CLASSICS THAT I HATE
The Lost Trident Sessions has long been considered one of the holy grails of fusion. At the time it was recorded, there was disagreement among the members of the group as to whether the music contained therein was underorchestrated or just fine the way it was. Eventually, the group decided to issue a live set instead to fulfill their contract with Columbia.
Listening to The Lost Trident Sessions demonstrates the wisdom of that decision.
In one sense, the group was never better. Years of touring had tightened their ensemble playing considerably, but ego was getting the better of the band. John McLaughlin insisted on being the main compositional voice of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, which led to acrimony among the other members of the band.
Finally McLaughlin relented and allowed bassist Rick Laird, keyboardist Jan Hammer, and violinist Jerry Goodman to contribute one composition apiece, in the style of the band. Drummer Billy Cobham wisely preferred to channel his compositional energies into solo projects.
Unfortunately, the new compositions didn’t have the heft and depth of McLaughlin’s. Of the three, only Hammer’s Sister Andrea makes much of an impression. The irony is that McLaughlin’s own compositions on this release are a major step down from those on the first two studio albums. They depend more on brute force than anything else, lacking the sophistication of the earlier compositions.
In addition, The Lost Trident Sessions was recorded much too cleanly. It ends up sounding thin. As some of the band members opined at the time, the music could have used some overdubs to fill it out.
The live release that ended up being issued instead of the The Lost Trident Sessions, Between Nothingness & Eternity, left out the weaker tracks on The Lost Trident Sessions, and capitalized on the tremendous energy that band had together live.
For the casual Mahavishnu fan, The Lost Trident Sessions isn’t worth owning — if you really want this music, get Between Nothingness & Eternity instead. Of course, if you are a Mahavishnu completist or are a musician studying the band and it’s music, The Lost Trident Sessions is an essential purchase. But then again, I’m writing for the average discerning jazz music fan, so that’s why I’ve given The Lost Trident Sessions a Don’t Bother rating.