233

Mahavishnu Orchestra: Birds Of Fire

Todd S. Jenkins By

Sign in to view read count
Mahavishnu Orchestra: Birds Of Fire For years it's been said around punk circles that the Velvet Underground's first album only sold a thousand copies, but everyone who bought the album went out and formed a band. The Mahavishnu Orchestra's second album, Birds Of Fire, was equally instrumental in building the popularity of fusion, but along the way it went gold and rode the Billboard charts for 11 weeks. 28 years later, this milestone has resurfaced in 20-bit digitally remastered glory, ready to inspire a new crop of aspiring guitar masters worldwide.

Some of John McLaughlin's exotic spirituality and Jan Hammer's synthesizers seem a bit cloying in hindsight (in what other decade could the tiny noise clusters of track 4 have been put to wax?) but the unbridled virtuosity and creativity here remain undiminished. The stunning sonic embroidery of track 3 (what is that, 13/8 time?) can still knock listeners flat on their backs. It's hard to believe the tune was once called Binkies as Jan Hammer claims. Drummer Billy Cobham's insane pace on track 7 could give any veteran drummer pause, and McLaughlin's controlled burblings carry even more propulsive weight in this digital repackaging. Track 5 offers a warm acoustic respite from the electric onslaught, then it's back to the metallic airiness and swell. The bucolic charm in the intro to track 9 belies the imminent urgency to follow. Frank Zappa no doubt took particular inspiration from this track, as its vibe resonates throughout his post-Mothers albums. Bassist Rick Laird and violinist Jerry Goodman add their own unique brands of support and melodicism to McLaughlin's rich stew. An undeniable classic made all the better by modern sonic cleansing.


Track Listing: Birds Of Fire; Miles Beyond; Celestial Terrestrial Commuters; Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love; Thousand Island Park; Hope; One Word; Sanctuary; Open Country Joy; Resolution.

Personnel: John McLaughlin: guitars; Billy Cobham: drums; Jerry Goodman: violin; Jan Hammer: keyboards; Rick Laird: bass.

Title: Birds Of Fire | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Columbia Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Screen Sounds CD/LP/Track Review Screen Sounds
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Rediscovered Ellington CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 20, 2017
Read The Bug CD/LP/Track Review The Bug
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Sing Me Some Cry CD/LP/Track Review Sing Me Some Cry
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Masters In Bordeaux CD/LP/Track Review Masters In Bordeaux
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 19, 2017
Read On Parade In Parede CD/LP/Track Review On Parade In Parede
by John Sharpe
Published: August 19, 2017
Read "Ray Charles Orchestra: Zurich 1961-Swiss Radio Days Jazz Series, Vol. 41" CD/LP/Track Review Ray Charles Orchestra: Zurich 1961-Swiss Radio Days Jazz...
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 8, 2016
Read "Brasil L.I.K.E" CD/LP/Track Review Brasil L.I.K.E
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 30, 2016
Read "Happy Juice" CD/LP/Track Review Happy Juice
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 4, 2017
Read "Trane 90" CD/LP/Track Review Trane 90
by Jim Trageser
Published: December 1, 2016
Read "2nd Thoughts" CD/LP/Track Review 2nd Thoughts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 8, 2017
Read "Saluting Sgt. Pepper" CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 23, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.