John McLaughlin: Are You the One? Are You the One?


Are You the One? Are You the One?


John McLaughlin (guitar)


Electric Guitarist (Columbia CK 46110)

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John McLaughlin (guitar), Jack Bruce (bass), Tony Williams (drums).

Composed by John McLaughlin


Recorded: New York, January 1978


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

Only the absent Larry Young (who would tragically die that March at the age of 37) prevented this from being a full reunion of the second version of Tony Williams Lifetime. John McLaughlin was coming off a couple of years of playing acoustic music with Shakti. Record label Columbia was anxious for McLaughlin to plug in again so they could start drinking anew from the money stream that John once kept flowing with his electric fusion work. Despite the all-star cast and some great music, the album failed to sell the numbers Columbia wanted. Over the years the album's importance has grown as a greater appreciation has developed for its wildly diverse material. For this reason, the criticism that the album lacked focus has faded away.

"Are You The One? Are You the One?" refers to a vocal pleading the original Lifetime would offer up during its performances. On this cut each player screams the phrase out in exultation and/or exasperation. Or they whisper it in desperation. This is a hard-driving, in-your-face jazz-funk assault. McLaughlin's electronically processed guitar sounds like a damn tuba coming down after a speedball. Williams has a different musical relationship with McLaughlin than Billy Cobham did. Cobham and McLaughlin almost fuse into one performer. It is a phenomenon that is remarkable to hear. Williams and McLaughlin, on the other hand, complement each other in the way two spatial bodies orbit each other. There is a constant pushing and pulling as John fills spaces Williams vacates and vice versa. The end result is perfect equilibrium. Bruce is a very good if not flashy technician. He simplifies things a bit for his solo turn. But in its way his solo includes every bit as much funk – even if is European funk – as the other two. What a treat it is to hear this trio in a fantastic rave-up!

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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