John McLaughlin: Friendship




John McLaughlin (guitar)


Electric Guitarist (Columbia CK 46110)

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John McLaughlin (guitar), Carlos Santana (guitar),

Tom Coster (organ), Neil Jason (bass), Narada Michael Walden (drums), Armando Peraza (congas), Alyrio Lima (percussion)


Composed by John McLaughlin


Recorded: North Hollywood, CA, 1978


Rating: 91/100 (learn more)

Even when the Mahavishnu Orchestra was at the height of its commercial success, it was still rare to hear their music on commercial radio. Tunes that went on for 6, 7 or 8 minutes and did not contain any vocals were not exactly radio friendly. A brave DJ at an alternative radio station here or there would throw the music on. Of course college stations were playing Mahavishnu much more often. But after the original group disbanded, you never heard any John McLaughlin music on the radio. In 1978, five years after the band's breakup, that all changed.

"Friendship" was not in heavy rotation, but many station managers liked it enough to put it on occasionally. The fact that rock star Carlos Santana was on the cut probably had a lot to do with this. But the tune was genuinely engaging. Its lead melody was a welcome call and the body of the piece was 98% unthreatening to eardrums. McLaughlin composed a piece that was right in Santana's Latin-tinged wheelhouse as well. The two guitarists meld beautifully as they play much of the song in tandem. The backing band is pretty good too, featuring drummer Narada Michael Walden. This was a fusion number that even your sister could hum. "Friendship" was proof positive that fusion could be good jazz-rock and have commercial appeal without having to bow down to those corporate idiots at the record companies who wanted it all watered down. Of course they would eventually get their way. I still hate those bastards.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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