The Music Lounge

Goodbye Pork Pie Hat

Revisiting John McLaughlin’s solo from My Goals Beyond..

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In 1971 jazz-rock guitar virtuoso John McLaughlin released ‘My Goals Beyond’, an album which would become recognised as one of the all-time greats of jazz guitar recordings. It was released in a year renowned for incredible album releases; Led Zeppelin were on their fourth album, The Rolling Stones released ‘Sticky Fingers’, Bowie had ‘Hunky Dory’. It saw Carole King’s ‘Tapestry’ sell the world over, Yes released two classics in ’71 and The Doors were singing ‘LA Woman’. Small wonder then that this solo acoustic album passed most people by, despite McLaughlin’s new-found fame with Miles Davis it sold poorly on release. But in the end quality will always shine through and over the years the word has spread and the album sold and sold on several labels who knew a good thing when they heard it and bought the rights.

This was a clear departure from McLaughlin’s frenzied electric solos with Miles and his previous two albums, Devotion and Extrapolation. This album rubber stamped McLaughlin’s spirituality and the influence it would have on his playing, the album contains some of the most brilliant jazz guitar ever recorded and it also contains the odd slip because despite the technical brilliance it has an edge, a rawness which can only come with someone totally in tune with their instrument and their music.

Charlie Mingus was a huge influence on McLaughlin and ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’ which Mingus wrote and recorded in 1959 has been covered many times, more especially by McLaughlin admirer, Jeff Beck on his 1976 outing ‘Wired’ as well as Joni Mitchell, Stanley Clarke and Larry Coryell. But despite the many excellent versions this is hard to get past, it has jazz, blues and a sense of soul. McLaughlin’s tonality is at once both beautiful and aggressive and should be heard by any serious devotee of the guitar.

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