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Visions Of The Emerald
Beyond (Mahavishnu Orchestra Mark II, 1974)
A Contribution By Michael Dougan
My friend Michael
Dougan responded immediately after reading my review of this album:
I found myself agreeing with your
observations. At the beginning, for example. I remember that you'd mentioned
that JM felt that this was the best MO album, the most satisfying for him.
But it's not coherent enough for most of his listeners, especially fans,
to agree. But it is one of the best produced. I can feel that he was trying
to express something, trying to nail it, and he did. Of the MO albums I
listened to in my youth, that one got played the most. At that age, I wasn't
sophisticated enough to appreciate the harder, edgy stuff I would develop
a taste for later. "Visions" was more melodic, more musical -- had a bite,
but not too fierce or too demanding. Foreshadowing a more mainstream, less
aggressive musical future. And yes, very ambitious. Perhaps JM felt that
it was his first 'mature' concept album.
Your description of "Can't stand
your funk" (one of my favorite tunes in high school) was right on. What
saves it from being a monotonous game of "licks" is the great brass section!
The idea of taking a simple funky riff and building elaborate hornplay
around it is irresistible fun.
The album covers a lot of territory,
but it doesn't all necessarily come together. It's strength is not originality.
But I got the sense it was satisfying for the artist. Reading your notes
made me not only want to play the album again, it made me want to plug
in an electric guitar, an urge I haven't had for years.
Thank you, Michael, on behalf of all John