Shakti: Peace of Mind
Peace of Mind
Natural Elements (Sony Records SRCS 7016)
John McLaughlin (guitar),
L. Shankar (violin).
Composed by John McLaughlin.
Recorded: Geneva, Switzerland, July 1977
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
With Shakti, John McLaughlin introduced a newly designed acoustic guitar commissioned from legendary luthier Abe Wechter. It had a scalloped fretboard that allowed McLaughlin to bend notes the same as on the Indian vina. But also of interest was a second set of strings placed diagonally across the sound hole. Many people mistakenly called these "sympathetic drone" strings, under the notion their main function was to vibrate when McLaughlin played his regular strings, creating an Indian drone box sound. Theoretically this could work. But in reality the 7 strings were actually tuned to an open chord using a tuning box located on the guitar. McLaughlin would strum them along in accompaniment as he or others played. I defy anyone to identify any drone sound these strings ever made.
The extra set of strings plays a large role on "Peace of Mind." McLaughlin strums the strings to provide both a melodic underpinning and rhythmic support on this lovely and somewhat sad ballad. He has to do both because there is no rhythm section on the piece. McLaughlin and violinist L. Shankar are the only performers. Shankar was a wonderful player. He and McLaughlin were perfect foils. McLaughlin is an enigma. Even in his sad songs there is a lining of hope. I have seen him refer to this more than once as "sadjoy." You have to listen to understand.
Soon after this recording, Shankar decided to try another musical direction, signing up with Frank Zappa and later Peter Gabriel for more pop-oriented material.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky