Mahavishnu Orchestra: Power of Love
Power of Love
Apocalypse (Columbia CK 46111)
Gayle Moran (keyboards), Michael Tilson Thomas (piano), Carol Shive (violin), Marsha Westbrook (viola), Philip Hirschi (cello), Ralphe Armstrong (bass), Michael Walden (drums), London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas.
Composed by John McLaughlin; orchestrated by Michael Gibbs.
Recorded: London, England, March 1974
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
Apocalypse marked the debut of John McLaughlin's second Mahavishnu Orchestra. McLaughlin was really thinking big in those days. London Symphony Orchestra big. Classical conductor Michael Tilson Thomas big. And finally, Beatles big – by employing The Beatles' sound engineer Geoffrey Emerick and famed Beatles producer George Martin.
Martin faced an enormous recording task. He had to separate the LSO and the Mahavishnu into different studios to isolate their dramatic difference in dynamics. Indeed, drummer Michael Walden was so powerful he had to be totally isolated. Martin may have been the first to use video conferencing in a recording studio, placing monitors in adjacent rooms so the musicians could see each other while recording. To this day, in almost every interview I read, Martin cites this album as one of his greatest accomplishments.
The beautiful "Power of Love," which opens Apocalypse, is the album's least electric and lowest-volume tune. Michael Tilson Thomas himself plays a sparing piano, leading me to suggest a good trivia question: name the 4 keyboard players who recorded with the Mahavishnu Orchestra. An acoustic McLaughlin plays the delicate melody over the wash of stringed orchestral strains. Jean-Luc Ponty's electric violin enters to mimic McLaughlin's lines. Soon Ponty veers off into his own complementary riff. The music floats above the clouds as McLaughlin and Ponty fade out in unison. The sound is big and delicate at the same time. There is beauty to be found in opposing tensions.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky