John McLAUGHLIN – My Goals Beyond 1970

John McLAUGHLIN – My Goals Beyond 1970
1987 Issue.


Could this be the granddaddy of both new age and the world music movement? Fresh from his sojourn with Miles Davis’s groundbreaking electric fusion band, guitarist John McLaughlin continued to explore that style with his own explosive electric group, the Mahavishnu Orchestra. However, he also recognized an affinity between jazz and Indian music, and began that investigation–which would later come to encompass his band, Shakti–with this acoustic date. My Goals Beyond is essentially two records: the first half a group session featuring Miles Davis bandmates Airto, Billy Cobham, Badal Roy, and Dave Liebman, as well as sitarist Mahalakshmi, violinist Jerry Goodman and bassist Charlie Haden; the second a solo guitar collection that combines originals with the modern jazz standards “Goodbye Pork-Pie Hat” and “Blue in Green.” In its melding of international styles, and reliance on acoustic performances, My Goals Beyond is both a trendsetter and a harbinger of musical movements to come. Despite the passage of time, few of the albums it spawned live up to the performances it contains.
Featuring: John McLaughlin, Airto Moreira, Charlie Haden, Billy Cobham, Jerry Goodman, Mahalakshimi, Badal Roy, Dave Liebman When John McLaughlin arrived in New York from his native England , the twenty-seven year old guitarist was virtually unknown in the United States. But in no time at all he would find himself an integral part of some of the most important jazz activity then taking place in this country, with a rapidly growing reputation that would soon have him acknowledged as the foremost guitar player of the 1970s. When My Goals Beyond was released in 1971 Down Beat praised it as 3a compelling new view of the most exciting guitarist playing today,2 and Robert Palmer called it in Rolling Stone 3a quietly beautiful LP, certainly McLaughlin1s best.2 As the years have gone by its reputation has continued to grow and it has come to be regarded as a modern classic. For the critic Joachim E. Brendt, My Goals Beyond is the 3record which really established solo guitar playing – the forerunner of hundreds of solo guitar records which followed – and, in my opinion, it is still the most beautiful of them all.2 Knit Classics is proud to make My Goals Beyond available once again.
Technically, the acoustic guitar playing on 1970’s My Goals Beyond does not approach the skill exhibited on most of John McLaughlin’s recordings. Flubbed notes pop up here and there, and although this album is famous for McLaughlin’s solo renderings of such classic tunes as Mingus’ Good-Bye Pork-Pie Hat, Bill Evans and Miles Davis’ Blue in Green and his own wonderful composition Follow Your Heart, Mclaughlin actually pre-recorded the chords and soloed over them.
However, no small amount of flubbing or overdubbing can take away from the fact that this album is a true masterpiece. MGB set standards for acoustic guitar playing which remain today. McLaughlin’s soloing and chord playing was a revelation even to those familiar with his electric guitar style. He snapped the steel strings with the confidence of a warrior. His playing was amazingly fast, yet still melodic, and his tune selection was unusually eclectic. He was coming from an entirely new place.

The most impressive performance is the ensemble rendering of McLaughlin’s Peace One. Charlie Haden opens the composition with an infectious bass groove, and the tune features crisp, snapping acoustic guitar and Far Eastern tonal colors. Dave Liebman is especially up front on sax. Other members of the band included future Mahavishnu Orchestra band mates Billy Cobham and Jerry Goodman. Airto and Badal Roy also come along for the joyful ride. Violinist Goodman, in particular, makes some very strong statements.
By Walter Kolosky.
His profile on the rise after Tony Williams’ Lifetime and participation in two landmark Miles Davis recordings (In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew), British guitarist John McLaughlin became a follower of the teachings of Indian guru Sri Chinmoy and adopted the name “Mahavishnu,” which would soon adorn the title of the legendary band whose formation was just around the corner (literally in a month, from the notes on Jan Hammer’s website) from this album.

My Goals Beyond was really the first album where McLaughlin revealed the full, eye-popping extent of his unassailable virtuosity, showcasing this in an acoustic setting. The album is split into two very distinctive sides. The first side consists of seven solo guitar performances. The songs are double-tracked, McLaughlin laying down accompanying chords over which he executes daredevil leads. Also on a few tracks, there is the addition of cymbals, at times practically subliminal because all ears are on guitar. This was a well-recorded album, and McLaughlin’s passion jolts through every bend of the string and wing-footed run up the fretboard. His guitar lends a tender sensitivity to covers of Charles Mingus’ “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” and Davis’ “Blue in Green,” contrasted against the elasticity and sheer fluidity on such tracks as “Something Spiritual,” “Phillip Lane,” and “Follow Your Heart” (perhaps the track that is most distinctively McLaughlin in terms of composition).

But as good as the solo guitar side is, it is the other side that I almost always gear it up to whenever I put this CD in the player. “Peace One” and “Peace Two” basically show where the talented musician was soon headed over the next decade with his explorations into Indian music via Mahavishnu Orchestra and Shakti. Here he brings together an eclectic grouping of Western and world musicians: the respected jazz artists Dave Liebman and Charlie Haden, future Mahavishnu enlistees Billy Cobham and Jerry Goodman, the Indian and South American percussionists Badal Roy and Airto Moreira.

These two pieces are beautifully mixed so that you can hear each instrument’s contribution quite clearly. My preferred of the two is the dolorous “Peace One,” and a funny observation is that due to the interplay between McLaughlin and the gently galloping motions suggested by Cobham and the percussionists, I thought for many years that this piece was in a sprite, very edgy 9/8 beat, before one day it finally hit me that it was really in a much less complicated, lazy 3/4 shuffle. I still like the former interpretation better, though have trouble recapturing it in my head after the 3/4 light bulb went off. “Peace Two” is much more joyful in tone, with a radiant melodic theme. In its twelve minutes, the band takes the time to loosen up on its structure and explore more off the song’s main path. Whatever your preference, both “Peace” compositions are sublime works, and evoke the same sense of awe as if walking into a holy garden somewhere in an Eastern land at dawn.

When you put these together, I guess it’s not a surprise that this album is regarded as a classic by many. And as impressive as it is, I would say McLaughlin’s best work was even still yet to come.
By Joe McGlinchey.
John McLaughlin- Guitars
Jerry Goodman- Violin
Billy Cobham- Drums
Charlie Haden- Bass
Airto Moreira- Percussion
Badal Roy- Dabla
Dave Liebman- Soprano Sax
Mahalakshimi- Tambura
01. Peace One (J.McLaughlin) (7:12)
02. Peace Two (J.McLaughlin) (12:10)
03. Goodbye Pork-Pie Hat (C.Mingus) (3:15)
04. Something Spiritual (D.Herman) (3:28)
05. Hearts and Flowers (P.D. Bob Cornford) (2:01)
06. Phillip Lane (J.McLaughlin) (2:35)
07. Waltz for Bill Evans (C.Corea) (2:01)
08. Follow Your Heart (J.McLaughlin) (3:15)
09. Song for My Mother (J.McLaughlin) (2:31)
10. Blue in Green (M.Davis) (2:37)

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2 Responses to “John McLAUGHLIN – My Goals Beyond 1970”

  1. This is a gem, great music for listening, contemplating, whatever. It’s a great blend of east and west with fine playing by all. I bought this when it first came out and still fire up the platter from time to time. Even though it worthy of sharing with my mother, who also thought highly of it (She knew music and was a pretty adventurous listener).

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