Exposé Online banner

Mahavishnu Orchestra — Mahavishnu
(Wounded Bird WOU 5190, 1984/2002, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2003-12-01

Mahavishnu Cover art

I don’t think anyone would argue against the idea that the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s peak was long past by the time John McLaughlin put this version of the band together. McLaughlin probably regarded this as a somewhat different band anyway, as evidenced by the fact that it was originally released just as Mahavishnu (for this reissue, the “Orchestra” is added). Billy Cobham is the only other Orchestra member present, and the role of melodic foil to the guitar and keys, previously filled by violin, is taken over by Bill Evans on saxes and flute. Listeners expecting the manic edge-of-the-seat energy that made the original band’s first few albums so remarkable will be disappointed; while this is no snooze-fest, the whole thing is more polished and mannered, due in large part to McLaughlin’s avoidance of the guitar. Yes, one of the great guitarists of all time recorded an album on which he plays mostly keyboards and “digital guitar” rather than his main axe. Maybe he was just tired of it and wanted to try something different, though he does rip out exactly one excellent solo on the third track. The results are somewhat mixed, for though there are some great moments, on the whole it’s a little too polite to rank with the best MO. Jonas Hellborg is uniformly good on bass, and Mitchell Forman fills the keyboard role admirably. All of which leaves this album as a curiosity in McLaughlin’s career, far from worthless, but not one of the greats.

Filed under: Reissues, Issue 28, 2002 releases, 1984 recordings

Related artist(s): Zakir Hussein, Mahavishnu Orchestra, John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham

Latest news

Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more

Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more

Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

Previously in Exposé...

Naoki Ishida - Fazing Redust – Although one's initial reaction to this obviously low-budget recording (the hiss throughout is quite noticeable) of seemingly aimless sonic noodling might be rejection, the seven tracks herein do have...  (2008) » Read more

Listen & discover

Print issues