Roncken (Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Power, Passion And Beauty: The Story of the Legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra : The Greatest Band that ever was (Paperback)
A book for fans, but a bit more criticism would have been nice. Why did Mahavishnu Orchestra 1 really split up? This book very cautiously hints at John McLaughlin's personality as being the main cause, but carefully moves around this subject. It seems that in order to get the approval of all band members, the author steers away from the topic. The author's passion for the band is a bit too much for the list of musicians praising the band is very long. Another point of criticism: the other versions of the MO are hardly highlighted. They deserve more! I have never seen the MO 1 live, but I have seen the MO 2 in Belgium (Jazz Bilzen 1974). I recognize the intense power of their live performances as beautifully described in the book many times. For the rest a very nice book, very readable and it depicts a good image of time and age. An enjoyable read.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mahavishnu primer, 3 July 2007
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This review is from: Power, Passion And Beauty: The Story of the Legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra : The Greatest Band that ever was (Paperback)
Useful and readable insight into the world of the Mahavishnu Orchestra made up of dozens of interviews with the main protagonists; the musicians, the road crew, the managers, the critics.

Not too heady a book but some knowledge of the collected works of the Orchestra is pretty much a pre-requisite for the experience.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Quite "The Greatest Band that ever was", 13 Jan 2008
By 
Lee Hibbert "JazzRock and Prog Lover" (Maidenhead, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Power, Passion And Beauty: The Story of the Legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra : The Greatest Band that ever was (Paperback)
A very enjoyable and easy read.

It really helps to explain the rise and fall of MO mk1, with great quotes from the main protagonists and other musicians of the time.

As has been said an intimate knowledge of their albums is essential.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Power, Passion, Beauty and a little Repetitious, 12 July 2011
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This review is from: Power, Passion And Beauty: The Story of the Legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra : The Greatest Band that ever was (Paperback)
The book is a collection of quotes from a wide selection of personnel, including most former band-members, producers and a host of other respected musicians. It is undoubtedly well-researched and the work is one of passion which equals that of the author for the band's output. However, on the negative side, this style can be somewhat bitty. Also, there are too many comments just espousing the virtues of the band, and not adding much else. It is nevertheless a must-have purchase for any self-respecting Mahavishnu enthusiast, and can open up several avenues worthy of further exploration.
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