Mahavishnu Orchestra: Celestial Terrestrial Commuters


Celestial Terrestrial Commuters


John McLaughlin (guitar)


Birds of Fire (Columbia CK 66081)

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John McLaughlin (guitar), Jan Hammer (keyboards),

Jerry Goodman (violin), Rick Laird (bass guitar), Billy Cobham (drums)


Composed by John McLaughlin


Recorded: London and New York, August and September 1972


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

A round robin of a tune, the 9/8 "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters" features the trading of lightning-quick licks that seem to shoot out from the bottoms of the stars. Jan Hammer's Minimoog takes the lead, unrolling metallic sheets of sound. His thrusts force McLaughlin to parry. John counters with rapier-like attacks. Goodman comes to break things up but gets caught in the ever-accelerating melee. In this spinning environment, equilibrium and instability coexist. Cobham or Laird could tip the balance either way. They never do. Instead, they push and push until the tune resolves into a thrilling rapprochement.

Incidentally, the band knew the tune "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters" as "Binky's" because it was a reworking of McLaughlin's tune "Binky's Beam" from his Extrapolation album.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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  • 1 dj // Apr 22, 2008 at 08:17 AM
    the song is in 19/16
  • 2 Walter Kolosky // Sep 24, 2008 at 03:03 AM
    Hi DJ. Just saw your comment. Well, not that it is so important, but according to John himself and his own written music the time signature is 19/8. So we both have it wrong. (Though my mistake was a typo). (I also verified this with the guy that transcribed the music for publication.)I do see different time signatures for this tune given all over the Net. People hear and play things differently. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.