The great man is touring the US for the last time in the month few weeks, playing Mahavishnu music in quantity for the first time in decades. Here’s his promo vid:
I’ve just noticed that someone has posted a high quality version of the great ‘Smile of the Beyond’, from MO II’s Montreux performance in 1974 (which, bafflingly, was among the 60-odd minutes omitted from the official DVD of the show) – and it has to be shared!
Rare in the MO canon in being primarily a vocal item, featuring the exquisite Gayle Moran, the studio recording of this was among the late George Martin’s favourite productions, done in one take.
But fear not, bolted on to the song is a 20-minute wig-out.
Best known as an obscure outpost in BBC Radio 4’s late-night Shipping Forecast, Valencia is also the location of an outpost of Boston’s Berklee College, the home of jazz degrees. John’s former Mahavishnu Orchestra colleague Rick Laird went there (Boston) in the middle 60s, as did his estwhile collaborators Howard Riley and Michael Gibbs.
On July 10, a couple of weeks ago, John only had to go as far as Valencia (from his home in Monaco) to receive an honorary doctorate in music, presented by Berklee President Roger H. Brown.
As the press release puts it:
Berklee’s honorary doctorate recipients are recognised for their achievements and influences in music, and for their enduring contributions to American and international culture. Past recipients include Duke Ellington (the first, in 1971), Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Smokey Robinson, Steven Tyler, Loretta Lynn, Juan Luis Guerra, Annie Lennox, Paco de Lucia, Carole King, Willie Nelson, George Clinton, Rita Moreno, Lionel Richie, and A. R. Rahman. Honorary doctorates have previously been awarded at the Valencia campus to Eddie Gómez (2013) and Plácido Domingo (2014).
John performed as a special guest at the commencement concert at the Palau de les Arts Reina » Continue Reading.
As a ‘bonus track’ to my recent thread about an adventurous weekend of music, my troubadouring and songwriting guest Buddy Mondlock was talking about list songs in my kitchen (that’s where he was talking about them – there were no list songs in my kitchen, per se) and I said, ‘Like Neil Diamond’s ‘Done Too Soon’?’
‘You’ve never heard it?’
Because it’s on all of Neil’s best-ofs I assumed it must have been a big US hit back in the day but, no, it was only a Billboard #65. Who knew?
Still, it’s a track on one of my all-time favourite records, Neil’s ’12 Greatest Hits’ (a mid 70s vinyl comp). I played it for him, realising – as I always do – that there are several lines I’ve never been able to work out. They sound like random goobledegook – albeit very effectively emotive ones. (Similarly with ‘Holly Holy’, Neil can somehow make near nonsense sound utterly profound through the sheer commitment of his performance and the brilliance of his chord changes/arrangements.)
So I’ve finally got around to looking the lyrics up. I still don’t know who seven of these people are, but at least I know » Continue Reading.
Last November I sped down to Dublin (100 miles south) to see Irish jazz guitar legend Tommy Halferty’s 70th birthday concert. I was unfamiliar with Tom’s music, though I knew the name. (I realise there will be several Afterworders who will now tell me they have 20 of his albums and how come I don’s – but there just isn’t enough time in the world to hear everything, especially if a large part of your day job is documenting things that happened 50 years ago.) I went because I’d just heard the great Norma Winstone would be there, a fabulous English singer of 50 years standing (hence, I knew her vintage works…).
The whole show – a set with Norma then a trio set then a one-off septet, playing seven pieces of Tom’s arranged for the occasion by bassist Ronan Guilfoyle who, as far as I can see, sort of runs Irish jazz.
It was professionally filmed and here is a wonderful edit of some of the evening with great sound.
It was uploaded in March, but I’ve only noticed it tonight. The reason I did was because my friend Scott Flanigan – a fabulous pianist and arguably Ireland’s leading » Continue Reading.
…came out before Tim Buckley’s own version. Who knew?
Rummaging through early 60s music magazines, one is struck by the wealth of hit-makers and personalities who are all but forgotten today. You wouldn’t believe how big the Bachelors were, for instance, and names like Mark Wynter, Adrienne Poster, Carol Deene, Susan Maughan, Daryl Quist, Frankie Vaughan and many more.
Another was Karl Denver. Here he is in the mid 70s in a frankly mind-boggling performance. Be warned, it contains a fusion solo.
…appears to be Martin Hughes-Games. Having apparently gone down an evolutionary dead-end (by being a middle-aged white man) somewhere in between Winterwatch and Springwatch, with his place in the eco-system seemingly having been supplanted by another species (a young black woman), the lesser-spotted MHG staged a heroic comeback at the start of this current Springwatch series, having benefitted from some excellent conservation (i.e. lots of people writing to Radio Times saying it wasn’t fair).
But it may only have been an Indian summer, a last hurrah… From managing to more or less tolerably share the eco-system with the new entrant during the first couple of days of Springwatch, the MHG was soon pushed out of its natural habitat, forced to migrate from Sherbourn first to North Wales – momentarily invading the territory of a hardier beast, a Iolo Williams, down by the sand dunes, before being driven north the following day, to be spotted hanging around a beaver’s dam in Perthshire.
Concerned wildlife experts and media commentators anticipate it can only be a matter of days before this individual, believed the last of his species, will be lured to the uttermost north – somewhere around, say, the Shetlands – by » Continue Reading.
Here’s a question for the French-speaking AW massif – is John McLaughlin stating that he met George Martin during a Peter & Gordon session around 5 mins in here? In what I don’t doubt is a wide-ranging interview… in a language I can’t speak…
I’m thinking of doing a bit of crowdsourcing – after a suggestion by Twang – for one of the music biog books I’m working on. I’d always planned it to be a limited edition self-published affair, and I could stretch to just about doing it myself (finding the two or three weeks necessary to get the text finished is the problem at the moment, with other calls on my time) but the Kickstarter route seems attractive. Anyone got any advice or direct experience?
I’ve mentioned the Hardchargers around here before – a sensational blues trio from NI, with a national debut album due later this year. Here is their frontman and songwriter Lonesome Chris Todd doing his solo thing with 12-string guitar and slide. Enjoy!
Here’s a nice snapshot of a week in December at New York’s Blue Note for Chick Corea’s 75th birthday, with John McLaughlin. Gail Moran, from MO Mk2, can also be glimpsed. John teases the audiences about ‘wrong notes’. I refuse to believe him!
Here’s a chap, Arthur, on drums, who’s doing a short recital of Mahavishnu Orchestra music in fullment of a degree. Unfortunately there are two errors in the text at the start of his video, but let’s hope the examiners don’t notice…
Anyone waiting for the 999 live album on Record Store Day?
This is a terrific seven minute summation of the Shamsters, from a punk TV Top 10 in, I’m guessing, the early 2000s. I’ve often wondered why there hasn’t been a definitive retrospective Sham docco, but perhaps this is all one really needs?
Every time I’m in a queue at my local grocery store I see – seemingly week in, week out – ghastly looking women’s magazines in garish background colours with unflattering photos of Judy Finnegan on the cover. Very occasionally of Dawn French, but usually Judy. For non UK readers Judy Finnegan is a middle-aged former daytime TV show presenter. I suppose you could say she’s put on a bit of weight, but so what. She is no longer a public figure, as far as I’m aware. Somehow, vast numbers of these trashy looking women’s magazines seem to be more of less entirely based on serving up ever more unflattering paparazzi pics of Judy on the cover with sensational (and almost certainly non-story promoting) headlines such as ‘Fat!!!!’ ‘Wrinkles!!!’ ‘Judy goes shopping!!!!’ ‘Judy puts bins out!!!’
My question (specifically to AW women) is this: who buys this sh*t? Is there REALLY a commercially significant tranche of women who want to buy magazines promising photos of flabby has-beens minding their own business? Why?!?
The great man will be playing a farewell tour of the US in November/December – and playing a set of Mahavishnu Orchestra music for the first time since, well, the Mahavishnu Orchestra!
He played a few Mahavishnu numbers during the late 70s with his One Truth Band, and in his trio with Larry Coryell and Paco de Lucia circa 1980, but then there was nothing until the past three years or so, when he introduced ‘You Know, You Know’ into his current band’s set, and at a couple of recent New York residencies guesting with Chick Corea, where he revisited ‘Miles Beyond’ and, on one occasion, ‘Smile of the Beyond’. Presumably Miles smiled in the beyond.
John’s playing style and, in particular, his guitar sound have changed markedly since the MO era. Let’s hope the inner mounting flame is still there!
…share some music that you listen to, when you need the fever in your head to cool down for a few minutes…..
That’s it….I’m selling my guitars….this is just glorious…and I have to share…..
I’ve just come across a reference in a 1962 ‘Jazz Monthly’ to a CBS compilation LP, ‘Who’s Who In The Swinging Sixties’ – with ‘swinging’ in this case clearly a play on the idea of ‘swing’ as a jazz term and ‘swinging’ as an adjective denoting ebullience. I wondered if this may have been, in fact, the debut appearance of the phrase, albeit in a slightly different context to the one we’re all familiar with (Carnaby Street, London, 1965, etc.). Certainly, the first appearance of the term ‘Swinging London’ in print – from which I think the wider notion of the ‘swinging sixties’ derived – was in a famous ‘Time’ magazine cover story of April 1966.
In the book ‘Days In The Life: Voices From The English Underground 1961-1971’ (Heinemann, 1988), by Jonathon Green, Time magazine’s cultural commentator of the time, Andrea Adam, recalled the origin of that phrase:
‘As I remember it, the expression ‘Swinging London’ just came out of the blue. One of the editors on Time used it jokingly. Somebody said, ‘Oh hey… what about that?’ We never tried to push it as a concept, but it became the working title for the cover. And it caught » Continue Reading.
This may surprise some around here, but I don’t listen to music that often and, within that modicum of time, there has been very little during the last couple of years which has included the Mahavishnu Orchestra (I KNOW it’s all great, and I can hear it in my heard any time…). But sometimes a solid burst of vintage Mahavishnu is a delight.
Having just reminded myself of the first 40-odd minutes of this show from the Birds Of Fire tour in 1973, here it is for others to enjoy!
Just realised it’s John McLaughlin’s birthday. Let’s remind ourselves of the great man with this flash from the archives of oblivion (in this case, an obscure Seattle TV station) from 1973. 20 incomparable minutes of the Mk1 MO on the spring 1973 ‘Birds of Fire’ tour, with extracts from Dawn, One Word, Open Country Joy and Vital Transformation.
I stumbled on this newly uploaded vid for Hilary James’ wonderful setting of Will’s ‘Winter’. Good Will to all men (and women)!
This seems to be from Chick Corea’s birthday do in New York a few days ago. Hurrah!