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Mahavishnu Orchestra - Birds Of Fire CD (album) cover

BIRDS OF FIRE

Mahavishnu Orchestra

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.37 | 815 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
5 stars I hesitated long and hard before daring to tackle this monster mainly because I remember the day in 1973 when I bought this fresh off the vinyl shelves where it caused a major hoopla in rock circles and I am glad to see that the furor has not abated since. It was without a qualm, the most insane album at the time, the exhilarated confidence of supreme musicians blistering their way into the deepest prog abyss "with the mission to go where no one has gone before". Impact? Like really! The devastating title opener instills an immediate blizzard of technical prowess welded to some wizard playing. MacLaughlin's brash guitar licking power flames of sublime expression, while legendary drummer Cobham bombards with his usual grandiloquent style. "Miles Beyond": the title implies a Miles Davis feel coz it's a Miles Davis comp! The drums are pure bedlam and the guitar raging like a phosphorus canister. "Celestial Commuters" is brief and torrid; Hammer's astounding synth buzzing like a manic bumble-bee, Baba and violinist Goodman exchange some ferocious solos, while Laird's bass lurks in the background. The next twenty-two seconds are some of the oddest atmospheric stuff you will here, a mere appetizer for the majestic "Thousand Island Park" , a hypnotic oasis with mid-eastern motifs, some Iberian influences (the almost flamenco picking THE man), piano swings and most astoundedly, a clever melody! Laird shows a glimpse of his talent on the 4 string beast. Tremendous music. The barely 2 minute "Hope" is a colossal melody that veers into the neo-classical, led by the transcendent violin, an upward swirling vortex of pure emotion that is simply spellbinding. The epic arrives "One World" with a drum roll straight from Nirvana, a polyrhythmic hyper-shuffle that is downright scary, the 3 soloists defiantly blazing with utter zeal often at breakneck speed, with occasional pools of calm technical mastery (as the brief and insatiable Laird solo), whilst Cobham urges it along with apparent ease. Simply ridiculous, a lesson in percussive bliss! The guitar, the violin and the synth chase each like some bullying brats playing tag in the schoolyard, whipping, lashing and devouring all in one session. Cobham shies not away from extolling his prowess, wolfing down a solo that will excite and confuse. When many of us here rightfully go gaga over him, here is why! The jazz purists at the time hated everything jazz-rock but this was the album that convinced them of their biased idiocy, the technical merits alone sufficed. Case in point! As if that was not yet their last word, "Sanctuary" remains another highlight track, scratching their musical spires through the clouds of lofty creativity, a living organism of sound and emotion, very laid back and showing skills of restraint, as well the power and the fury we know and love. Goodman showcases his immense talent with classy reserve. "Open Country Joy" has been a perennial fave since day one, a breezy, loopy affair that enchants and illuminates, Hammer's e-piano and the suave violin carving delicately with elegant precision which suddenly erupts into a volcanic storm where once again each soloist gets to out do the other, a real "shootout at the fantasy factory" prog style, The slight country fiddle adds so much gracefulness to the proceedings, a total open joy. The grandiose "Resolution" closes out this masterpiece of music, all genres combined. For those few of you who do not get it, perhaps its time to refine what your concept of good music is. This is Miles (oops!) beyond just good. Obviously in the top ten all-time. 5 Flaming Wings
tszirmay | 5/5 |

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