This two-disc set chronicles, in just over two hours, one of the most extraordinarily inventive guitarists and musical minds of the last and current century. From his time with Graham Bond to his work with Miles Davis, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Trio Of Doom (with Jaco Pastorius and Tony Williams), and beyond, McLaughlin has never settled or cared much for delivering anything less than his best.
Often, collections such as this one features as many nadirs as zeniths but, for once, that's been dodged.
Perhaps that, more than anything, speaks to McLaughlin's artistic and human strength more than the tastes of the compilations makers. While "Doxy" (taken from his days with Bond) and "Spectrum" suffer a little sonically, the true truth-seeking quality of both endures. Elsewhere, we visit his work with Carla Bley and Paul Haines ("Rawalpindi Blues"), the quintessential Mahavishnu ("Birds Of Fire," "The Dance Of Maya") and Carlos Santana ("A Love Supreme: Part I: Acknowledgement") from the absolutely essential Love, Devotion, Surrender album.
Disc Two offers more fiery mayhem with "David" (featuring Paco De Lucia and Al Di Meola from the Passion, Grace and Fire disc) and "Electric Dreams, Electric Sighs," which features a rare performance from Indian violin virtuoso L. Shankar. A late collaboration with Davis ("Aura (Introduction)") proves that when these two giants were in each other's company, the spheres aligned to make for impossibly majestic music, while "Two Sisters" demonstrates that McLaughlin's abilities as a composer are on level with his abilities as a guitarist.
While it's easy to get trapped in the thinking that Hendrix, Vai, Clapton, Page, Satriani and so forth are the guitarists of all time, to neglect McLaughlin from that list is akin to denying China's existence as a major global force. Brilliant and essential indeed.
4. Right Off
5. Follow Your Heart
6. Rawalpindi Blues"
7. Goodbye Porkpie Hat
8. Peace One
9. The Dance Of Maya
10. Birds Of Fire
11. A Love Supreme (Part I: Acknowledgement)
1. Wings Of Karma
3. Do You Hear The Voices You Left Behind?
4. My Foolish Heart
5. Electric Dreams, Electric Sighs
6. Dark Prince
8. Aura (Intro)
9. Animato(Third Movement)
10. Two Sisters
11. Wayne's Way