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Mahavishnu Orchestra - Birds Of Fire CD (album) cover

BIRDS OF FIRE

Mahavishnu Orchestra

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.37 | 862 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
5 stars An absolute shred fest ! That is what I kept saying over and over when I first heard this masterpiece. This is the best Jazz / Fusion album I have ever heard, and I am especially blown away by the light speed playing of John McLaughlin and the monster drumming of Billy Cobham, both are overwhelming. And while there is a lot of unearthly playing at incredible speeds, there is also lots of variety on here as well. When they recorded this album you have to remember they had toured relentlessly in support of their debut record,opening for bands like YES, ELP and the ALLMAN BROTHERS. So they came into the studio knowing each other very well, and were as tight as a band could possibly be. I can only imagine what people in the audience would have felt when they saw these guys live for the first time.

"Birds Of Fire" opens with the clashing sound of a gong over and over before guitar, drums and bass come in. Violin arrives and is really prominant along with the drumming. That is until McLaughlin sets the song on fire ! We're not worthy ! He just wails on that thing, making it cry out and do pretty much what he wants it to do. Unbelievable. Violin comes and goes. "Miles Beyond" is a Miles Davis cover. You have to remember that both McLaughlin and Cobham played previously with the great trumpet player. This one opens with Hammer on keys as drums join in as the sound gets louder as guitar and violin join in.There is a pastoral section before Cobham shows off his astonishing talent. Not to be out done the gunslinger McLaughlin fires off a few rounds at high speed 3 minutes in. Violin returns to end it. "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters" features Cobham and McLaughlin again showing off their outlandish talents.The guitar and vioin trade solos wonderfully. Hammer offers up a dose of mini-moog.

"Sapphire Bullets Of Pure Love" is 21 seconds of experimental and spacey sounds. "Thousand Island Park" is a beautiful track where we are treated to grand piano, upright bass and intricately, complex acoustic guitar melodies. The only acoustic track on here. "Hope" is an intense song with drums, violin and keys leading the way. Check out the drum intro on "One Word" as guitar, keys and bass arrive a minute in. Cobham is relentless as his drumming builds. Laird on bass joins Cobham to create magic as they go on and on until the guitar comes ripping in followed by the violin as they trade solos. Cobham is the only one left standing after 6 minutes and he puts on a clinic for over 2 minutes and then everyone returns to the fray to end it. "Sanctuary" is a darker track with drums, bass and keys dominating as the guitar and violin come and go.This is a time to catch our breaths and reflect. Cool song. "Open Country Joy" is such a good song.The liquid keys are so inviting as tasteful violin comes in. Then a minute in after a brief silence we get an outburst as violin and guitar rip it up. The mellow melody from the beginning returns to end it. Nice contrast. "Resolution" is the 2 minute closer that is so powerful, catchy and amazing. It builds slowly right to the end.

This is so technical yet so emotional, a rare combination that makes this recording extraordinary to say the least.

Mellotron Storm | 5/5 |

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