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Mahavishnu Orchestra - Birds Of Fire CD (album) cover


Mahavishnu Orchestra


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.33 | 1271 ratings

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4 stars The second MO album is generally in the same territory as the first. It features the same line up and once again John McLaughlin composed all the songs. He will be the only remaining member on the next album. One major difference is Jan Hammer has now started using a Moog synthesizer, which contributes to the sound greatly here. The music is a great mix of jazz-rock, hard rock, country and symphonic rock. The playing is fantastic and the sound and production of the album is well done.

The title track opens with a gong. Love the sound of McLaughlin's chorused and phased guitars. Guitar and violin play in unison at points in the song. The drumming and electric piano playing fit the mood of the song perfectly. This track sort of sounds similar to later LTIA-era Crimson. The title of "Miles Beyond" is obviously a reference to John's former employer. This begins with spacey Moog and jazzy Fender Rhodes playing. Drums and bass come in and plays a groove. Guitar and violin later. Some jazzy acoustic guitar at one point.

"Celestial Terrestrial Commuters" not only has a cool title but some great trumpet-like sounds on the Moog. "Thousand Island Park" is just classical piano and acoustic guitar with some jazzy acoustic upright bass. "Hope" is the most frustrating part of the album. It's one of the better musical ideas on the album, but it's so short it almost becomes filler here. There are much longer live versions of this song out there. The song on this album is the musical equivalent of taking candy away from a child.

"One Word" is one of the better songs. Terrific playing from everyone. The drum solo goes on a little too long and seems pointless. What were they thinking? "You know what this album needs? A drum solo! Nobody else is doing drum solos these days." "Open Country Joy" opens on an almost country-rock vibe. Great violin in this part. After a minute the music stops before coming back as a jazz-rock groove with some cool Moog and guitar soloing. Goes back to the country-rock part.

After this album, Hammer and drummer Billy Cobham will start successful solo careers. Violinist Jerry Goodman will be replaced by Jean Luc Ponty, who was McLaughlin's first choice for MO violinist. The group will experiment with orchestras and guitar synthesizers before calling it a day later in the decade. I guess you could put me in the camp that thinks this is the group's finest hour. Definately one of the best fusion albums from the 1970s. If it weren't for the drum solo in "One Word", the short "Sapphire Bullets Of Pure Love" being nothing but static, and "Hope" being way too short, I would be tempted to give this 5 stars. As it is, this gets 4 stars.

zravkapt | 4/5 |


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