After the reportedly rancorous 1973 split of the original Mahavishnu Orchestra, which left the group's unfinished third studio album to languish in the vaults (the live Between Nothingness & Eternity was issued instead), violinist Jerry Goodman and keyboardist Jan Hammer formed a duo and recorded the album Like Children, which arrived the following year. Hammer was the principal composer of the album's tracks, including album highlight "Country & Eastern Music," while Goodman penned "Topeka" and the closing "I Wonder," and another Mahavishnu alumni, bassist Rick Laird, wrote "Steppings Tones." Goodman and Hammer multi-tracked all the album's songs, with the violinist also playing viola and electric and acoustic mandolin and guitar, and the keyboardist handling bass, drums, and percussion in addition to his arsenal of pianos and synthesizers. The pair also sang. Like Children ranged from the appropriately titled fusiony blend of "Country & Eastern Music" to atmospheric new age and electronics, and even touches of funk, rock, and boogie.
To some, Like Children suggested different directions that John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu ensemble might have taken if Hammer in particular had been allowed a greater compositional role in the group (the first two Mahavishnu albums, 1971's The Inner Mounting Flame and 1972's Birds of Fire, featured McLaughlin compositions exclusively). In fact, Between Nothingness & Eternity did include the Hammer composition "Andrea," and when the band's unreleased third album finally saw the light of day as The Lost Trident Sessions in 1999, it featured several tracks with writing credits aside from McLaughlin: not only the studio version of Hammer's "Andrea," but also versions of Goodman's "I Wonder" and Laird's "Steppings Tones." But the band was splitting apart despite these signs of collaboration that surfaced on disc decades later. At the time of its release in 1974, Like Children was the album that revealed something of what Jerry Goodman & Jan Hammer could accomplish as full creative partners, and a bit of what they might have added to Mahavishnu Orchestra had the group remained intact. As it turned out, they too would go their separate ways, and Like Children would be their only album as a duo. ~ Dave Lynch