The Lost Trident Sessions (Columbia Legacy CK 65959)
Rec: Trident Studios, London, 25-29/6/73
Engineer: Ken Scott
Tracks: Dream; Trilogy; Sister Andrea; I Wonder; Steppings Tones; John’s Song #2
Note: 40 minutes of prime unreleased MO Mk 1 music from the aborted third studio LP sessions with Birds Of Fire co-producer Ken Scott. The first three tracks were recorded live two months later for Between Nothingness & Eternity; Jerry’s ‘I Wonder’ and Rick’s ‘Steppings Tones’ were often performed live by the MO in its last six months; ‘John’s Song #2’ is unique to this recording. This release was taken from a surviving mixdown of the sessions. Purportedly, the multi-tracks have since been discovered. A finished mix with the benefits of modern technology would be most welcome.
Montreux Concerts (Warner Music 5050466970121)
Note: A prohibitively priced 17CD box set including most of the Montreux Jazz Festival concerts with which John McLaughlin has been involved. Of relevance here is the 7/7/74 concert (across two discs) by the second Mahavishnu Orchestra. This concert was later made available as a mix of audio and video tracks, with remastered sound, on the Montreux DVD (see below).
Live At Montreux 1974/1984 (Eagle Rock EREDV640)
Rec: 7/7/74 & 1984
Note: It remains utterly bewildering and not a little annoying that only 50 minutes of the 104 minutes of available video from the 1974 MO2 Montreux concert was included on this 2DVD set. There has never been a satisfactory explanation for this. On the other hand, the entire concert is included in audio form with excellent remastered sound - including the 17 minute encore ‘Dawn’, which was not filmed. The second disc, of John’s 1984 ‘Mahavishnu’ band, has no connection in sound or personnel to the 1971-75 MO.
The Original Mahavishnu Orchestra
The Complete Columbia Albums Collection (Columbia Legacy 88697930342)
Note: This set contains all four previously released MO1 albums, including The Lost Trident Sessions, in replica LP slipcases with matching on-body livery plus a fifth disc entitled Unreleased Tracks From Between Nothingness & Eternity. In addition, the disc of The Inner Mounting Flame has had the Mar-Y-Sol LP 1972 live performance of ‘The Noonward Race’ added to it (in unabridged 15 minute form, compared with the LP’s 13 minute edit). Three of the four previously released discs appear to be essentially the same in terms of mastering, but Between Nothingness & Eternity is a revelation: a fabulous remastering plus an additional minute or so of ‘Sister Andrea’ (the original LP version containing a hitherto unknown edit). The set comes with a 16 page booklet of photos, credits and a short note from John McLaughlin. Bafflingly, the recording date credits given for the newly mixed tracks from the August 17-18 1973 Central Park live recordings are incorrect. Columbia recorded both nights on multi-track; MO sound engineer Dinky Dawson also recorded both nights, as soundboard two-tracks (missing the end of ‘Dance Of Maya’ from 17/8/73, and missing all of ‘Hope’ and the first half of ‘Awakening’ from 18/8/73), and these are extant and circulating; an audience recording from August 17 (missing only the end of ‘Dance Of Maya’) also circulates. With these, plus the original Between Nothingness & Eternity, it is possible to identify with certainty the provenance of the material on the box set’s fifth disc. For the record, the tracks played on each night were as follows:
August 17 1973:
You Know, You Know *
One Word *
The Dance Of Maya *
August 18 1973:
Sister Andrea (BN&E)
Steppings Tones *
Vital Transformation *
Tracks marked BN&E appear on Between Nothingness & Eternity; tracks marked * appear on The Complete Columbia Albums Collection bonus disc. The Columbia Albums box set miscredits the dates of ‘Hope’, ‘You Know, You Know’ and ‘Steppings Tones’ and fails to give any recording date to ‘The Dance Of Maya’. The biggest mystery is why the sole performance of Jerry’s ‘I Wonder’ was not included on the bonus disc. The performance of ‘Hope’ on 17/8/73 was brasher (Billy crashing around throughout on cymbals) and 20 seconds longer. Other than that, the choice of which ‘Awakening’ and ‘One Word’ to use was presumably down to the personal preference of John McLaughlin, who oversaw the mix. On the latter point, and as welcome as an official release for this material is, it may be said that the mix on the bonus disc somehow lacks the visceral power - or smoothes it out a little - of the original Between Nothingness & Eternity mix. In all, there is roughly 83 minutes of music across the two nights which is thus far unreleased.