It was 50 years ago that John McLaughlin started the Mahavishnu Orchestra and helped change the course of jazz. This Tuesday, the Vinyl Vault features the fifth album from that groundbreaking band, 1976’s “Inner Worlds.”

By the time McLaughlin and company recorded “Inner Worlds,” the orchestra was on its third incarnation, personnel-wise. For this album, McLaughlin was joined by Narada Michael Walden on drums, percussion, marimba and vocals, Ralphe Armstrong on bass and vocals and Stu Goldberg on keyboards including a multitude of synthesizers.

The album is a bit controversial among hard-core Mahavishnu Orchestra fans. Much of the debate revolves around several vocal tracks on the album, most by drummer Walden, but also one by bassist Armstrong. Not only were vocals, themselves, unusual for a Mahavishnu Orchestra album, but for the most part they dig a soulful, laid-back groove that clashes with the typical Mahavishnu intensity.

But it’s the instrumental tracks where this album shines and that’s where we’ll focus when the album makes its way to the Vinyl Vault. Several of those tracks feature the pyrotechnics that the orchestra was known for, but even then, there’s an exception, the track “Lotus Feet” that combines acoustic guitar, synthesizer and congas. Although the instrumentation was different from McLaughlin’s Indian-focused Shakti band which put out its first album that same year, that cut clearly shares a similar vibe with that band.

Check out “Inner Worlds” this week on the Vinyl Vault, Tuesday, August 10 at 8:30 pm on KUVO JAZZ.

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