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Mahavishnu Orchestra - Birds Of Fire CD (album) cover

BIRDS OF FIRE

Mahavishnu Orchestra

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.36 | 840 ratings

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Analog Kid
5 stars The Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Jazz Fusion in general, I discoverd on the Prog-Rock Archives. I probably would not have been exposed to this type of music if I wasn't willing to explore some of the other "Genres". I mostly like Hard Prog (Rush) and Symphonic Prog (YES, Camel), but I have always been able to appreciate any good quality music, and this level of Jazz-Fusion is very high-quality indeed.

Birds of Fire is the first Mahavishnu Orchestra album that I bought. Here are my impressions of the songs on this disc:

1. Birds of Fire (5:43) - A simply stunning opener. After a gradual warm-up, the whole band cuts loose and you really begin to get a taste of what you're in for. With the swirling keyboard sounds of Jan Hammer ever present, John McLaughlin begins to literally assault you with his guitar playing. Incredible performance.

2. Miles Beyond (4:40) - Things slow down a bit. This one begins with some nice simple electronic piano by Hammer, then; the slow percussion of Billy Cobham and bassist Rick Laird come in. Soon the pace picks up, and the electronic violin of Jerry Goodman takes off. Time changes again and again, then slower, quieter.then these "birds of fire" take off again, and again with complex rhythms and sounds.

3. Celestial Terrestial Commuters (2:55) - This is a short, quick number that showcases all the members of the band. It features numerous back and forth solos from McLaughlin, Goodman, and Hammer.

4. Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love (0:21) - A short interlude of experimental music.

5. Thousand Island Park (3:20) - A quieter, more acoustic, track featuring piano, guitar, and bass only. At times, the guitar and piano, duplicating the same notes as if they were one instrument.

6. Hope (1:55) - A much more orchestrated arrangement on this one, with a predominance of violin and percussion.

7. One Word (9:55) - Starting off with nothing but Cobham's snare, the percussive rhythm never stops. Building like a freight train of sound, Jan Hammer's keys, Rick Laird's bass, it's all here. Backing up, then, lunging forward in a dynamic soundscape of true Jazz-Rock fusion. With McLaughlin's guitar on one side, and Goodman's violin on the other, the two musicians begin to trade licks with Jan Hammer's keyboards, which are right in the middle. The sounds just build and build. Cobham taking over for a short solo about 's of the way into this. Then, slowly, it all comes back together for the final devastating moments of this Jazz fusion masterpiece.

8. Sanctuary (5:02) - Slow and haunting. A nice change from the mental thunderstorm that comes just before it. This song has been described as "brooding" and it features Hammer's mini-moog in a very expressive way.

9. Open Country Joy (3:53) - Starts off with some soft violin and mild percussion before exploding into an outright jam of McLaughlin, Goodman, and Hammer. All the while, with Cobham and Laird holding down the groove. A couple of interesting twists and mood changes await the listener.

10. Resolution (2:09) - Rounding out the album, this short 2 minute track sounds like the opening to a larger, possibly unfinished work.

I can easily recommend this selection to anyone intersted in Jazz-Rock Fusion. It is truely a Masterpiece in every sense of the word.

Analog Kid | 5/5 |

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