on 12 June 2012
The original line up's three studio albums are here (The Inner Mounting Flame, Birds of Fire & Lost Trident Sessions), remastered versions & all reviewed elsewhere on Amazon, not a lot needs to be said about them, pretty much seminal recordings from first to last song. I would point out that the Inner Mounting Flame has a bonus track, The Noonward Race, live from Mar Y Sol festival in 1972, this version is one of the most intense things I've ever heard them play.
The two real gems here are the remastered Between Nothingness & Eternity & the accompanying live bonus disc (over an hour of unrealeased music). The 1973 live album now sounds absolutely stunning, the bass & drums now come to the fore & there are riffs which seem to have been omitted from the original release, an astounding live album. The bunus disc is it's equal, if that's possible & we're treated to great live versions of Hope, Vital Transformation, One Word, Steppings Tones, Awakening & The Dance of Maya. I'm not one for bleating on so if you like the Mahavishnu Orchestra, you will love this - staggering from start to finish.
This box set amounts to the most complete (officially released) collection of music from the original version of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, the band assembled by guitarist John McLaughlin in mid-1971. They produced two studio albums (their attempt at a third finally appeared in 1999) and a live set, which was released shortly before they broke up at the end of 1973. Their technical ability, detailed polyrhythmic compositions (most of which were credited to McLaughlin) and powerful live performances garnered a following which belied the relative inaccessibility of their pioneering instrumental jazz-rock.
Fans already know all this history, and will already have the previously-released albums, so the real questions here concern the new material contained in this set. This consists of a sparkling 15 minute version of "The Noonward Race" from the band's performance at the Mar Y Sol festival on April 3, 1972 (which has previously been released on a compilation, and has been in unofficial circulation for some time), plus a completely new set (lasting just over an hour) of other tracks from the same concerts that produced the "Between Nothingness and Eternity" live album. The band's real forte was in live performance; they toured constantly, and their setlist was completely restricted to the material from the studio albums, so by the time their live show was recorded near the end of their career, they were able to make the execution of this complicated music sound effortless. To have these official live versions of these tracks (as opposed to bootleg-ed versions of varying quality) after such a long time is a real joy, and they perfectly complement the much-loved studio versions.
The packaging of this set is quite nice, with little cardboard sleeves for the discs, and a brief booklet (including some remarks about the band from McLaughlin) giving some recording information. Although it seems to be difficult to purchase in the UK at the moment, I'd recommend perseverance in trying to get hold of it, for the sake of the blistering live performances from this great band from long ago.
on 8 May 2013
You may well own "Inner Mountain Flame", "Birds of Fire", "Between Nothingness and Eternity" and "The Lost Sessions". If you are into The Mahavishnu Orchestra you SHOULD own them.
Well - here, you are going to own them again, and believe me it is worth it!
John McLaughlin, Jan Hammer, Rick Laird, Jerry Goodman and Billy Cobham - the ultimate band. The cohesion, the intensity is palpable; the energy is extraordinary, almost overwhelming.
This amazing group of musicians redefined music.
Jazz Fusion has often been a demanding genre to engage with; there are so many rock elements.
Well, the power of this band leave the likes of Led Zeppelin in the shade, not that I am making any direct comparisons.
Listening to Mahavishnu can be exhausting but, if you give it the space it needs - very rewarding.
I own all the albums mentioned above and treasure them. However this set has unreleased jewels.
"Inner Mountain Flame" has am extra track! A blistering live version of "Noonward Race"
Then on Disc 5 you get the "unreleased" tracks from "Between Nothingness and Eternity" - and this, in my humble opinion really makes this set worthwhile; if you have the others?
The ORIGINAL Mahavishnu Orchestra live and unleashed.
At the time of its release "Between Nothingness and Eternity" contained unreleased tracks; the studio versions eventually appeared on "The Lost Sessions". Now we have Mahavishnu classics from "Inner Mountain Flame" and "Birds of Fire" live for the first time!
Yes there have been countless bootlegs but this is "official".
Relive this amazing and extraordinary band; Jazz Fusion AT ITS BEST!
There are many excellent reviews of this outstanding package already so I'll try to keep this brief.
What you get is five disks, each in its own stiff card sleeve with the original album artwork, in a good quality hinged box together with a 16-page illustrated booklet. Fans will doubtless already have the three studio albums - `The Inner Mounting Flame', `Birds of Fire' and the finally-released-in-1999 `The Lost Trident Sessions' - in at least one format, plus the live-in-Central-Park album `Between Nothingness and Eternity' from August 1973.
Disk 5 contains the rest of the August 1973 concert, hitherto unreleased. The remastering of the three studio albums is very good, but of the two live-in-Central-Park disks it's sublime. Every instrument is sharp, clear, in perfect balance and overall a big improvement on all previous releases of BNaE, which has always been criticised (justifiably) as having less-than-optimal sound quality.
The remastering of BoF and TLTS brings out the mid-range and treble and is more obviously different/brighter than previous mixes, whereas TIMF sounds warmer and differs less from earlier mixes, especially the original vinyl album from 1971. TIMF contains a 15-minute bonus track of `The Noonward Race' recorded live-on-stage at the Mar Y Sol Festival in Puerto Rico in April 1972.
Fans of this epic five-piece band will already know the visceral power of this complex and energetic music. Inside the high-octane intensity rock music nests the subtle complexities of jazz. Full of frenzied virtuoso playing, sudden time signature changes and complex musical patterns interwoven and multiply layered, there's never been anything quite like it.
on 10 November 2014
This was only purchased for the remixed live album "Between Nothingness and Eternity" and the "Unreleased tracks from Nothingness and Eternity". It was well worth the money too.
The original live album always sounded a little "thin" to me, but this remixed album is a monster. Everything is louder and the drums sound a lot beefier. The second disc has some real gems on there, especially the extended 14 minute version of "Dance of Maya" -
The other albums aren't any different to previous releases except for "The Inner Mounting Flame" which has a live version of "Noonward Race" tagged on the end of the album.
The discs are presented in card slip sleeve cases, with a booklet in a simple box. Nothing too fancy. The fancy stuff is on the discs!
Top stuff from a top band.
on 27 September 2013
This is the most sublime music. The musicianship is quite unbelievable. Every player is playing at the top of their game. Cobham's drums, McLaughlin at his finest moment, Jan Hammer sublime solos, Rick Laird jaw dropping bass and Jerry Goodman defining jazz rock violin. Each album is flawless. The live bonus CD is a real treat. It is argued that Miles Davies ground breaking jazz rock fusion albums Bitches Brew and In a Silent Way was the birth of a new music. If that this was the birth then this is the teenage years of jazz rock fusion. Full of energy, bursting with creativity, complex time signatures, fiendish chord changes with elaborate lead lines interwoven. The speed of the playing is pure virtuoso. It must be interesting for these musicians to look back at the CD's on this compilation and think, I was at my finest. Pure channeled inspiration. A masterpiece. Buy it.
on 18 November 2013
I have to admit, although I like my prog rock, I never really regarded myself as a Mahavishnu fan. I bought 'Inner mounting flame' some thirty years ago from a second-hand record shop in Bristol and enjoyed a couple of the more accessible tracks ('Dawn' and 'You know, you know') but didn't really bother with the rest of the album. I thought it was bit cold, technical and lacking in melody. However, somewhere at the back of my mind I always felt I never gave Mahavishnu a fair shake, so with an immeasurably better stereo system and our subsequent advance into the digital age, I thought I would give the band another try with this not-too-daunting limited box set from their classic 1971-73 line up. I'm really glad I made the effort.
Mahavishnu Orchestra's music is intense and demanding and is certainly an acquired taste. Their style is harsh, austere, angular, strident, bombastic and a bit bonkers. However, once your ears start to become attuned to the thunder and the fury you start to discern little ribbons of melody and clever rhythmic patterns running under the surface. Coherent tunes start to present themselves, albeit not in an obvious, orthodox fashion, and the whole piece slowly starts to come together. The three studio albums are formidable and compelling. The synergy and interplay between the musicians is spell-binding and the music has a visceral, exuberant quality. Your ear is constantly drawn to the stunning individual performances on offer...McGlaughlin's splenetic, freewheeling guitar, the torrent of noise from that insane violin, Hammer's moody, agile keyboard-work knitting everything together. Billy Cobham's drumming is stunning and worth the price of admission alone. It's not all bile and thunder, though. The light and shade in the performances, the quieter, reflective passages, the subtler, almost pretty interludes provide amazing contrast to the main barn-storming event. What a pity this line up only recorded three studio albums. I'm less convinced about the two live CDs. The recording is less pin-sharp and the performances are inevitably less concise and more drawn out and indulgent.
Just a quick word about the sound on these remasters. In a word, excellent. 'Birds of fire' and 'The lost Trident sessions' are mastered very slightly on the bright side, which I really like, given the denseness and complexity of the performances. 'Inner mounting flame' is slightly warmer with a bit less top-end, but the sound is still perfectly adequate.
All things considered, this is a great box set and at such a reasonable price my advice would be take a bit of a risk, be prepared to put in a bit of time and effort and you may well be rewarded.
on 29 July 2013
well i have all the lps and cds, and even mar y sol lp, but this contains the extra live stuff from between nothingness and thats worth me buying again, i remember as a young guitarist and wanting to be the fastest and this changed my whole approach, of course i was missing the point of spiritual intensity and john has continued to this day, he continues to be one of the greatest influences of many guitarists and of other great guitarists, we need to play this to the new generations and it will continue to inspire them to the sometimes short bland fixes they have now. of course there are others chick corea and weather report to name two.
if you have not got it it has to be amongst the best music alongside the greats of miles and coltrane and all the the other improvising musicians.
on 1 July 2012
This is worth it just for the wonderful unreleased Live CD, and I have to disagree with another review about the sound quality of the other re-releases, because they are MUCH better sounding than any previous releases as I have all of them from the vinyl to original CD to various remasters.
VERY worthwhile grabbing this before it disappears, just like most other Legacy limited editions, although I got it on Amazon UK for £26 and now they want £41...hmmm??
on 2 July 2012
This box has just arrived from the USA and does not disappoint. If you know the band then you know what to expect, staggering musicianship and mind bogglingly complex improvising. So far I've listened to the live disc which I've had on vinyl and cd before. The remaster is very nice, the bass drum is now deeper and the mix isn't as muddy as previous versions. Also the bass is now audible with some wonderful playing on track one.
The only problem I have is that I had to pay a customs charge of £12 so be aware of this when deciding whether to buy from America! ( quite why this is unavailable in the UK I don't know )