John McLaughlin: The Unknown Dissident

"The Unknown Dissident" is one of McLaughlin's most fully realized compositions. The One Truth Band was also one of McLaughlin's most underrated units. It did not have the power of The Mahavishnu Orchestra. But its strong identity was formed by a rhythmic foundation that allowed it to "funk a groove." This tune, however, did not fall into funk territory.

The wobbly bleating of a European ambulance's siren opens the scene. Perhaps it is Northern Ireland in the '70s. Perhaps not. It is definitely some place bad, though. A soulful, plaintive guitar and sax tell a tragic tale of someone who has been fighting for a cause and has lost. Yet there is still hope. The fight has been worth it. This prisoner's struggle, though, is over. His last brave walk is brief and final. It is now left for others to carry on the righteous cause.

McLaughlin and guest David Sanborn have a wonderful rapport. They have recorded together several times. They should do so again.

During McLaughlin's 2007 tour with his new group The Fourth Dimension, "The Unknown Dissident" was played for the first time live. Its message is the same today as it was back then. Unfortunately, it is a message that will still be needed tomorrow. So you need to listen. You really do.

February 24, 2008 · 0 comments


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