Mahavishnu: The Wait
Adventures in Radioland (Polygram)
John McLaughlin (guitar, guitar synthesizer),
Bill Evans (sax), Mitchel Forman (keyboards), Jonas Hellborg (bass), Danny Gottlieb (drums).
Composed by Jim Beard.
Recorded: Milan, Italy, January 1986
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
Adventures in Radioland was the follow-up to Mahavishnu's 1984 Mahavishnu. That album had John McLaughlin almost exclusively playing guitar synthesizer. Though the album had some good music, it was frustrating as hell because you spent most of your time waiting to hear McLaughlin play a straight electric guitar. Adventures, on the other hand, was a much more pleasing outing. McLaughlin was still using the Synclaviar Digital guitar but was using it much less. There was honest-to-goodness McLaughlin electric wailing! Yes!
"The Wait" was composed by the overly talented Jim Beard. (Keyboardist Beard would go on to replace Mitch Forman on Mahavishnu's tour because of Forman's contractual commitment with Wayne Shorter.) Forman's sequenced keyboard patch introduces electronic drums and a searing electric statement from McLaughlin. The band dives into a frantic fusion syncopation mode as McLaughlin continues to drop depth charges. This was not your father's Mahavishnu Orchestra. This was the sound of 1986 technology. Though the audio could sound a bit dry sometimes, this was mostly a good thing except for the poor electronic drums. (The electronic drum sound – not Gottlieb's kit, which he plays with a punch – has aged terribly. You must think in 1986 context to appreciate it.) Bill Evans (sax) is in very good form as he takes over for McLaughlin. "The Wait," which opened many of the band's live shows, is a very fine jazz-rock performance replete with texture and drama. It was the perfect piece to reintroduce John McLaughlin on electric guitar.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky