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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jazz meets Hendrix, 4 Mar 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Inner Mounting Flame (Audio CD)
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.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars my favourite record of all time, 18 April 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Inner Mounting Flame (Audio CD)
Meeting of the Spirits and You Know You Know are magical and the only track that drags is 'Lotus' which is incongruous to the whole. The drumming is breathtaking with changes in time signatures which seem impossible. The guitar, violin and electric piano complement each other perfectly. I saw the band when they played at the Crystal Palace Bowl in London circa 1971 and it changed my life. Fusion has a reputation for being pompous and pretentious but this record is neither - just a group of virtuoso musicians making a great sound and creating a mystical atmosphere - even for an agnostic!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music, the like of which you'll have never heard before, 27 May 2009
This review is from: The Inner Mounting Flame (Audio CD)
I'm in my mid-50s now, yet this album is still the most extraordinary piece of music I have ever heard. It also changed my life when I first heard it - under the bed covers listening to John Peel on my pocket trannie in 1973; and I remember how enthused John was with the album (before it became hip to loath jazz fusion). I'd never ever heard music like it before, and I haven't since, either. I profoundly disagree with the other two reviewers about 'Lotus on Irish Streams' - McLaughlin's, Goodman's and Hammer's playing on this dream-of-a-track is quite breathtaking, and for me their soaring spiritual synergy sums up what the original Orchestra was all about. As the book on the Orchestra says, this truly was 'the greatest band that ever was'. At less than a fiver, this is unbelievable value - and if you're wondering what all the fuss is about via-a-vis John McLaughlin's legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra, this has to be the definitive place to start.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Definitive Moment in Fusion, 14 Aug 2006
By 
Steve Keen "therealus" (Herts, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Over thirty years ago I gave someone Home's The Alchemist (Whose What?) in exchange for this album. It was the best trade I ever did. A long time later I discovered In a Silent Way, Miles Davis's seminal fusion album featuring John McLaughlin on guitar, but for a long time, The Mahavishnu Orchestra was fusion.

The opening track, Meeting of the Spirits, sets a breakneck pace. It's like an updated Ride of the Valkyries, same loping 3/4 time signature, at the beginning. It then lays back a little, and then gets right back into it. Billy Cobham's drums drive the pace, and McLaughlin and violinist Jerry Goodman fire out musical bullets. Should anyone ever remake Apocalypse Now, Colonel Kilgore's Air Cav could easily (albeit anachronistically) ride into action to the sounds of Mahavishnu in place of Wagner.

Alternatively, you could do a pretty martial waltz to it!

A couple more perfect fusion storms are followed by the pastoral calm of A Lotus on Irish Streams, in which Jan Hammer's fluttering piano complements perfectly the gentle violin and acoustic guitar. Hammer would later go on to add the theme tune icing to the Miami Vice style cake.

On vinyl that was the closing track of side one.

Side two heralded more stormy weather and some weird fusion time signatures begin, making the rhythm more edgy - and more challenging if all you came to do was dance. This was made at a time when King Crimson's Bob Fripp was boasting of his use of 12/13 time or some such, and McLaughlin joined in the party. But don't ask me what the time signature is. I can't count that fast.

Again Cobham drives the pace, with crackling drum and sizzling hi hat, but the power of Rick Laird's bass underpins the enterprise when the drums fly off the edge of the disc, as they often do. There are some staggering changes in pace. The band is a fine-tuned, fuel-injected motor and the slightest touch on the gas pedal sends it careening down the road. One second you're laying back, taking in the vibe, the next you've turned a corner and in the fast lane experiencing a nose-bleed inducing g-force.

Dance of Maya at one point falls into a syncopated blues figure, catapults into a driving guitar-led melee, then just as easily falls into a 3/4 phase interrupted every few bars by a slow roll on drums.

The final track, Awakening, is like the rousing of a tiger, and it's mad! Before it's done it's growled, screamed and roared, and totally eviscerated the alarm clock.

Awakening? If this stuff doesn't do to it to you, you're long dead.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite five, 4 Oct 2007
By 
DB "davidbirkett" (Co. Kildare, Ireland (but born & raised Liverpool, UK)) - See all my reviews
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I never heard this on vinyl, but when I replaced my "Birds of Fire" album through Amazon, they recommended this and I thought, why not? I'm very glad I treated myself. If anything, the virtuosity is even more jaw-dropping than the later album. There is however a lack of polish and planning which takes an edge off for me. Maybe if I had heard this one first my views would have been reversed. Who knows? Anyway, I'm hooked now, and some of the other Mahavishnu albums are going up on my wish-list.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Influential Classic, 6 April 2008
By 
John F (Staffordshire) - See all my reviews
I recently purchased this CD and it sounds just as groundbreaking now as it must have done in 1972. I much prefer this album to 'Birds of Fire' even though there are no synthesizers on it. I think it sounds more focused and intense. You can hear how this album influenced mid 70s progressive rock while inspiring a new generation of British Jazz rock bands.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible, 22 Sep 2007
By 
M. Jones (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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I've always enjoyed listening to Jazz, and probably became interested in John McLaughlin through Miles Davis' work. I bought "Birds of Fire" and was immediately hooked, amazed by both the mystic slant of this type of jazz fusion and the amazing tight production.
I recently aquired Inner Mounting Flame and was just blown away by this album; it is far more adventurous than Birds of Fire and in many ways more enjoyable for it. Its a showcase for the talents of all four members and all the tracks are just incredible to listen to; check out the opening to the final track Awakening and you will see what I mean.
A worthy addition to any collection, whatever your tastes.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ban the word 'fusion' - You Know You Know., 19 Sep 2014
By 
Gareth Smyth "Enjilos" (County Mayo, Ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Inner Mounting Flame (Audio CD)
John McLaughlin came out of the electric Miles period but he also came from Yorkshire. Billy Cobham came from Panama and Rick Laird came for Dublin and (I think) had played with Stan Tracey.

So of course, it's fusion. It's also music.

If you haven't heard it, get it.

And if you have heard it: You Know You Know.
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5.0 out of 5 stars mind blowing, 5 Dec 2012
This review is from: The Inner Mounting Flame (Audio CD)
This was the record that made me want to play drums -I do- but not like this ha ! How it is possible I havnt yet fathomed .This was also Billy Cobhams first go at using 2 bass drums again madness. To this day when my drum students rave about some great new speed king and ask me my opinion - I point them to the master - Billy .That guitarist aint bad either !
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mindboggling playing, 23 Sep 2011
By 
Mike Davey (St Georges, Telford) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Inner Mounting Flame (Audio CD)
For me this is one of the great records, regardless of genre. John Mclaughlin impressed Miles Davis and demonstrated his prowess on Bitches Brew and never looked back. I just love the powerhouse ensemble interaction of all the msuicians on this record and find it one of life's energising experiences.

John has long had a spiritual focus to his life and work and it shows here. I just appreciate it for the music. Apart from John's guitar I always get blown away by Billy Cobham's incredible drumming. The control of the time changes are truly awe inspiring.

An absolute classic.
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