Mahavishnu Orchestra: John's Song #2


John's Song #2


Mahavishnu Orchestra


The Lost Trident Sessions (Columbia Legacy CK 65959)

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John McLaughlin (guitar),

Jan Hammer (keyboards), Jerry Goodman (violin), Rick Laird (bass), Billy Cobham (drums)


Composed by John McLaughlin


Recorded: London, June 1973; released 1999


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

In 1999, producer Bob Belden came across the master tapes of what would become The Lost Trident Sessions. Belden had been working on the remastering of Birds of Fire when he spied the infamous tapes from the failed Mahavishnu Orchestra third studio recording attempt. At the time of those sessions, the original Mahavishnu Orchestra was well on its way to internal Armageddon. Belden immediately knew he had found the Holy Grail of fusion music. Within the year, the album was on the shelves and was popular enough to reach #2 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Charts. That is quite a feat when you consider the music had been recorded 26 years previously.

"John's Song #2" is the album's highlight. It sounds very much like the musical style that McLaughlin was to adopt for his new Mahavishnu Orchestra. In fact, it would have sounded right at home on Visions of the Emerald Beyond. Though not as rough around the edges as a typical MO tune, it is relentless in its drive. McLaughlin spews out notes furiously and adds rhythmic riffs behind Jerry Goodman's soaring violin. This is one of Goodman's best Mahavishnu performances. There is a lot of highly energetic intricate unison playing that, by this time, had become expected of the band. The tension mounts until it is released by a guitar riff that has been sliced-off clean by a knife.

Considering the tapes had been gathering dust for all those years, the sound quality is amazingly good. Still, the album was never finished. Any Mahavishnu fan can tell that. I mean, they never even got around to giving this tune a real name. One can only imagine how the band would have honed the pieces on the album had they all been getting along.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

Related Links

In Conversation with John McLaughlin by Walter Kolosky
The Dozens: John McLaughlin on Standards by Walter Kolosky

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