John McLaughlin's first recording as a leader features the future innovator playing guitar in an English quartet. Although McLaughlin contributed all ten pieces, baritonist John Surman actually dominates this music, often swinging quite hard. The historically significant set, although a lesser-known item in McLaughlin's discography, is quite musical and enjoyable in its own right.
The startling thing about My Goal's Beyond is that it points the way toward two directions McLaughlin would take in the future – exploring Indian music and the acoustic guitar – and this while he was in the thick of the burgeoning electronic jazz-rock movement. The first half is a John McLaughlin acoustic guitar tour de force, where he thwacks away with his energetic, single-minded intensity on three jazz standards and five originals (including one genuine self-penned classic, "Follow Your Heart") and adds a few percussion effects via overdubbing.
John McLaughlin & Paco de Lucia: Paco and John - Live at Montreux 1987 it's truly a shame that, all too often, artists with diverse careers become pigeon-holed, defined by the primary genre in which they first achieved notoriety. Take guitarist John McLaughlin, for instance. Ask most jazz fans about him and what will first come out of most of their mouths will include either the words "fusion," "jazz-rock" and/or Miles Davis, in any permutation/combination (not that there's anything wrong with that). Those a little further in the know might also be aware of his longstanding investigation into the nexus of eastern and western music with his Indo-collaboration, Shakti.
Where Fortune Smiles is really a John Surman recording, but subsequent re-releases have passed the credit on to John McLaughlin (for obvious reasons). The music is similar to but more dense than Extrapolation. McLaughlin's raw sound was starting to take shape by this time and his impeccable chops are on full display. So too are those of the underrated vibraphonist Karl Berger and, of course, soprano saxophonist Surman. The foundation is held loosely in place by bassist Dave Holland and drummer Stu Martin. It's a challenging but interesting listen, especially given McLaughlin's later success and popularity.
A household name since the early '70s, John McLaughlin was an innovative fusion guitarist when he led the Mahavishnu Orchestra and continued living up to his reputation as a phenomenal and consistently inquisitive player through the years. He started on guitar when he was 11 and was initially inspired by blues and swing players. John McLaughlin worked with David Bowie, Alexis Korner, Graham Bond, Ginger Baker, and others in the 1960s and played free jazz with Gunter Hampel for six months. His first album was a classic (1969's Extrapolation) and was followed by an obscurity for the Dawns label with John Surman, a quintet set with Larry Young (Devotion), and My Goals Beyond in 1970 which was half acoustic solos and half jams involving Indian musicians.