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early fusion slug fest

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by soundofphysics, Jan 17, 2001.

  1. soundofphysics


    Jul 17, 2000
    of the three most noted, and liekly most influential of early 70's fusion super groups -- Weather report, return to forever, mahavishnu orchestra-- which do you guys and gals think is the best. We can't jsut compare bass-wise cause then weather report has an unfair advantage being that jaco is god. so, compositionally, creatively, stylisticly, downright musically, and listenably (made up word).

    it's tough for me to pick, but i think even after setting an even playing field with the jaco factor it's tough to beat out weather report, cause without jaco they still did some good stuff (not as good though i most say)
    so then RTF is still kinda nice in my book to
    but wait i still like mahavishnu
    crap i still can't decide, lol
  2. soundofphysics


    Jul 17, 2000
    i think you hit the nail on the head.

    the only thing that made weather report a favorite to me was jaco. pre-jaco and post-jaco, they still made good stuff, but outside of jaco i can't really pick one over the other. Much liek i can't pick coltrane over weather report- because they are incomporable, they're different equal entities.

    to be honest i kind of liek chick corea a lil more than zawinul, but even that is close, and almost a tossup.
    -- unless we're talking miles days, cause then mile's era joe is kinda tough to beat.

    [Edited by soundofphysics on 01-18-2001 at 01:02 AM]
  3. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Just some random thoughts-

    Of the 3 groups, The Mahavishnu Orchestra was the ONLY one to keep the same line-up(JM, Cobham, Laird, Goodman, & Hammer)throughout.

    Both RTF and WR began their foray into the hardcore electric world of '70s Jazz-Fusion as "ACOUSTIC" sounding groups. In fact, on a couple of early records, I think Zawinul(synth)& Corea(Fender Rhodes)were the only ones playin' an electric instrument.

    Steve Gadd played in both RTF & Weather Report.
    Unlike, RTF & WR, The MO never featured a sax player.
    Both WR & RTF employed percussionists(I think Airto may have played in both bands).

    Is it a coincidence that the "leaders" of each band(Zawinul/Shorter; Corea; McLaughlin/Cobham)were all Miles' alums?
  4. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...were they called Mahavishnu Orchestra? If so, then "my bad".
  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I'll go for Mahavishnu Orchestra.

    Yes, there were two lineups (and in the 80s there was a "Mahvishnu" band minus the Orchestra with Jonas Hellborg and Danny Gottlieb); the second lineup had Ponty and a string section (!!). I didn't like that one at all, but "Inner Mounting Flame" and "Birds of Fire" still are huge favorites of mine. The live album that followed (and the recently unearthed studio sessions with most of that material) showed the band already starting to run out of steam, though.

    I never cared much for RTF in any incarnation and as far as WR I'll say (heresy) I liked 'em best before Jaco, especially "Body Electric", "Sweetnighter" and "Mysterious Traveler".

    One thing about Mahavishnu was McLaughlin's concept really came together. Go listen to his "Devotion" (with Buddy Miles and Larry Young) or the Tony Williams Lifetime stuff and it's cool to see how when he finally got with those Hammer, Cobham, Goodman and Laird, it all gelled and shot off into the stratosphere.

    The biggest fusion disappointment ever to me was Lifetime's "Turn It Over" with Jack Bruce (!!!) on bass. He's not even on all the tracks, it's badly mixed and a lot of time is wasted on Tony's awful vocals. Too bad they didn't wait until AFTER they toured to record (and gotten a bigger production budget).
  6. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...on the COMPLETE BITCHES BREW, one can hear McLaughlin & Cobham "noodling"; kinda like a precursor to MO.
    A couple other Miles' Fusion-esque albums worth giving a spin(IMO)-

    BTW, I agree about Lifetime; a couple of their albums ROCKED; a couple others I was REAL disappointed in.
    Also, if you're into the early WR records & the collective improvising style of those groups, check out Coltrane's ASCENSION(should be in every Free Jazz lovers' collection)& Ornette's FREE JAZZ(ditto).
  7. Not to spoil the discussion but my favorite group from the early 70's is the Electromagnets. They only had one record that had a limited release but is now available on CD and it is my favorite record from that day. But I am biased because I got to see them quite a bit oh so long ago.

    It would be hard for me to pick my favorite between WR(pj) and RTF but I definately pick them over MO. Stanley and Alphonso are both great players, but don't overlook tge great bass lines on 'mysterious traveller'& 'tale spinnin'
  8. I never got to see Jaco with Weather Report, but did see Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Return to Forever (with Stanley and Al- whew!). All three were great bands, no doubt. What about Brand X, or the Brecker Brothers? Ok, the Breckers were not really a steady band, but they had a couple of mighty good albums.
  9. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I always liked how the Breckers played their Bop horn licks over a Funk/R&B rhythm section.
    I have The Electromagnets cd; I like it, though, I haven't played it in awhile(Zappa called them "...The Mahavishnu Orchestra in cowboy hats". Or something to that effect).

    Couple other Fusion-esque discs from that time frame-
    ...killer personnel on this one; guys like Shorter, Ron Carter, Herbie, Tony Williams...Hell, it's Miles' band! ;)
    2)Santana/McLaughlin-LOVE, DEVOTION, SURRENDER
    ...their nod to 'Trane.

    And, a little later-
    3)Steps Ahead-SMOKIN IN THE PIT
    ...+ their debut + PARADOX & STEP BY STEP
    4)Steve Khan & the Eyewitness Band-CASA LOCO
    ...+ their debut & BLADES
    5)Billy Connors-ASSEMBLER
    ...bassist Tom Kennedy & either Weckl or Kim Planfield on cans. Connors, the original guitarist in RTF, in a Jazz-Rock trio that smacks of Holdsworth's IOU band.
  10. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I got hooked on Weather Report with "Mysterious Traveller" in the late 70's and picked up all of the early stuff with Alphonso Johnson and Miroslav Vitous. Whew!

    RTF by the time of "Where Have I Known You Before?" to me was true Jazz/Rock Fusion. They were exhausting to watch. Remember, this was Stanley before the world was inundated with Stanley wannabees. Most of it sounds dated now but back then...whew! Plus CC, a young Al DiMeola and the energizer bunny, Lenny White. It was a group.

    I'll give props to MO because, while I didn't like them as much as WR and RTF, technically and compositionally I don't think they took a backseat to anyone. It's all about what you like.

    Who would be the best... almost like asking a father who his favorite child is. There's something special about all of them.

    There were, and are, of course other groups, I love Brand X and Lost Tribe but they came later.
  11. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    If I had to pick a favorite it would be RTF, followed by WR, and then MO. The only MO album I really liked was "Apocalypse" of which I have a CD of today and still listen to thanks to Ralph Armstrongs cool lines. Like others, "Mysterious Traveler" was an album that I played until I wore it out. As for RTF, a lot of folks rave about Jaco and rightly so, but I think there's a lot going on with what's Stanley's doing especially on "Romantic Warrior", his arco(bow) solo(s) are pretty sweet as well as his pizz(finger) solos, throw on top of that how old he was at the time and the level of chops he exhibited, whew! This goes for the whole band by the way.

  12. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Airto did play with both RTF and WR. If I had to choose between the two, I'd go with RTF. MO is a distant third, although McLaughlin is an astounding musician. I just think Chick Corea's compositions are more musical, to my ears, anyway. Also, as amazing as Jaco was, I am far more impressed with Stanley's bass line on "Captain Marvel", which he played on Upright! "500 Miles High" is another great track.(both on "Light as a Feather")

    I do want to get into earlier WR, though, especially the ones with Alphonso Johnson. I had "I Sing The Body Electric", with Miroslav Vitous on bass and found hard to get into it. Maybe I need to hear it again.

    Will C.:cool:

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