Most Helpful First | Newest First
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great example of seventies jazz-rock fusion.,
By A Customer
'Visions of the Emerald Beyond' was made by a new lineup of the orchestra, with only front man John McLaughlin remaining from the original band that stunned its seventies audiences. Amongst the new performers were veteran jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and drummer Michael Walden, who was brought on for the difficult task of succeeding original drummer Billy Cobham. Unlike previous Mahavishnu albums, there are some vocals on 'Visions' sung by several of the instrumentalists. On the whole I think that the purely instrumental tunes are the better ones, with 'Lila's Dance' and 'Pastoral' standing out in particular. McLaughlin's guitar outbursts on the former are incredible. The latter is a beautiful acoustic composition which boasts some breathtaking violin solos, and is my favourite on the album, (not least because I am a violin player myself). The only down-point is that a few of the songs aren't so well-written, although in every case the actual instrument playing is inspired. 'Visions of the Emerald Beyond' contains an amazing mix of jazz and rock, some lightning-fast guitar playing, and is one of the most original albums you're ever likely to hear.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ignore First Impressions AND Play 'Spot the Time Signature',
When I first heard this album I thought "oh my gawd, what's this?". Evidently a long way from the 'classic' first line up of the Mahvishnu Orchestra, this album amply illustrates the ill-advised drift from jazz-rock to jazz-funk in the mid-1970s. The song titles don't help much (Can't Stand Your Funk, Cosmic Strut etc), hinting at the awkward mix of eastern mysticism and funk on display here.
And yet . . . .
Having listened to this album many times, it's grown on me. The opening two-part 'Eternity's Breath' starts with a killer riff and goes on to feature outstanding soloing from McLaughlin and Ponty, and some complex intertwining melodies on part 2. I agree with others that Lila's Dance is probably the best track on the album, a Jekyll-and-Hyde track that starts with a typical arpeggiated McLaughlin riff before morphing, quite suddenly, into a rock groove with JM attacking his guitar like a man perhaps starting to get a bit frustrated with the musical medium he was finding himself in. This is emphasised on the final track on which his guitar is put through some pretty extreme (and at times dissonant) ring-modulation. If this was meant as some kind of 'worship' for the band's spiritual mentor then he/she/it must have had their proverbial fingers in their ears!
Michael Walden's drumming is powerful throughout, bordering on the frenetic, an adjective that can be applied to several of the compositions. It's no surprise that McLaughlin disbanded the MO soon after to concentate on Shakti, a different group altogether.
Finally, I'd recommend this album to any music teacher who wants to illustrate differing time signatures to students. I'm no expert but I reckon there isn't one 4/4 composition here - there's a bit of 3/4 but elsewhere there's 7/8, 10/8, 20/8, 11/4 etc - no wonder the time sigs have been described as 'insane'!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Power and the Glory,
I bought this off the back of a review by I think Chris Welch in Melody Maker in 1973/1974 entitled as above claiming that in this album there was "More than enough music for everyone". He was right. This is a fantastic record and it really set new standards for jazz - rock fusion. It has jazz, blues, rock, soul, funk and a few more genres besides - played with passion and virtuosity. Michael Walden, Ralphe Armstrong and Jean-Luc Ponty really make this record. The drumming in particular is spectacular. I still play this regularly and it would certainly be in my list of the top 20 rock albums ever made.
5.0 out of 5 stars expanding minds,
An excellent album. Amazing drumming from Michael Walden and spectacular flurries from Jean Luc. Just how I remember them. Must complete my back issues collection.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast efficient reliable service,
Was bought for a friend. He was very pleased with the cd and the efficient service. Would use again :)
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbeatable,
By A Customer
I'm no more important than anyone else, but I have spent many years listening to all sorts of albums from all sorts of groups across all sorts of genres, and in my opinion this is THE best album I've ever heard.
Masterful compositions, awesome playing, power-driven funk to transport you to another dimension. Has me in tears of awe every time. Buy it!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Incarnation...,
... of M.O.
John Luc Ponty's sparring with Macca destroys Jerry Goodman, and even the singing bits are enjoyable. Macca's on fire, and NMW is a more than able stand-in for the uber-phenomenal Billy Cobham.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good,
They are a great band so anything is going to be pretty incredible, this album is different and still great
Most Helpful First | Newest First