My Goal's Beyond (1971)

Personnel: McLaughlin -- steel string acoustic guitar; Jerry Goodman -- violin; Dave Liebman -- flute, soprano sax; Charlie Haden -- double bass; Billy Cobham -- drums; Airto Moreira -- percussion; Badal Roy -- tablas; Mahalakshmi -- tambura

Produced by John McLaughlin

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This album used to be held in the highest esteem among McLaughlin fans throughout the seventies. It climbed to the status of a cult recording because, among other reasons, there wasn't at that time anything similar to what today we may term world music. In a recent interview, Joe Zawinul had declared that he had invented world music, as well as the hip-hop beat. While we may give him the benefit of a doubt when it comes to hip-hop (with references to his early seventies Weather Report album "Sweetnighter"), he is seriously contended by this album when it comes to who had instigated the world music movement.

Not only did this album foreshadow the onslaught of the general public interest in ethnic and world music later in the eighties and the nineties, it was also instrumental in bringing the acoustic guitar to the forefront of the music scene in much of the seventies, as well as early eighties. This album opened the doors for numerous guitar duos and trios (the most famous being, of course, the McLaughlin-DiMeola-De Lucia trio).

But the most important reason for the immense popularity of this recording is the indescribable musical magic that shines through each and every one of its ten tracks. Because of that, this album ranks among the best recordings of the entire seventies, and in McLaughlin's catalogue, it certainly stands as tall as The Inner Mounting Flame, Birds Of Fire, A Handful Of Beauty, Extrapolation, etc.

Musically, this album represents a concept that is extremely hard to categorize. The first two tracks ("Peace One" and "Peace Two"), totaling over 19 minutes, feature tightly knit interplay between the musicians, while the rest of the tracks showcase McLaughlin's acoustic solo guitar playing, in a setting where he usually overdubs himself, occasionally adding tasteful and very sparse percussion effects (soft bells and chimes). The overall musical effect amounts to something that defies any attempts at defining it -- it is not jazz, it is certainly not rock or pop, it is not folk, it is some kind of unidentifiable cross-over or fusion in the truest sense of the word.

I first bought this record in the fall of 1974. At that time, I've already been exposed to the complete Mahavishnu Orchestra Mark I catalogue, plus I have assimilated his first solo album Extrapolation as well. Needless to say, I was enraptured by McLaughlin's music and was primed to buy any music that has his name associated with it. Even if someone were to offer me a recording where McLaughlin "Plays Polka Standards On A Kazoo", I'd go for it.

That is why I jumped at an LP with a picture of John smiling, holding his Ovation guitar, the moment I saw it in a record store. But, a funny thing happened -- a store clerk, who fancied himself as being very knowledgeable in the matters of the latest jazz-rock and fusion material, tried to talk me out of buying "My Goal's Beyond"! He was saying how he wouldn't recommend it, and that he was sure that I would not like it. I remember having real trouble registering his words. I mean, there I was, trembling with excitement in anticipation of the most gorgeous music my ears would ever hear, and this guy is doing his best to unsettle me in my convictions! Repeatedly, he tried to warn me that the music on that album is nothing like the Mahavishnu Orchestra stuff, and that, therefore, that album is a pile of crap. He said something like: "It'll just put you to sleep. Cobham's drums were miked like he's playing in another room, and anyway everything is barely audible."

Well, I wouldn't have any of that! Oblivious to his tiring drone, I've insisted on purchasing the copy, and as soon as I've got it, rushed straight home. I remember that night as if it happened yesterday: on my way back home it started to snow. The magical charm of the freshness of the first snow, covering the streets and the parks, making the night seem lighter, spilled over into my room. I put the record on my turntable and was sitting motionless in my chair. Then, it happened...
1. Peace One (7:12)

2. Peace Two (12:10) 3. Goodbye Pork-Pie Hat, by Charlie Mingus (3:15) 4. Something Spiritual, by Dave Herman (3:28) 5. Hearts and Flowers by P.D. Bob Cornford (2:01) 6. Phillip Lane (2:35) 7. Waltz for Bill Evans, Chick Corea (2:01) 8. Follow Your Heart (3:15) 9. Song for My Mother (2:31) 10. Blue in Green, by Miles Davis (2:37) If you've read this far, you have just been through a journey that's unparalleled in modern recorded industry. Certainly one of the best recordings ever, "My Goal's Beyond" will definitely withstand the test of time. It will continue to live forever, as a testimony to the power of the mass awakening that happened during the sixties and the seventies, as a result of mingling of the various cultures.

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