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Birds of Fire

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iTunes Review

Birds of Fire is the second and final studio album by the original, "classic" Mahavishnu lineup, but it's also a cornerstone of the jazz-rock fusion canon. For one thing, the interplay between the front line of guitar hero John McLaughlin, keyboardist Jan Hammer, and former Flock violinist Jerry Goodman is even more fiery and intense here than on the debut album. When the three of them start trading fours (following a lengthy, funky Rick Laird bass solo) on "One Word," it's like the fusion-era equivalent of an old-school bebop cutting session. Of course, McLaughlin's blistering licks are all over the record, but moments like the brassy synth solo on "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters" give hints of the greatness still to come from Hammer. But beyond all the smoldering solos, the tunes by bandleader and sole composer McLaughlin stand as much more than mere vehicles for jamming; they emerge as striking statements in and of themselves, be they contemplative pieces like the acoustic-based "Thousand Island Park" or one of the album's many barn-burners.

Customer Reviews

Still good

This album just passed my 3-buy test. I bought it when it came out, on vinyl, replaced it on cassette, and now bought it on mp3, and no regrets. Yes, I gave it a vacation during the CD era, but it's back now, baby.

Jazz rock fusion at its finest

Upon seeing this album ranked in the 50 albums that built prog rock, I had to check it out.

The energy displayed by the musicians and their obvious talent makes this a great listen, whether you are a fan of jazz or not. I can definitely see the progressive elements in the music that earned this recording a place on the list.

I especially enjoy the track One Word. It is almost 10 minutes long, but only seems to be a couple of minutes long when you listen to it.

Didn't enjoy the song Open Country Joy as much, but it was still okay.


I Don't Know What to say

After listening to this album for the first time, I was left absolutely speechless…. Expletives and bouts of hysterical laughter are the only way that I can describe the majestic array of sound that just found its way into my ear canals. Bless you Mahavishnu Orchestra.


Formed: 1971

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s

One of the premiere fusion groups, the Mahavishnu Orchestra were considered by most observers during their prime to be a rock band, but their sophisticated improvisations actually put their high-powered music between rock and jazz. Founder and leader John McLaughlin had recently played with Miles Davis and Tony Williams' Lifetime. The original lineup of the group was McLaughlin on electric guitar, violinist Jerry Goodman, keyboardist Jan Hammer, electric bassist Rick Laird, and drummer Billy Cobham....
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