Mahavishnu John McLaughlin: Peace One


Peace One


John McLaughlin (acoustic guitar)


My Goal's Beyond (Rykodisc RCD 10051)

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John McLaughlin (acoustic guitar),

Dave Liebman (tenor & soprano saxes, flute), Jerry Goodman (violin), Charlie Haden (bass), Billy Cobham (drums), Airto Moreira (percussion), Badal Roy (tables), Eve McLaughlin (Mahalakshmi) (tambura)


Composed by John McLaughlin


Recorded: New York, March 1971


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

No less a guitarist than Pat Metheny says that this album changed guitar playing. It was in the midst of the heavy metal age when Mahavishnu John McLaughlin released this album full of acoustic wonder. For almost 40 years, its pure beauty has stood the test of time and changing fancies. To this day, there are legions who still believe it was McLaughlin's most endearing and important entry into the jazz canon. Though I don't fully agree, I can't fully disagree either. Most of the supporters of that view single out McLaughlin's wonderful solo acoustic guitar playing on 5 standards and 3 originals as being pivotal discoveries. However, the album's true gem is the ensemble tune "Peace One."

This track not only displayed McLaughlin's inimitable acoustic chops, it was also a harbinger of great things to come, including the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Shakti. In fact, two future members of Mahavishnu, Billy Cobham and Jerry Goodman, play important roles here. Western in structure but Eastern in atmosphere, "Peace One" is ushered in by an unforgettable repeating Charlie Haden bassline. You will be humming this riff for 38 years and at times you least expect to. Cobham does a lot of cymbal work as Airto and Badal Roy provide rhythm accents. McLaughlin's opening explorations are performed with an elastic quality. His stretched-out strings return to their original upright and locked positions after every Indo-scalar jaunt. Nobody played guitar like that! Jerry Goodman and Dave Liebman introduce the secondary melody in unison before Liebman takes off on his own flute runs. Violinist Goodman travels even further into bliss with his purposeful solo. Haden's riff, always present even when not heard, returns to take the tune into the regions of the beyond. That previous sentence might seem hyperbolic, but I may have been high the first time I heard this tune, and the feeling has stayed with me ever since. In any case, hundreds of listenings while clean and sober over the years have only confirmed my initial beliefs.

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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  • 1 roole // Nov 09, 2008 at 01:22 AM
    Fantastic review. Thanks.