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Your first question is obvious. Is this 1998 remastered re-release worth grabbing to replace that other CD of this you already own? Yes.The difference is immediately obvious in this superior reissue. There is new warmth, clarity without that cold digital thinness, and an almost LP aura present. When checking recording output levels against my older CD track by track the difference was obvious. My old CD registered -7 compared to +4 for the re-release. Remixing brings out the drums noticeably. That washed-out, bland slurry of sound is gone! For once you hear the infinite mastery of each artist crisply, with good separation, and punch. Some source tape hiss still remains especially on "Dawn". No biggee. Consider the extensive liner notes and groovy historical photos included as a nice bonus.
This has got to be one of, if not the most influential albums ever released. Jazz rock fusion successfully exploded onto the scene in 1971 with this singular vision of guitar legend John McLaughlin. Mclaughlin collected the arsenal of Jerry Goodman on violin, Jan Hammer on keys, Rick Laird on bass, and Billy Cobham on drums.The musicianship, the spirit, the conversational soloing, the unique compositions, the intensity, and the overall effect this release holds is far too superb for this reviewer to dare confine in mere words. Whether it's "The Dance of Maya" or "You Know, You Know", to this day you hear echoes of The Inner Mounting Flame. Consider this. I sat many of my other albums aside to forever collect dust when I discovered The Mahavishnu Orchestra and I remain a jazz rock fusionist to this day, 28 years later.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.