Mahavishnu Orchestra - Birds Of Fire CD (album) cover


Mahavishnu Orchestra


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.36 | 929 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars This is one of those albums I appreciate and respect but do not personally like. That said, this or the debut MAHAVISHNU album deserve a place in the collection of any true fan of progressive music.

It's certainly a fine example of jazz/rock fusion, with the amazing technical proficiency the musicians demonstrate reminding us that truly great musicians are adults among children. They certainly make most bands sound amateurish, and are a long way ahead of the current darlings of the 'technical proficiency' set, DREAM THEATER.

But, I repeat, I don't like it. Notice that not many of the reviews of this album talk about the superior songwriting. This is, I think, because songwriting was a secondary concern. This is often true of jazz/rock fusion, but the very best albums of any genre should invoke deeper emotions than envy or astonishment. I admit a bias toward symphonic prog (my first love), but I've tried to listen widely, and I've given this album a great deal of my time.

The title track and opener, 'Birds of Fire', is an excellent example of what I mean. Within a minute or so it's told us all it has to say. A fabulous violin-led main theme presages the first of many soulless McLaughlin guitar solos. Problem is, when the music is already racing along at 110%, where can a solo take it? The song - and the album - needs a greater dynamic range to work for me. Give me one of FRANK ZAPPA'S fusion albums any day: though they are nowhere near as technically proficient, they're a great deal more enjoyable.

Four stars, then, in recognition of the power and skill of the musicians. But, in terms of enjoyment, it barely scrapes three stars for me.

russellk | 4/5 |


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