MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA — Birds of Fire (review)

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA — Birds of Fire album cover Album · 1973 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
AtomicCrimsonRush
'Birds of Fire', the followup to the incredible debut album, is as good, in some ways perhaps better, than 'Inner Mounting Flame', the jazz fusion masterwork. This second album begins with a gong and then we are off with John McLaughlin's relentless inimitable guitar style. Once again the album is fully instrumental with some of the best virtuoso musicianship of the genre. This band virtually wrote the book on jazz fusion and there are nods to the work and influence of Miles Davis, particularly on the track Miles Beyond, paying homage to the landmark album 'Bitches Brew' from the jazz legend.

The music is a fusion of heavy guitar, using jazz metrical patterns, Indian influences and a dash of Celtic thrown into the mix. The music ranges from intense and off kilter with a range of time signatures, to a beautiful and melancholy pathos. That is the same style as the debut album but this time the sound seems more refined and easily accessible to the average jazz fan. It does not feature the absolute best of MO but as a whole it is a tighter package.

Goodman is once again incredible on violin and the keyboards of Hammer feature a range of crescendos and allegros intermixed with the frenetic guitar of John McLaughlin.

Highlights include Birds of Fire, Miles Beyond (Miles Davis), Thousand Island Park, One Word and Sanctuary.

There are other highlights interspersed in the other tracks but it needs to be listened to as a whole to fully appreciate the innovation and ferociously original style of the band. This album is as legendary and highly revered in the jazz world as the debut album, making the band the revolutionary progenitors of jazz fusion.

The CD does not include any bonus feature tracks which is maddening as it is very short for a CD. But it is still a great musical experience and worthy of masterpiece status in jazz collections.

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