John Mclaughlin & The 4th Dimension - Live @Ronnie Scott's album review

Back in his old stomping ground, John Mclaughlin & The 4th Dimension from earlier this year

John Mclaughlin & The 4th Dimension - Live @Ronnie Scott's album artwork

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Live @ Ronnie Scott’s sees John McLaughlin back in the London club where he played in the house band in the 1960s. Recorded in March 2017, the song selections come from opposing ends of McLaughlin’s career, drawn mainly from the first two Mahavishnu Orchestra albums and 2015’s Black Light. McLaughlin plays with a propulsive energy that puts guitarists half his age to shame. Miles Beyond starts out gently restrained with Etienne M’Bappé taking the bassline out for a walk, but McLaughlin’s solo injects the track with a shot of adrenaline. Here Comes The Jiis is a kaleidoscope of colours and moods. From a sinuous opening, it builds up with funky slap bass from M’Bappé, a rousing drum solo from Ranjit Barot, and a typically explosive burst of speed from the bandleader. McLaughlin puts a fusion spin on the blues in New Blues Old Bruise, and the trippy Sanctuary sounds as spaced out now as it did in 1973. Vital Transformation is all syncopated beats and writhing melodic lines that refuse to hold still and Echoes From Then is a freaky R&B jam that goes where other songs fear to tread. Six decades on, McLaughlin’s musical homecoming is cause for celebration.

David West

After starting his writing career covering the unforgiving world of MMA, David moved into music journalism at Rhythm magazine, interviewing legends of the drum kit including Ginger Baker and Neil Peart. A regular contributor to Prog, he’s written for Metal Hammer, The Blues, Country Music Magazine and more. The author of Chasing Dragons: An Introduction To The Martial Arts Film, David shares his thoughts on kung fu movies in essays and videos for 88 Films, Arrow Films, and Eureka Entertainment. He firmly believes Steely Dan’s Reelin’ In The Years is the tuniest tune ever tuned.