In 1969, when this album came out, my music bible was Rolling Stone; I tried to get my hands on every album they reviewed. Once Lester Bangs (before he went completely punk and heavy metal) declared Emergency as the future of rock’n'roll. What did I know from Tony Williams? When he said “rock’n'roll” I thought that’s what he meant. If Lester said it, I bought it.
Geez, what a mistake this was, I thought at the time. My roomate Rodney and I would play the first minute of the record about once a week, and scratch it off the turntable in revulsion. This record was rock and it wasn’t jazz. Future? Sure hope I don’t live to hear it.
About six months later Jack Bruce, the bassist from Cream, announced he had joined The Tony Williams Lifetime and they were playing New York with Traffic. Now, he must know something; maybe I’ll go to the show. After all, at least I’ll like Traffic.
Short story long: John McLaughlin was the guitarist and he played louder than any rock band I’d ever heard and my head hurt all night. Larry Young sure didn’t play like I did in my Young Rascals cover band and became my favorite organist. But, from then on, I liked every jazz record I ever heard, no matter how different than Tony Williams. Why? Don’t know, maybe McLaughlin cleared out the wax.
In retrospect, nothing too radical here. Certainly John’s Mahavishnu Orchestra came directly out of this band. Hard rock ended up rocking harder, fusion jazz ruined all these guys innovated, but, for me, a great awakening.