Mahavishnu Orchestra
Birds of Fire


4.5
superb

Review

by Killerhit USER (39 Reviews)
March 4th, 2012 | 13 replies


Release Date: 1973 | Tracklist

Review Summary: It's not Prime Time, but it'll do.

The problem with some fusion is that nothing ever really fuses. A few surface aspects of jazz and rock all mixed and added together; in a manner that only confirms the suspicion that jazz-rock is more often than not an oxymoron. And it's not a particularly big favorite to musicians, either. Bassist Randy Jackson said that jazz fusion was easily the hardest genre to pull off correctly; and who can blame him? It's full of guitars flavored with reverb, odd bass soloing, enough time signatures to confuse Oceansize, and a lot of complex rhythms and tempos. Artists such as Miles Davis and Return to Forever have done it, yes; but it takes a lot of talent to do it right. Mahavishnu Orchestra, John McLaughlin's 1970 love child, does this difficult tactic correctly.

Birds of Fire, the second release by this large band, shows the band sharpening their songwriting and composition a good deal better than they had done before. While the sound is definitely in their key style, there are qualities missing from their previous release The Inner Mounting Flame. (Columbia, 1971) However, the changes here are for the better; Birds of Fire is insane. It is so righteously furious and executed with a deadly zeal that you'll be amazed from the whirlwind of upbeat overtones, the building sound, and the groovy signatures: a storm. If there was a word to summarize Birds of Fire, it would be a storm. A great storm of music, sweeping down in a hail of powerful music.

There's not truly a bad one on the album - almost everything seems to work here. The opening track, "Birds of Fire" steals the show - and it's just the opening track - in its 6 minute entirety. Opening with a light guitar riff, it starts to build as those notes die away into a thumping bass riff amongst a throbbing saxophone: after only a minute, everything starts to unfold and erupts. McLaughlin's guitar soloing throughout the song is excellent, right up there with Henry McCullough accuracy. The whole track will jostle you in its own pure voltage. Seems to have the 'outest' changes ever as well: notes implied Ab7+9b13 to Bb7b9 +11, which means potentially A melodic minor to B octatonic symmetric dimished (whole-half) could, in´╗┐ theory, be used since both scales contain the notes in these chords. In other words, this album will rock you like riding the edge of a lightning storm.

There aren't very many issues on this album, give or take a few ones that can be ignored. Hope and Resolution are two shorter track that, with their expansive sound, could be made longer but are sadly only two minutes. The intro of Open Country Joy is the most jazz-credible on the album but goes on for a minute too long, and while the epic One Word (ten minutes in length) is easily the second best track on the whole album, the opening in itself sound very epic at first, but when it starts to go on for three minutes, it would of lasted better two minutes. So the main problem on Birds on Fire is, longevity and length. Also, there could be vocals.

But, if they were aiming for higher ambitions and brighter dreams, they hit them with deadly accuracy. It's a fantastic record, one that you can't and shouldn't find yourself without. They climbed the mountain of this genre; they reached the summit of it. Despite a few little flaws that you can crush under your thumb, Birds of Fire is the band's best release to date, hurtling along with nothing but forty minutes on the album. Just listen to this album, you'd feel like yourself again.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Released in 1973 under C.B.S.



Recent reviews by this author
Phish FuegoPixies EP2
Fuel Puppet StringsSlough Feg Digital Resistance
Camel NudeCamel I Can See Your House from Here
user ratings (366)
Chart.
4.4
superb

Comments:Add a Comment 
Killerhit
March 3rd 2012


5254 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Never been much of a Mahavishnu Orchestra fanboy, but this has to be the most badass jazz fusion album I've ever heard.

This is dedicated to sonic

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
March 3rd 2012


4442 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

inner mounting flame is better in my opinion, i really want to review it in the future. I enjoyed the read, so I'm giving you a Pos.

tarkus
March 3rd 2012


5560 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

pos

album is so m/

Ire
March 3rd 2012


41795 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

psh nice try raven

Killerhit
March 3rd 2012


5254 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"psh nice try raven"


lol nothing amuses you does it

Joemoe1122
March 3rd 2012


28 Comments


God damn do I love this album.

Killerhit
March 4th 2012


5254 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"god damn do I love this album."


Yeah its very good

Palimpsest
March 4th 2012


77 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Fuck, what an amazing album. My favorite parts are the explosive guitar solos that erupt from nowhere, like on Miles Beyond and Open Country Joy.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
March 4th 2012


20987 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album rules.

fulgrim
March 4th 2012


1542 Comments


yeah, album is amazing.

KILL
March 4th 2012


71957 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

awesome albumgood job raven!

Digging: Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out

MrGumby
May 8th 2014


16 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Probably there best, but it still isn't perfect. The only real letdown of the album is Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love. But it's so short so it doesn't annoy me too much.

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
May 8th 2014


16056 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

doctor doctor my brain hurts

Digging: Lo-Pan - Colossus



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy