The Mahavishnu Orchestra – Visions of the Emerald Beyond

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

On the first track of side one we will happily state for the record: no record rocks harder. When you hear Ponty’s double-tracked violins explode out of each speaker on the first track you will know what we mean when we say this record is as big and as bold a recording statement as any you have ever heard.

It’s yet another triumph from one of our favorite engineers, KEN SCOTT.

This may be jazz, but it’s jazz that ROCKS harder than 98% of the rock records we’ve ever played, and we’ve played thousands. 

None More Hard Rocking

It’s hard to think of another record that rocks as hard, and it’s not even a real rock record! We find ourselves playing albums like Houses of the Holy and Zep II and Dark Side of the Moon for hours and hours (with dozens of copies to get through), work we do on a weekly basis (if you can call it work). If anybody knows Big Rock Sound it’s us. But can we really say that those albums rock any harder than this one?

Visions of the Emerald Beyond is clearly, inarguably one of the best sounding Jazz/Rock Fusion Albums of All Time. In my experience few records of any kind offer the kind of Dynamics and Energy found on the best pressings of the album — IF you have the size and dynamic firepower to reproduce it.

Ken Scott, Recording Genius

The amazing engineer KEN SCOTT (Ziggy Stardust, Magical Mystery Tour, Honky Chateau, Crime of the Century) is the man responsible for the sound here, but the explosive dynamics are not just for show. They’re here for a reason. This music requires that level of sonic realism; better yet, demands it. In truth, the sound is not only up to the challenge of expressing the life of the music on this album, it positively enhances it.

Side One

Huge, energetic, rich and punchy. The violin is not hard sounding, which means it can really soar above the cacophony without becoming unpleasant.

Side Two

The sound is jumping out of the speakers on this side like you will not believe. Big and open as any we heard.

Again, the violin is not screechy or thin, and every other instrument falls into place tonally around it.

If you’re a fan of the Dixie Dregs, especially the album Dregs of the Earth, the first track here, Cosmic Strut, should sound very familiar. I’m guessing those boys were big fans of this band and this album in particular.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Eternity’s Breath Part 1
Eternity’s Breath Part 2
Lila’s Dance
Can’t Stand Your Funk
Pastoral
Faith

Side Two

Cosmic Strut
If I Could See
Be Happy
Earth Ship
Pegasus
Opus
On the Way Home to Earth

AMG Review

As the second album to document the second Mahavishnu Orchestra, this one isn’t as, well, apocalyptic as its predecessor, yet it does focus more intently on the band itself. Jean-Luc Ponty’s curling electric violin lines help give this Mahavishnu band a more European sound than its predecessor, and some of the orchestral concepts of Apocalypse work their way into the picture via comments by a string trio and trumpet/sax duo.

This band also had some interest in a bombastic funk direction that may have been borrowed from Mr. “Chameleon” Herbie Hancock, and would later be followed by Mahavishnu Two’s drummer, Michael Walden. Gayle Moran’s ethereal vocals don’t date as badly as those on many jazz-rock records; at least she can sing.

Overall, this Mahavishnu edition is more refined and not as aggressive as the first — although they could charge ahead pretty hard, as “Be Happy” and “On the Way Home to Earth” demonstrate — yet they were still capable of making memorable electric music.