Classic Rock Review

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The Mahavishnu Orchestra The Lost Trident Sessions (1999)

Mahavishnu Orchestra - The Lost Trident SessionsFrom

The Lost Trident Sessions contains what was meant to be The Mahavishnu Orchestra’s third full-fledged studio album. They recorded this in 1973, but it wasn’t until 1999 when this was released. The story goes that the album was shelved and subsequently lost in the warehouses, and then somebody finally found it, remastered it, and released it.

This was also the last we would see of the classic line-up. McLaughlin formed an entirely new band, and turned Mahavishnu Orchestra into more of a classical music/prog outfit. They were still excellent of course, but that surely alienated much of their fan-base.

Although the material on this “lost” album was probably not a surprise to anyone considering most of it was subsequently released on their live album Between Nothingness and Eternity and Jerry Goodman’s and Jan Hammer’s Like Children. The only completely unreleased track was “John’s Song #2.” The one thing that I miss about this album compared to their earlier two is that it doesn’t contain a track that is quite as emotionally powerful as “The Meeting of the Spirits” or “Birds of Fire.”

But what The Lost Trident Sessions has is a whole lot of phenomenally entertaining and masterful jamming pieces. I’d even wager to say that this is the most wholly entertaining and accessible Mahavishnu Orchestra album ever released.

Take a whiff of “Sister Andrea.” Do you remember the Mahavishnu Orchestra writing such a catchy, bad-ass riff before? That’s like the Rolling Stones; I can listen to it over and over again and never grow tired of it! Seeing that this is the Mahavishnu Orchestra, there is quite a lot more to this song than the riff. It contains extended, sort of spaced-out solo movements, which of course are phenomenally interesting to listen to. “Trilogy” by all accounts is a typical wandering and rambly piece from them.

It starts out quietly and subdued guitar and keyboard solos weave in and out of crescendos while a disparate drum rhythm plays. But then one at one point, it almost seems to threaten to turn into a crunchy heavy metal anthem! They’re previous stuff never even hinted at heavy metal, so in all possibility, this might be the perfect place to begin listening to Mahavishnu Orchestra!

The one thing that this album has over the previous two Mahavishnu Orchestra albums is that there isn’t a single moment I’m bored with. For the most part, every quiet part seemed well deserved and they were masterfully and beautifully evolved loud and booming sections. They’re all interesting to hear develop, and as a listener I’m hanging onto everything. The last three tracks are by far the shortest; “I Wonder” and “Steppings Tones” are three minutes each.

Of course they don’t develop like their 10-minute tracks do, but each of them have their own distinct tones and textures. The former is a thunderous jam that’s based on a rather compelling Bach-like chord progression, and the later is brilliantly subdued and creepy with a particularly excellent violin theme.

The last track, “John’s Song #2” contains some of the wildest, tightest drumming that I’ve ever experienced in rock ‘n’ roll… I mean, just listen to the guy go at it! It’s like he’s trying to give his drum kit a slow death. Of course all the other soloists deliver their lightning-fast noodles with gusto, but I’d say it’s the drummer who steals the spotlight. And he didn’t need a full-fledged solo to give that to him, either! There’s another area The Lost Trident beats their first two albums. There are no stupid drum solos!

Anyone who lovesThe Inner Mountain Flame and Birds of Fire should without question own this album, too, since it completes the trilogy, and also because it is a fantastic jazz-fusion record in its own right. I’m sure that it’s one of the most completely dazzling instrumental rock albums ever released.

March 16, 2013 Posted by | The Mahavishnu Orchestra The Lost Trident Sessions | , | Leave a comment