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This is a review of the similarities of The Inner Mounting Flame and Birds Of Fire, both performed by the Mahavishnu Orchestra, led by John McLaughlin, the guitarist and composer. The Inner Mounting Flame, originally released in 1971, and re-issued as a remaster in 1999, is the better of the two albums. Birds Of Fire, originally released in 1973, and re-issued as a remaster in 2000, continues some of The Inner Mounting Flame 's themes. The first track of each album is generally considered the 'best' of each disc; and the track "Birds of Fire" is a re-make of the song on The Inner Mounting Flame titled "Meeting Of The Spirits". Both tracks share a not-dissimilar bass-violin ostinato, and swirling background chords. The guitar-violin duet on each are also not all that different. Still the tracks are different enough from each other to make each worthwhile.
The second tracks on each disc ("Dawn" on TIMF; and "Miles Beyond" on BOF, are probably the most accessible tracks on each- though they are very different from each other. The later album is a more Rock-oriented disc and "Miles Beyond" is a Rock number. "Dawn" is more of a jazz track, built around McLaughlin's nimble lead guitar. The third traclks on each album ("The Noonward Race" on TIMF; and "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters" on BOF) were probably the most difficult to play. Excluding a 21 second synthesizer piece, the fourth numbers on each album ("A Lotus On Irish Streams" [TIMF] and "Thousand Island Park" [BOF]) are the 'classical' tracks on each recording.
The fifth numbers of each disc ("Vital Transformation" [TIMF] and "One Word" [BOF]) are the performance showpieces of each album. There the similarities end.
The Inner Mounting Flame: "Meeting of The Spirits"; "Dawn; "The Noonward Race"; "A Lotus On Irish Streams"; "Vital transformation"; "The Dance of Maya", "You Know You Know"; "Awakening".
Birds Of Fire: "Birds Of Fire"; "Miles Beyond"; "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters"; "Sapphire Bullets Of Pure Love"; "Thousand Island Park"; "One Word'; "sanctuary"; "Open Country Joy"; "Resolution".
Personnel: John McLaughlin (guitars); Jan Hammer (keyboards); Billy Cobham (drums); Jerry Goodman (violin); Rick Laird (bass)
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.