Mr. Kolosky truly believes that the original Mahavishnu Orchestra is the greatest band that ever was.  So, it's not surprising that this book is written in a, well, fan-boy tone--but not in a bad way.  I too love the original Mahavishnu Orchestra.  I was an insane fan.  McLaughlin's compositions had a profound effect on me as a musician and composer.  At first it was the speed--pure adrenalin--that attracted me.  As I became more and more "advanced" or "mature" musically (I was in my early teens when I got into McLaughlin), I realized just how unique and influential the music generated by McLaughlin at this time is.  So I can appreciate Kolosky's "over-the-top" enthusiastic tone in this book.  

That being the case, it is NOT a scholarly book.  Even the rudimentary analyses in the book contain outrageous phrases such as, "The supernatural proficiency of these musicians..."  Like I said--mega-fan styling.  And there are errors on that account as well.  Now, I'm commenting on what appears in the book--ONLY.  I did not go to Kevin Michael's website.  Anyway, here's part of the analysis of "Dream," in the book:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Harmonically this is primarily correct.  However, one of the most important aspects of McLaughlin's music is its quirky and exotic rhythms within rhythms upon rhythms.  The actual written and performed version is thus:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The 6-note 32nd figure at the end of the first measure is especially stark when combined with the rhythm of the 3-notes in the second measure.  These two measures capture the controlled-spastic-bungee-jump melodic timing of McLaughlin's compositional style.  The line starts off gracefully flying up, up, and up--then it's sucked into a jagged black hole with teeth.  Rinse and repeat.  It's the "uncomfortable" twists in McLaughlin's lines that help deliver the mindboggling frenetic energy of Maha.  

There are lots of great tidbits throughout the book.  There are some very interesting pictures in the book, as well.  I really liked the histories of the members.  The reader learns a lot about all the members, not just McLaughlin.  The reader gains some interesting insights into the individual personalities--providing some understanding of the breakup.  The original band's demise is not a nice and fuzzy tale.  Poor John got harpooned in the back several times by these wonderful fellows.  And to this very day, according to the book, he still can't even so much as talk with some of them.  All of that is covered in the book--and a lot of it is reading between the lines.  Kolosky decides not to name names and tells us that we should be able to figure out who's doing what if we've paid attention throughout the book.  This is true, but I still think it's a copout.  I think Kolosky can't bring himself to tarnish his favorite band's name any more than he has to.  To me, that means he really does not trust the music to stand on its own.  Tisk-tisk, Walter.  

For some "reason," Kolosky seems to have it in for Frank Zappa.  It's just weird.  He gets into Zappa's business nine different times in the book.  There's a quote in the book from someone-or-another stating that Zappa once refused to go on stage after Maha.  What a load of crap.  Sadly, the book is filled with far too much folklore and hearsay similar to this.  It seems to bother Kolosky that Zappa rolled his eyes at McLaughlin's devotion to his spiritual dogma--and wasn't as maudlinly astounded by Maha's virtuosity like the average rockers were.  But Zappa was into Chopin, Schoenberg, Cage, and Varese decades before John McLaughlin was ever heard of.  Zappa was on another plane of understanding that people like Kolosky just will never grasp.  Also noteworthy, Jean Luc Ponty, who played for both Zappa and McLaughlin, felt increasing pressure from John and the other band members to follow Sri Chinmoy's cult.  Ponty also believed that he should have received writing credit on "Pegasus," from the album "Vision of the Emerald Beyond."  Anyway, these two things led to him quitting the band, he says.  

Which leads us again to MO's breakup.  McLaughlin had something very specific in common with Zappa; his band members began to think that they were just as important as he was.  That the MO was all THEIR idea.  THEIR compositions!  Therefore, let the backstabbing begin!  C'mon!  The original members of the Tony Williams Lifetime band had more of a claim to McLaughlin's compositions than Billy, Jan, Jerry, and Rick ever had.  It's laughable!  Let's take a look at the wonderful careers of these band members after the MO.  Billy could have made it huge if he would've stuck to the "Spectrum" model for about 5 years.  But after "Spectrum" he rushed in for the Buddy Rich big band route.  Fail.  He should've been patient and built up a huge cash reserve with the mega heavy sound.  Jan made a good living totally aping McLaughlin's style and applying it to the trendy "Miami Vice" soundtrack.  Good for him, but YAWN musically.  Jerry took a few steps down and a few more laterally to end up a sideman (again) with the Dixie Dregs.  Rick peaked with the MO, in my opinion.  (However, there's nothing but praise for Laird in the book.)  After that it was all downhill to quitsville for Rick.  By the way, listen to Rick's solo on "Between Nothingness and Eternity II"--recently released on iTunes.  There's a live version of the piece "One Word" where Rick takes a solo.  Oh, man.  To be as kind as possible, let's just say that this was illustrative of the fact that Rick was way, WAY in over his head.  And he can NOT keep up with the rest of the band, as well.  "That were crap," Rick.  As you can see, the stories in Kolosky's book were not heartwarming anecdotes for me.  I came away from the book thinking these band members were fools.  (Talented as they were and are.)

On the other side, the book alludes to McLaughlin thinking this was HIS band.  (And???)  There's a story about how McLaughlin got into a limo alone after a gig and was whisked away.  More of that hearsay, folks.  Interesting but...?  Also, it's a fact that none of the band members get residuals from recording sales--only McLaughlin does.  That lil' weasel cellist that mocked unions in the book needs to prick up his ears on this one.  Too bad he was fired from the band with no recourse.  I wonder how that Sri Chinmoy karma is working out for him nowadays.

Most of the rest of the book is about the trials and tribulations of the different incarnations of the band.  Haunted recording studios, and such.  No, really--HAUNTED--with real "live" ghosts! Sigh.  

There's a really interesting and excellently written page about how "Capitalism Swallows Fusion."  He talks quite wisely about the prefab and cloning that just saturated and ruined the "fusion" scene.  I've never seen a genre of music hollowed out so thoroughly and fast--until it hit rock bottom with Kenny G.  It was depressing.  Anything for a buck, eh?  Ugh.  This story can be applied to all genres of music, unfortunately.  This part alone makes the book worth reading.

I think this book helps make one aware of the fact that the original Mahavishnu Orchestra--featuring John McLaughlin--was one incredibly great and influential band.  A pivotal point in the development of music.  McLaughlin, in some ways birthed "shredding."  And as Zappa said in a recorded interview, McLaughlin brought Indian music in and made it his, and everyone else's own.  He showed us how to do it.  Personally, I think McLaughlin's peak was with Shakti.  But, again, that's my personal point of view.  This is the only book exclusively about the Mahavishnu Orchestra and John McLaughlin.  Therefore, it's gold.  It's a really easy read, and quite entertaining, as well.  I appreciate the hard work and devotion it took to write this book.  It isn't boring in the least.  It'll be on my shelf for reference, despite the fact that it's not a "scholarly" book.  Whatever one may or may not think of this book, it's a permanent part of the Maha world now.

Good.

Audio