Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Visions of the Emerald Beyond
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Even though it is not as consistently convincing as Mahavishnu's first two albums, this fifth, 1975 outing nonetheless provides plenty of the same listening rewards--urgent, inexorably forceful jazz-rock fusion with an int... more »
Even though it is not as consistently convincing as Mahavishnu's first two albums, this fifth, 1975 outing nonetheless provides plenty of the same listening rewards--urgent, inexorably forceful jazz-rock fusion with an intense interactivity among the players. Jean-Luc Ponty provides the fresh interest. Always most convincing when employed, rather than in charge, here he revels in the open spaces and blissed prompting that McLaughlin's celestial-run formula provides. The album was one of a few later Mahavishnu recordings that announced that the revolutionary band's mission was near completion, and perhaps already played out. McLaughlin's playing soars at some points, but it was time for him to leave the capsule, and settle into a new phase: his extraordinary Shakti collaborations. --Peter Monaghan
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B. E Jackson | Pennsylvania | 07/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
First off, I just want to let everyone know I bought the Sbme Special Mkts version of this album which features EXCELLENT sound quality. Inside is a small booklet that gives a four page history of the band, and the things going on with McLaughlin around the time this album was made. They also mention McLaughlin's time with Santana a couple years before, and the kind of creative ideas the band had in mind as they were recording the album.
I went into Visions of the Emerald Beyond already very familiar with the first two Mahavishnu Orchestra albums, already a HUGE fan of the band for the last year or so.
I love this album quite a bit. I seriously don't understand why people aren't putting it on the same level as the first two albums. I listen to the entire 40 minutes and say to myself "Man, if only more people who are fans of exciting, creative and unpredictable songwriting had the opportunity to hear this album, they would immediately LOVE the entire thing". I'm serious about that. If diversity is important to you when listening to music, you can't go wrong with this album, or the entire band for that matter.
What I don't understand is how people can criticize the album for, according to some people, not featuring the same kind of guitar intensity that McLaughlin was playing on the first two albums. NOT true. Oh sure, McLaughlin's insanely heavy guitar playing isn't as frequent here, but there's a reason for that- this album features a bunch of different musical styles crammed into one 40-minute album. You have moments of classical, jazz, blues, funk, heavy rock, and as hard as this one is to believe, opera (for a brief moment in one song). This was John McLaughlin's vision for the band at the time.
Picking a favorite song is almost impossible, since I love every single moment of it. I'd have to go with one of the first three songs though. The guitar playing is truly spectacular and is *just* as heavy as the stuff from the first two Mahavishnu Orchestra albums. McLaughlin's distinct speedy/jazzy guitar style just doesn't make as much of an appearance as before.
Instead we have more violin jams, peaceful flute passages, a small amount of horns, acoustic guitar, and some wild drumming that reminds me of the distinct and brutal style from King Crimson's Red album. There's still quite a lot of electric guitar playing though. Enough to satisfy any fan of rock and roll. In fact, some of it is played in *such* an extremely wild and insanely heavy way, it's almost impossible to believe this album didn't get the attention it deserved back in 1975.
Speaking of violin jams, here's something for you- imagine taking a funk song, and mixing it with violin soloing that's playing loudly and wildly over the rhythm of the funky beat? There's a song on here like that. I've never heard ANYTHING like that before. Have you?
Another very surprising thing is that there's now vocals. Some of them aren't that good, while other vocal sections, particularly the ones that sound like something from an early 70's Santana album, are really great. In the opening song for example, with it's CLASSIC guitar riff that borders Black Sabbath and King Crimson, you have muddy vocals in the back of the mix. It's *very* unusual at first, because it sounds so out of place. However, the more you give the album a chance, the more the vocals will grow on you.
I like how the very final track on the album sounds like a mid 70's Jeff Beck influence (or maybe Beck was influenced by this band?) If you like the final song on here, check out Beck's Wired album. One thing that's interesting about the way this album closes (that does NOT sound like Jeff Beck) is the way the guitar soloing becomes faster and crazier on the final track, but yet, this quiet somber tone makes an eerie appearance. The album ends with a musical passage on the final track called "On the Way Home to Earth" that seems to make me think about coming home to earth and landing somewhere where lots of violence and activity is taking place. I don't know if the musicians intended for it to come across that way or what.
I just can't get over all the different styles this album has. There's really so much careful attention to detail and amazing creativity that you just can't help but appreciate the uniqueness of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. I highly recommend this album after you first pick up The Inner Mounting Flame and Birds of Fire.
I can't say enough about this album. I can just keep talking and talking about how great it is. Do yourself a favor- if you like rock music that's creative and unpredictable, you'll love Visions of the Emerald Beyond. Yes I know it says it's a jazz album on the front cover, but geez, is *this* what you think about when you think of jazz? All these different musical genres blended together to create something bizarre and fascinating? Please just buy it!"
One of the best, underrated
JP | 02/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I put off buying this recording for years because was mistakenly under the impression that the revamped Mahavishnu crew could never be as good as the original members and that since this album had vocals it would be cheesy. I was wrong. The first time I listened to this album it put a wide smile on my face, and I was forced to exclaim "wow!" at times.
This band is technically brilliant, matches the energy and grace of the original band, and McLaughlin's compositions are at their peak in this album. The vocals work out fine. Listen to it for what it is, not what you think it should be. This is an essential Mahavishnu recording."
Upwards on a spiral of brilliance
IRate | 08/13/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
Just the fact that this album is overlooked in their brief though blistering discography should clue you in as to how powerful the band is. Scaling new heights of rock, funk, and jazz fusions, the fiery literacy behind Mclaughlin's stunning guitar work, plus Ponty's string-based inclusion make for an invigorating, and diverse set. There are several tremendous occasions throughout; bliss-filled homages to the heavens bubbling with unbelievable progressive synergy- when violently beautiful violin solos begin clashing within profound melodies on "Eternity's Breath Part 2", it still sounds like a new urgency had been set in fusion (and spiritual) greatness. It's put together a little differently then their other discs, but track for track I do not think you can dispute the depth of quality, though perhaps argue to the contrary."