John McLaughlin Marbles
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- by John McLaughlin ~ Floating Point ~ $17.95
- Released: October 11, 2011
- Label: Brook
- 3.Don't let the dragon eat your mother
- 4.Purpose of when
- 5.Dragon song
Personnel: John McLaughlin (guitar); Larry Young (Fender Rhodes piano, Hammond b-3 organ); Buddy Miles (drums, percussion).
John McLaughlin fans should not be fooled by the modern photograph on, and title of, this CD. Simply put, it is 1970's Devotion with a different track listing and cover -- and a budget price tag. For those unfamiliar with Devotion, it is a visceral, ambitious developmental moment in the guitarist's history, recorded just after he left Miles Davis' band yet before he founded the Mahavishnu Orchestra. While the sheer element of perfection he achieved in his latter group is not yet firmly in place, the driving rock vamping of his years with Davis and the soloing in the period he spent with Tony Williams' Lifetime are. Producer Alan Douglas assembled jam sessions with McLaughlin, organist Larry Young (also a member of Lifetime), Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Miles, and bassist Billy Rich that he recorded. None of that has been officially released, but most of it comes from this material, and it just smokes. McLaughlin's acid rock playing is on fire-breathing stun, augmented by a generous helping of fuzz boxes and phase shifters. Young's playing -- he was near his zenith at this point -- is full of wild arpeggios, sweeping, swirling, chordal sequences, and mind-bending vamps that stretch time but never step out of it. Miles is, as ever, a totally groove-oriented drummer who doesn't have to leave the pocket in order to improvise. Singling out individual tracks is useless, because it's the entire session that matters. This is an anomaly in McLaughlin's catalog, but it's an enduring recording that sounds as fresh and fiery today as it did when it was originally issued. If you've never heard this, you're being cheated out of one of the truly great rock guitar albums of the era. ~ Thom Jurek
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