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Bathed in Lightning: John Mclaughlin, the 60s and the Emerald Beyond Paperback – 26 Mar 2014

4.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Jawbone (26 Mar. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908279516
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908279514
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 362,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Colin Harper wrote professionally on music for The Independent, Irish Times, Mojo and other titles during the 1990s. He is the author of Dazzling Stranger: Bert Jansch and the British folk and blues revival (Bloomsbury, 2000; revised 2006 and 2011) and co-author of Irish Folk, Trad and Blues: A Secret History (Collins Press, 2004).


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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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Colin Harper's books are never short on detail, but more importantly, deliver a writer's masterclass in what to do with that detail. Comprehensively covering a period of McLaughlin's career that has been overlooked for the most part (1942-1975), Colin also manages to capture the sights and sounds of an era in excellent prose.

The book is literally bursting with familiar names one does not usually associate with John McLaughlin. Even in terms of the period that "everybody knows", you can find new nuggets of information. However, it is the capture of the British music scene of the 1960s that truly surprises. The book covers McLaughlin's involvements with Georgie Fame, Brian Auger, Duffy Power, Graham Bond, Jimmy Page, Danny Thompson, Jack Bruce, Ronnie Scott, Eric Clapton, Herbie Goins, Ray Ellington, Alexis Korner, Carlos Santana, the Mahavishnu Orchestras, his time with Miles Davis and even the likes of his session work with the likes of Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach. It's all there, with scene-setting, additional notes for the curious, pulling stories long-buried in countless music magazines and newspapers, as well as first hand from many of those who were there.

McLaughlin himself did not wish to participate with the making of the book in any way, but gave Harper his blessing. Does the book suffer for the lack of McLaughlin's direct input? Not in any obvious sense. Perhaps some additional details might have been clarified, of an extra anecdote or two would be present. But it is hard to imagine that Colin Harper has missed much.

To put it briefly, this is a broad subject (the British music scene, with jazz in particular) given a clarity of focus through an interesting lens (the career of John McLaughlin) in an entirely readable, enjoyable style. The book is a must for anyone with an interest in McLaughlin's career or British jazz of the 1960s.
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Success is not all you wish for and it lends a bitter-sweet overtone to this exhaustively researched biography. It was interesting seeing McLaughlin through the eyes of his contemporaries and observing his drive to find his own voice. The author has made a very wise decision to document his rise in this time frame, as it deals with one of the most interesting periods of English music from one of the most neglected points of view.
I certainly learnt a lot about the London session scene and the struggle that many jazz musicians had in this era. Read in combination with Jack Bruce's biography and that of Jon Hiseman gives a fascinating insight into the difficulties of trying to pursue your creative impulses. The interesting conclusion is that you cannot escape the demons that pursue you unless you are prepared to face up to them without recourse to drugs or spirituality. The dangers of pursuing you musical vision at the expense of understanding the human frailties of the people you work or live with is a common theme in the music industry. The sad fact is that when you dedicate yourself to mastering your art it becomes an all consuming passion and there are many things that get sacrificed along the way. The rigorous hours of practise and performance are not always conducive to relationships, personal or professional. McLaughlin found that not everyone shared his goals or his sense of self-discipline.
I do find it quite inspiring that McLaughlin has over the last decade been producing some of the most exciting and creative music of his career. Certainly the One Truth band is at least as intense as the first Mahavishnu Orchestra - well at least in my humble opinion. What this book shows is this musicians constant desire to drive forward and not look back.
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The book is about a lot of things, it's also about John Mclaughlin. The author cites pages and pages of articles by people writing about John and their impressions of him as an artist. A few citations like this would be OK, but this makes up a large portion of the book. And often the citations are nice, but don't say much, besides John is awesome. He also spends pages talking about people associated with John. I am interested in knowing about people that influenced him, but pages talking about them weighs the whole thing down. On the other hand, the book says little about John's playing style, techniques used in his playing, etc. I got to the end knowing that John is a truly great guitarist who played with several bands and did a lot of concerts. With a 500 page book, I was hoping for something more. The book does say a lot about John's religious ideas which is probably the one thing the author develops well.
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By Jeremy Walton TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 Nov. 2014
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In spite of being a long-standing fan of guitarist John McLaughlin, I had only a hazy idea of what he'd been doing before the day he flew to America for the first time on February 16, 1969. It's better known that he'd made the trip at the invitation of drummer Tony Williams, who wanted him to play in a trio with organist Larry Young, and that Tony took John to visit his boss Miles Davis the next day. In the course of their conversation, Davis asked him to come along to the recording session for (what turned out to be his ground-breaking) In A Silent Way album. From that point on, it seems, McLaughlin was set on a musical journey of dazzling variety and virtuosity: playing on Davis's Bitches Brew and A Tribute To Jack Johnson albums, forming bands like the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Shakti, creating guitar concertos such as Thieves And Poets, playing with Al Di Meola and Paco de Lucia in The Guitar Trio, and creating electrifying music with a variety of bands, including The Free Spirits, The Heart Of Things and The Fourth Dimension. He's still going strong at the age of 72; the last-named is his current group, whom I'll be seeing at the London Jazz Festival next week.Read more ›
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