John McLaughlin / Mahavishnu Orchestra

Adventures in Radioland

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Though issued under the name John McLaughlin and Mahavishnu, this is in fact the last Mahavishnu Orchestra album to date -- and clearly by 1986, the name's usefulness in the marketplace had come and gone. More distressingly, the musical inspiration had run out; all that's left is extremely virtuosic playing of empty notes and a lot of high-tech electronic flash, a chrome-plated embalming of what once was a fresh, exciting idea. Sure, McLaughlin's Les Paul Gibson has much of its old rock majesty, his acoustic guitar work its flamenco-derived speed, and he gets some sly, even subtle timbres out of his Synclavier Digital guitar. But the background textures are often full of ugly sounds that Mitch Forman contrives from his digital synths, and Danny Gottlieb's work on the Simmons electronic drums sounds like he is beating on trash can lids. Give them credit for political prescience, though; one of the numbers, recorded over 3 1/2 years before the Berlin Wall came down, is called "The Wall Will Fall."

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