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So I'm listening to Mahavishnu Orchestra for the first time right now

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by LiquidMidnight, Feb 6, 2003.

  1. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    At my advanced theory lesson today, my teacher gave me a a MO cd to borrow.

    I must say that it is blowing me away. I just listened to Celestial Terrestrial Commuters and Open Country Joy. So much harmonically interesting stuff is going into this. Wow, it's been a while since I've been simply "Blown away" by music.

    How many fans are there here?
  2. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Yo! Over here!

    I really dig MO! They've got some really intense stuff. IMO the album that you are listening to (Birds of Fire, right?) is their second best studio release after The Inner Mounting Flame (which you should run out and buy immediately!).

    The DigMe Rule of Thumb for Mahavishnu Orchestra's original studio releases is: The earlier the release date, the better the album.

    Billy Cobham is such a freakin' awesome drummer...all those guys are amazing. If you ever read Tony Levin's book, Beyond the Bass Clef, there's a funny story about how he missed out on playing bass with MO.


    brad cook
  3. oddentity

    oddentity Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    I like 'em a lot. My band covers "Open Country Joy" and it's one of my favorite songs to play.
  4. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Actually, it's a "Best of" type of collection that my teacher got imported from England. He was going to lend me Birds of Fire also, but he couldn't find it right then. I'm looking forward to hearing that one also.

    The only compliant I have about it, is some of the songs just aren't long enough for my taste. They get rolling and then after 2 and half minutes they're over. Well, I guess you can't sustain everything that's going on in their songs for 6 minutes. Still I would like to hear them just jam out for a while. They probaly did at their live shows?
  5. BassWizard55

    BassWizard55 Guest

    Dec 21, 2002
    Rome, Ga
    Check out ~ Al Dimeola, Dixie Dregs, Dream Theater, Yes, Steve Vai...some of that stuff might 'blow you away' too.
  6. Yea I was into the Dregs and M.O. for a while, their riffs are a little to blusey and sluggish for me to truly enjoy.

  7. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    I really enjoy Mahavishnu Orchestra but I do not enjoy Steve Vai, Dream Theater or the Dixie Dregs. Ok...The Dregs are ok but I'm not way into 'em. Based on someone's enjoyment of MO I'd be more inclined to recommend Billy Cobham, early 70's King Crimson, Gong (which had some fierce guitar playing from both Bon Lozaga and Allan Holdsworth - check out Expresso II), Brand X or maybe even Bill Bruford's solo stuff.

    I feel like Vai and Dream Theater lack the rawness of MO while the Dregs lack some of the sophistication (not to say they aren't sophisticated).

    brad cook
  8. Monkey


    Mar 8, 2000
    Ohio, USA
    I went through a big MO awakening when I was in college (about 20 years ago!), but I got to know them through "Visions of the Emerald Beyond." Ralph Armstong's bass playing blew me away, and I liked Narada Michael Walden's drumming. His drumming had a lot of Indian influence in his phrasing.

    If you get a chance, check out Ralph. Very funky, cool fretless.
  9. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Hey Brad, do you listen to any Soft Machine? I've heard that they were quite innovative but I haven't heard anything by them yet.
  10. I'm not Brad, but I'm a big Mahavishnu and Crimson fan, and I've got Soft Machine's Third, and it rocks in places. It's quite innovative in its use of electronic textures and its extreme changes in tempo, feel, and mood--so much so that it seems a bit diffuse to me in 2003--but in its day it was hailed as a masterpiece.

    Some fabulous jazz musicians were connected with the same Canterbury scene from whence the Soft Machine sprang--most notably pianist Keith Tippett and saxophonist Elton Dean.
  11. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Peter, when it comes to eccentric and progressive music, you are Da Man.

  12. Bitch, PUH-LEEZE! I've got nothing on our man JimK.
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Yes - I must say that I really like them as well as a lot of John Mclaughlin's earlier albums and his subsequent solo ones - but I know what you mean - I always preferred their live album "Between nothingness and eternity" for this reason as the tracks are longer and more satisfying for that reason. I also like the idea of a live album for this band as they do sound "restrained" in the studio.

    In similar vein for long jams - you might like the album McLaughlin did with Carlos Santana - their jam on Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" is great!

    When Mahavishnu split it was really disappointing and I wanted more albums like the live one - which was last to come out, as far as I remember. So I ended up looking out for what the members did - Jan Hammer and Jerry Goodman did an album together which I really liked - called "Like Children" - I bought it originally on vinyl but have never been able to get it on CD! :(

    Of course the big impact was made by Billy Cobham's solos album - Spectrum - also with Jan Hammer,which I still really like!
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Eltion Dean does still lead his own nonet which plays around the UK Jazz scene - I've sen him play in small groups as well.

    Soft Machine 3 contains one of my favourite tracks of all time - Robert Wyatt's "Moon in June" which hints at what he would do in his solo albums after his spinal injury.

    I don't remember anyone hailing 3 as a masterpiece - at the time it left most people completely bewildered!! So in 1 and 2 they were very much a psychadelic band in the vein of early Pink Floyd - in fact Kevin Ayers who was the main creative force at the beginning, wrote songs very much like Syd Barrett. But when Ayers went off to work with David Allen of Gong and on solo albums, their direction changed dramatically for 3 !!

    So - Mike Ratledge was alway regarded as the leader then, but I think the big change was down to the arrival of bassist Hugh Hopper - who is one of the greats of the British scene.

    If you are interested in this music - Hopper released a book of sheet music which contained some of his tunes (very challenging for bass) as well as the complex arrangment for the first track on Soft Machine 3 - which was recorded live with an unusually configured Jazz big band.

    But anyway - in 1970s UK - most people had never heard of this album and it was very much a part of the "underground".
  15. I was a big MO fan back in the days (seems so long ago doesn't it?). These guys (the various incarnations of the group) put out some pretty amazing stuff. Along with MO's stuff, and like many of you here, I really liked much of Devadip Carlos Santana's stuff because it was done in the same vein. Billy Cobham was on regular rotation on my turntable, as was Jean Luc Ponty. It's too bad commercialism has rendered this type of music obsolete.
  16. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    At one point I was close to buying a Mahavishnu Orchestra album (Birds Of Fire, I think), never having heard them before. For some reason (probably money) I didn't.
  17. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer
  18. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Please...I'm like TWICE your age. Trust me, you know the deal. You're so far ahead of me...I was so pathetic(still am).
    OrnetteColtrane, eh? Cool, very cool...I was in my 30s before I fell in love with those guys!
  19. Well, they didn't have The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, high-speed Internet connections (for pre-purchase evaluation purposes--we shall have none of that steal-to-own garbage), and relatively well-paying student jobs back in your day. :D
  20. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    That's ok, Pete, we can't all be me now can we? ;)

    brad cook

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