Artista: Mahavisnu Orchestra
Álbum: Birds of Fire
Género: Jazz rock / Fusión
Género: Jazz rock / Fusión
Lista de Temas:
1. Birds Of Fire
2. Miles Beyond (Miles Davis)
3. Celestial Terrestrial Commuters
4. Sapphire Bullets Of Pure Love
5. Thousand Island Park
7. One Word
9. Open Country Joy
1. Birds Of Fire
2. Miles Beyond (Miles Davis)
3. Celestial Terrestrial Commuters
4. Sapphire Bullets Of Pure Love
5. Thousand Island Park
7. One Word
9. Open Country Joy
- John McLaughlin / guitar
- Jerry Goodman / violin
- Jan Hammer / piano
- Rick Laird / bass
- Billy Cobham / drums
- John McLaughlin / guitar
- Jerry Goodman / violin
- Jan Hammer / piano
- Rick Laird / bass
- Billy Cobham / drums
Y volvió Alberto, nos dejó "Birds of Fire" de Mahavisnu Orchestra, y con este disco se cierra ese selecto círculo de discos fundamentales del jazz rock.
Uno de los discos infaltables si pretendés llenar tu alma los sonidos sagrados.
No voy a escribir mucho, les dejo sendos comentarios de terceros y vamos al disco...
You know, I can't tell if you're really motherfuckin' dumb, or really motherfuckin' smart. El tipo estaba escuchando Silvio Rodríguez mientras medía el agua para el arroz, muy fin de mes, íntimo, acústico, triste, sexy (?). En eso, suena el timbre, nueve y media de la noche es raro. Desde las alturas es posible espiar quien toca sin necesidad de someterse a la incertidumbre del portero eléctrico y de paso evitar las visitas indeseables. La moto señalaba que era Richard Tex Tex, el Profeta de Ringueletgrado, quien osaba caer -Que quiere a esta hora, la puta madre- dicen que se escuchó en Diagonal´s City. La cuestión fue que un mal chiste llevó a un malentendido y ello a cambiar la cena, los condimentos y fomentar esa cosa tan linda que cada familia debe tener: el diálogo. Sin lugar para desarrollar el costado gourmet, panchos, cerveza y fernet; lirismo futbolístico, amores, desencanto, Deep Purple y llegar a porqué El Profeta no siguió los pasos musicales del viejo. Palabras más, palabras menos, fue medio por gil. Pero también porque a su más tierna infancia iba a la casa de las amistades paternas y escuchaban este tipo de cosas que revientan en la cabeza de un niño. Con eso de excusa terminamos viendo videos de estos tipos.J.P. Sastre
Mahavishnu Orchestra fue la formación creada por John McLaughlin que nació de la "Miles Davis Experience" por la que había pasado el
nananaLíder y parte del staff, que lejos estuvo de ser permanente, y que encontró en los movimientos fusionadores impulsados por el trompetista su lugar en el mundo, un mundo tan distinto al de hoy que da miedo pensarlo, siquiera. Miedo a lo desconocido, a lo material y a lo abstracto, a pasarse de rosca una noche de cartón y no contarla. Como occidente no proveía respuestas a estas dudas existenciales, Juan se fue a buscarlas a la India. En realidad se buscó un regional manager (?) del tema que ya estaba viviendo de este lado de la esfera; Sri Chinmoy fue el que bendijo el proyecto y lo bautizó como lo conocemos (dato para Pascuas: el nombre quiere decir "Compasión Divina, poder, justicia" o simplemente "Gran Vishnu") y de paso fue el Pai de la banda que es obligación tener desde que Ravi Shankar los convenció a todos. Tras el exitoso, y también genial, "The Inner Mounting Flame" vino este disco con la siguiente selección del mundo: John McLaughlin (Inglaterra; Guitarra) Billy Cobham (Panamá; batería y percusión), Jerry Goodman (Estados unidos; violín), Jan Hammer (¡Checoslovaco! teclados) y Rick Laird (Irlanda, bajo). Un par de datos interesantes se desprendían de todo esto. El carácter multinacional de la banda que enriquecía la experiencia musical, la incorporación de un violinista con fuerte presencia en los temas, la guitarra de mil (?) cuerdas de JML y el uso del sintetizador Mini Moog, una novedad en este tipo de bandas, si existe tal cosa.
"Birds Of Fire" parece un disco de rock y puede ser, parece un disco del ala vanguardista del jazz y puede ser, usa elementos de la música hindú y puede ser. El disco es contundente, creo que esa es la definición que mejor le cabe, no solo por la energía desplegada sino porque canción a canción va entretejiendo un universo musical del cual es imposible salirse y que al llegar la tremenda "One Word" nos encuentra sometidos a las melodías atonales, los pasajes más lentos y el vértigo que logra la banda cuando cada miembro despliega su talento. Con cover/homenaje a Miles Davis incluido (Miles Beyond), con mucho virtuosismo y fuegos de artificio, diálogos instrumentales geniales y, obvio, la luz de Vishnu, era obvio que el disco tenía destino de clásico. Yo no sé si la India, si Sri Chinmoy y todos esos tenían la posta, pero si inspiraron músicas como esta, ya le debo más que al Gepetto aquel (?).
Es difícil definir como "orquesta" a una banda compuesta sólo por cinco elementos. Sin embargo, la formación capitaneada por John McLaughlin se merece este título. Antes que nada por su impacto sonoro: "Es como un Ferrari; un coche perfecto que viaja a una velocidad descabellada, y que no puede aflojar. A baja velocidad ese tipo de motor se arruina". Así era descrita The Mahavishnu Orchestra por Jeff Beck, gran guitarrista que, en la época de esta declaración, aún no estaba comprometido con "fusion music". Es un hecho que The Mahavishnu Orchestra fue el primer gran grupo de fusión entre el mundo del jazz y el del rock. Miles Davis había "electrificado" el jazz (o la música negra, como él quiere definirla), pero seguía siendo esencialmente un gran solista de la improvisación. John Mclaughlin y sus socios, por el contrario, constituían un núcleo muy similar a una banda de rock. El mismo líder, McLaughlin, era un veterano en incursiones en el rock más duro y experimental de Jimi Hendrix. Sus compañeros de aventura, además, eran todos solistas de extraordinaria capacidad; desde Jerry Goodman, violinista protagonista del paréntesis jazz-rock-clásica del grupo Flock, a Billy Cobham, impresionante batería capaz de inventar un estilo completamente nuevo. Con él la batería deja de ser un metrónomo, capaz de ocasionales vuelos en solitario, para convertirse en un verdadero instrumento solista capaz de batirse en duelo con McLaughlin, Goodman o Jan Hammer. Este último, teclista de origen checoslovaco, sustituía al apoyo rítmico, gracias a su talento innovador en el sintetizador Moog, en esa época aun monofónico. Jan Hammer, además, era un ex batería y, cómo tal, su estilo en el teclado era pragmático, duro y esencialmente rítmico; un manto sonoro que amalgamaba los arranques en solitario de los otros instrumentos. La discografía de The Mahavishnu Orchestra, en su edición original, es escasa pero intensa. Tres álbumes, diferentes entre sí e importantes todos. El primero, 'The Inner mounting flame', apasionado, instrumental y rico en contenidos y referencias. En él cobran vida las enseñanzas del Davis de 'Biches brew', el rock más experimental de Jimi Hendrix, el blues más tradicional, el country e incluso un ritmo de clara inspiración funky. El público y la crítica quedaron turbados frente a esta variada mezcla de estilos. Sin embargo, se intuye que no tiene nada de grosero, y que el cóctel es fruto de la investigación y no de un simple cálculo. Superadas las etiquetas, nace, en el vocabulario musical, el término "jazz- rock". La naturaleza jazz de la orquesta se aviva sobre todo en los conciertos, en los que los temas se desarrollan a través de largas improvisaciones. En directo, temas como 'The dance of Maya' o 'You know, you know' asumen las connotaciones de una verdadera "pieza" para orquesta eléctrica. El único testimonio que queda de esta "transformación" en vivo sólo está disponible en dos discos pirata muy difíciles de encontrar y por tanto carísimos: 'Mahavishnu Orchestra live', de Phonygraph, y 'Bundled sunspray demise', de Kornyphone. El segundo álbum oficial, 'Birds of fire', consagra definitivamente a The Mahavishnu Orchestra como la más innovadora fuerza motriz de la nueva oleada musical. La mezcla de influencias ha tomado cuerpo y sustancia, cubriendo un amplio espectro musical. No hay caídas o disminuciones de tensión. La música oriental se funde con los estilos occidentales sin sufrir traumas, y los músicos gozan de una libertad aparentemente peligrosa. En temas como 'One word' sale a la luz hasta el silencioso y sumiso bajista Rick Laird, capaz de medirse con el mismísimo McLaughlin. Un McLaughlin que adopta, por vez primera, la curiosa guitarra de dos mástiles, que le permite rapidísimos cambios de ritmo, de las doce cuerdas a las tradicionales seis cuerdas para los solos. En 'Birds of fire' también se celebra el definitivo matrimonio de McLaughlin con la cultura y la religión oriental del guru Sri Chinmoy. En la portada de los álbumes, de ahora en adelante, se dará lugar a la predicación y a la poesía del guru con versos de este tipo: "Mi corazón no volverá a estar triste. La noche y el día se disolverán en la Luz además de los trabajos de la Vida, mi alma es como un Pájaro de Fuego que se acerca al Infinito". Los otros componentes de la orquesta no comparten el compromiso espiritual de McLaughlin, y dan muestras de impaciencia artística. Por otra parte, el guitarrista es el líder, soberbio y arrogante, y está poco inclinado a dejar libertad de acción a sus compañeros. Las desavenencias son particularmente violentas, sobre todo entre Hammer y McLaughlin, e inevitablemente llevan a una separación anticipada del grupo. Como testimonio final queda 'Between nothingness and eternity', grabado en directo en el Central Park de Nueva York frente a más de doscientos mil espectadores (un verdadero récord para un grupo instrumental), y que incluye tres largos temas que explotan al máximo el impacto público del grupo. La herencia de The Mahavishnu Orchestra es difícilmente superable: incluso el propio McLaughlin no ha logrado formar un núcleo tan potente y eficaz. Un gran guitarrista de jazz, Larry Coryell, dijo: "Estaba atravesando un puente con mi coche, cuando escuché, por primera vez, 'Birds of fire', por la radio. No había oído nunca nada igual: estaba excitado, había comprendido la dirección musical a seguir. Estaba aturdido hasta el punto de no darme cuenta de que estaba saliendome de la carretera."Erlantz Bikendi Gonzalez
This review is a brief track-by-track survey of Mahavishnu Orchestra's BIRDS OF FIRE ('73). The title track, which commences the album, opens with cymbal, electric twelve string guitar, and synthesizer; then the bass and violin enter, playing the same ostinato. The machinegun speed 12(?) note guitar-violin duet that follows is the shrieking bird, and though 'blistering' is an over-used word, the first of two guitar solos IS blistering, nonharmonic guitar and synthesizer tones added. The shrieking bird duet is repeated several times, but it is the ending that makes the track: 'lava' sonority synthesizer with the appropriate non-harmonic guitar tones. The piece is backed by Billy Cobham's double-bass percussion. "Miles Beyond" (composed by Miles Davis) enters with a synthesizer pedal that continues throughout. The guitar-violin duet is played as well as Miles would have played it on trumpet. There is a quiet interregnum of plucked violin, the synthesizer drone being an ideal backdrop. However, the highlight is a guitar solo screaming perhaps more than those on "Birds Of Fire". Downbeat magazine likened the runs of "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters" to "solar flares" with the most difficult time signature on the album, and the disc's best guitar-violin duet. But best of all is the ascending machine-gun conclusion. "Sapphire Bullets Of Pure Love" is a half minute of 'psychedelic' synthesizer, backed by seemingly random guitar and violin sound effects. Acoustic guitar, piano and bass perform "Thousand Island Park' a 3+ minute synopsis of classical, Romantic and Modern 'classical'. "Hope" is well electronically phased; very distorted Rock guitar chords ascending in easy patterns, yet only a McLaughlin could utilize such a variety of textures. The violin, keyboard- et. al.- do well, but McLaughlin steals the show with the best of both worlds: visceral Rock in sophisticated textures. "One Word" is played not by five musicians, but by one word— Mahavishnu, a colonial jazz organism. The slow, haunting guitar-violin duet melody of "Sanctuary" is the most poignant passage on the album, Jan Hammer's synthesizer screaming a bird song; yet Cobham coulded do much with the plodding meter. "Open Country Joy' has a bustling middle (of 3) segment, an aural impression of city life, with a brief ascending machine-gun guitar solo, as potent as the solos of the title track and "Miles Beyond". Yet the opening & concluding segments are too pastoral, almost Muzak. "Resolution", the disc's coda is a charmingly simple slow, sustained, ascending guitar and violin duet, with the sonority of "sanctuary"— yet perhaps even more haunting. The resolution is the keyboard and drum roll fadeout. Get the reissued CD; it is not merely jazzrock— it is the locus classicus of jazzROCK. Five Stars.Alan Brooks
Emboldened by the popularity of Inner Mounting Flame among rock audiences, the first Mahavishnu Orchestra set out to further define and refine its blistering jazz-rock direction in its second -- and, no thanks to internal feuding, last -- studio album. Although it has much of the screaming rock energy and sometimes exaggerated competitive frenzy of its predecessor, Birds of Fire is audibly more varied in texture, even more tightly organized, and thankfully more musical in content. A remarkable example of precisely choreographed, high-speed solo trading -- with John McLaughlin, Jerry Goodman, and Jan Hammer all of one mind, supported by Billy Cobham's machine-gun drumming and Rick Laird's dancing bass -- can be heard on the aptly named "One Word," and the title track is a defining moment of the group's nearly atonal fury. The band also takes time out for a brief bit of spaced-out electronic burbling and static called "Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love." Yet the most enticing pieces of music on the record are the gorgeous, almost pastoral opening and closing sections to "Open Country Joy," a relaxed, jocular bit of communal jamming that they ought to have pursued further. This album actually became a major crossover hit, rising to number 15 on the pop album charts, and it remains the key item in the first Mahavishnu Orchestra's slim discography.Richard S. Ginell
After appearing on Miles Davis’ landmark opus Bitches Brew, the 30-year-old British-born guitar wizard known as Mahavishnu John McLaughlin birthed his own band and christened it The Mahavishnu Orchestra. His quintet featured virtuoso instrumentalists, each hailing from a different country, each applying his uniquely flavored and unquestionable means towards an end of jazz-fusion nirvana. Birds of Fire, the band’s sophomore effort and gong-heralded opening track knocked the crap out of everyone daring enough to turn on to it in 1973.Wes Long
How much has the world changed since then? Forget the muttonchops and flared pants legs, they’re more than likely on the way back in these days, this album actually charted in a big way. Come on folks, we’re talking about daring (with a capital D) music making a large noise on the Billboard album chart. You don’t think that’s strange? A quick peek at the current top 50 albums will make your head spin. Check it for yourself, Billboard.com, but have your Dramamine handy and don’t say I didn’t warn you. In 1973, this ultra challenging hard rock/jazz fusion exploration began an 11-week stay on the Billboard chart and fully ripened at number 15. Today’s number 15 album? That would be Shaggy’s Hotshot. Glad you took the Dramamine now?
Okay. The times were different. The early ‘70s were ushering in an era of arena rock and the audiences were ripe for a group of virtuosos able to take stage and whim out a multitude of breathtaking musical influences often at sound barrier threatening volumes. Exactly why this isn’t appreciated now is beyond me.
Oh yeah, I know what you’re thinking: “He grew up in the ‘70s, this was HIS music and now he’s trying to force it on us because he’s either unwilling or unable to adapt to the changes of the field he professes to be fairly coherent in.” To which I reply: “Uh, have you listened to Shaggy?” Actually, you’d be wrong. I came of age in a magical era baby, when a young man could ride a giddy hook, a Flock of Seagulls hairdo and a 35 dollar Casio keyboard into the top 40. The 1980s.
The Mahavishnu Orchestra is hell and gone from ‘80s goof. This was a group of players who were masters of their prospective instruments. Right, now you’re thinking: “This is music to be appreciated more so than listened to. The only people deriving pleasure from this album are the theory dipped music geeks capable of hearing their microwave’s done signal and telling you what key it’s in.” Okay, it’s fairly complicated stuff; I’ll let you have that one. Still, we’re talking about a band with an electric pulse and a heart with at least two of its four chambers pumping blood of the rock and roll variety. This will appeal to anyone eager to open their mind and expand their musical horizons.
Twenty seven years later this digitally remastered album is as vibrant and demanding as ever. John’s playing, be it Teddy Bear tender or perilously abrasive, fits nicely amidst the controlled den created by Billy Cobham’s assault on the skins and Jan Hammer’s synthesized acrobatics. Jerry Goodman’s violin provides a bit of a Dixie Dregs type vibe at times, while the slower tempo ditties offer more than a morsel of a Bela Fleck and the Flecktones type feel. Still, both those bands are alive and kicking out great music that’s all but going unnoticed by the general music consumer.
I suppose the only mega-popular band around today that somewhat incorporates the fusion aesthetic into its art is the Dave Matthews Band. So let’s put it this way: Mahavishnu was a peyote fueled Dave Matthews Band, sans vocals, with 20 times the talent and influences plus a baddass seventies tube-amp swagger.
How does one better perfection? How could MO possibly top their incredible Inner Mounting Flame debut album? Well for one, they didn't know that it couldn't be bettered and for two, they actually did it by fiddling and twiddling the tiny imperfections and an increase tightness as they were now well acquainted with each other after pulling 300 concerts over two years, whereas for TIMF, MO had been together a matter of weeks. So in the early fall of 72 came out Birds Of Fire with an outstanding artwork halfway between Rothko and Folon and incendiary music to match both the cover and the title. With an unchanged line-up, MO was now soaring so high that the air is getting thin.Sean Trane
Unlike the debut who had only one track under the 5 minute-mark, Birds Of Fire is made of a myriad of shorter tracks with the just two well over that same 5 minute-mark. One of those being the opening title track that sets the standard even higher than Meeting did on TIMF, with Hammer and McLaughlin trading riffs and links over a wild rhythm section, which violinist Goodman choose to accompany to great affects. This track is most likely imbedded in the vast majority of 40-something western music fans' subconscious mind, because it sounds familiar to almost everyone. A slower Miles Beyond (obviously dedicated to the man with the horn) crescendoes slowly until a huge riff takes the track upside down and once there, only Hammer and Goodman are keeping it alive until Mc and Cob come to the rescue and bring it back on its toes. An amazing trick that shouldn't let anyone
The rest of the tracks on the first side are short thingies insuring quick changes, starting with Celestial Terrestrial Commuting, which obviously influenced Steve Hillage's early solo works (Fish Rising to Open), Sapphire Bullets being just an electronic frenzy. A Spanish piano and guitar duo introducing a Flamenco ambiance where Mc's fiery guitar goes to extreme, while Laird's bass provide plenty of underlying drama and the needle lifts off another Meeting motif reworking, this time called Hope.
The monstrous 10-mins One World (an oldie from the Lifetime days) opens up the flipside, first gently under Cobham4S gentle drive morphing into a martial beat and bringing the track up to 200 MPH, with Hammer, Mc and Goodman trading licks, motifs and soloing away, before Cobham takes a solo (even if he's the best in the world, it's still a boring solo, no matter how overstretched it is) and thankfully closing up the track with some powerful instrumental interplay. Sanctuary is a slow-developing track, opening on Goodman's uber-absolute violin than the rest of the musicians slowly entering the track, in full restraint, the listener can hear the quintet containing their energies to avoid exploding and respect the superb track. Open Country joy is often a bit overlooked, with its pastoral violin line, then a slight explosion before bringing us to one of the world's best album endings: Resolution, which starts on a solemn martial chill-inducing crescendoing track bringing the tension to a max allowable (Goodman's violin is incredibly efficient at this) before the burst.. Which will never come as the track ends and the needle lifts off, leaving us to imagine the explosion of molten volcanic rock in fusion. What a bunch of bloody teasers
Well, MO managed to perfect perfection, and they probably did it without being aware of the feat and actually rushing it up. Indeed the album was done between two tours and most members think they could've twiddled a few more knobs and refined the compositions to better it further still. As can be heard in One World, the three soloists where in a very competitive environment and the egos where now acting up a bit, although in this album it remains at a healthy level.
As a side note, regarding the egos, Mc had been recording his collab with buddy Carlos Santana and taking with him Cobham, eventually touring to promote the Love Devotion Supreme album, hand coming within hours of missing the opening the first concert of MO's tour of Japan, thus being under-rehearsed for a while and creating much bad vibes for the next six months before the group implodes, taking in the abyss the recording sessions of their next album >> see Lost Trident and Nothingness reviews for more details.
For those who love (like me) progressive fusion jazz/rock will need to get your hands on this masterpiece. Without a question the first few MAHAV albums are some of the most aggressive and mind stretching albums of all time. The MAHAV's output from the Trident Studio days are to treasure in your collection for sure. Once again here we get a fantastic collaboration of musical instumentation and musical ideas. John McLaughlin's guitar solos are simply killer and being back by Hammer (keyboards), Laird (bass), Cobham (drums) and Goodman on violin makes this a real keeper. At times "Birds Of Fire" identifies a quasi - KING CRIMSON feel with lots of originality and musical sophistication. If you have high blood pressure, you may not want to plug in this album to your stereo. Absolutely stunning musicanship and one of the best fusion/prog albums your money can buy... Even a Miles Davis tune to bootJames Unger
Honestly i met Mclaughin´s music because of the trio with Paco de Lucia and Al Di Meola, then i found an album of him with Santana, in both cases i noticed his exquisite and awesome guitar playing, then because i was really interested on his music, i found a lot of info about Mahavishnu Orchestra, and also i found that Birds of Fire was a very suggested album with excellent critics, so i got Birds of Fire then.Guillermo H. Urdapilleta
And actually this was my introduction to Mahavishnu´s albums, sometimes the introduction is the most difficult period , i mean because of your introduction to the artist you will determinate if you are interested in other albums or not, if you like it or not, this was the best choice, im not saying that maybe Birds of Fire is the best way to start with Mahavishnu Orchestra, but ít could be, and also if you love jazz fusion, this album is an obligation to you.
Im not so familiarized with jazz, i like it a bit, but this album is simply awesome, it shows us the great musicianship in the band, Mclaughlin is a god of guitar, he plays so fast and so well, along with the violin player who is Jerry Goodman here, they make and excellent couple of superb music, all the band is great ,the drummer is also superb and actually i dont think this albus have weak moments, every song is great and every song make you clear your mind and enjoy the music.
Mahavishnu Orchestra's second effort, Birds of Fire saw the band continue on the raw energy of Inner Mounting Flame. However, the textures are more defined this time around. With Billy Cobham at the top of his art, and flaming solos by the three soloists, John Mclaughlin on guitar, Jan Hammer on keyboards, and Jerry Goodman on electric violin. The album starts with of the most furious songthe band would ever write, the anthemic title track. The song ''One Word'' saw a real battle of solos between the three soloists, and finishing with a wonderful drum solo by Cobham. Mclaughlin took some heat off with beautiful low tempos songs, such as Thousand Island Park, where Hammer and Mclaughlin use acoustic intruments instead of their original furious eletric attacks. A true masterpiece of the fusion genre, Birds of Fire would be the last album of the first incarnation of Mahavishnu's idealogies. A must for any fan of fusion.Philippe Rodriguez
Birds Of Fire is Mahavishnu's follow-up to the ground breaking The Inner Mounting Flame, and if anything, it's an even better album. Even if the shock-value of the musicians' brilliance has diminished, the band seems more balanced (ie, less million-notes a minute solos from guitarist John McLaughlin and keyboardist Jan Hammer's presence is more noticable) and the compositions are more varied.Martin Vengadesan
Not that you'd tell from the opening title track though. It's basically got more of the same, heavy rock jamming that coloured Inner Mounting Flame, with fiery playing by both violinist Jerry Goodman and McLaughlin. Although I think Goodman generally shows more taste in his soloing, this song contains one of McLaughlin's best solo spots and I still think Billy Cobham's drumming is outstanding in a group of titans. Miles Beyond is a more eclectic piece though. It starts off unbelievably cool with Hammer leading on electric piano, but then with a crash, McLaughlin and Goodman take over with some heavy soloing which is then followed by some great acoustic picking ... it takes some getting used to, but overall the piece is pretty awesome.
Celestial Terrestrial Commuters is another one of those rockers where Goodman and McLaughlin spew forth one fiery line after another, although on this track they actually interact more. The 21 second Sapphire Bullets Of Pure Love is obviously not a substantial piece but Thousand Island Park is a stunning acoustic duet starring McLaughlin and Hammer. One of the group's best ever pieces, its starts off in reflective mode before each player shows his true genius with some delectable runs. It's definitely the highlight of this album as far as I'm concerned, even if One Word turns out to be more representative of the band's overall style.
Hope is a brief sweeping piece that starts off pretty interestingly but never really goes anywhere. One Word is the prog-epic jam that thankfully involves all five members of this brilliant band performing at the height of their collective powers, some of the movements and changes of pace here are stunning, Cobham is his usual awesome self and Laird gets to step into the spotlight too. McLaughlin's fills are great, the group's sound is alternatively funky and rocky and the three main soloists all exchange lead lines that range in nature from jazzy to avant-garde to Indian classical before Cobham puts in a great drum solo himself, it may run out of steam a bit towards the end, but I think this is the best of the group's "jam" songs.
Sanctuary is an atmospheric piece with an improvised feel that's interesting but perhaps goes on a little too long while Open Country Joy is sheer brilliance. It starts off with a gorgeous mellow acoustic riff with a violin lead (which I would rather have gone on for longer) before the band crashes back in with Goodman and McLaughlin to the fore as usual, and then just as Mac threatens to take the six-string thing too far, the piece returns to its mellow intro. It's lovely stuff. Resolution is another strong albeit brief guitar-driven piece to end the album.
Like Inner Mounting Flame, this is a brilliant album, and while it's a personal gripe that Hammer doesn't get enough soloing time, this is probably the finest acheivement of a fantastic outfit.
The first time I heard Mahavishnu Orchestra I was completely and utterly blown away by theior welth of power, urgency and thundering musicianship. At the time I was becoming bored with the lack lustre music the ninties had to offer and in particular needed something explosive to give me back the excitement that I first felt when I discovered the bands and acts and singers and songs that gave me a passion for music at what by then seemed a very long time ago. Music had become stagnant and I had lost complete faith in the whole fiasco and so stopped buying newly released music and tried to delve deeper in the history of rock and I decided to go beyond that restricting border and venture into the world of jazz rock fusion, it was time to explore new avenues and open up to the possibilities that the wider spectrum of music could offer .Philip Bourke
I had heard Inner Mounting Flame very passively at a friends flat over a few joints of skunk but the music kept with me especially the musicianship of the players and the speed and intricate guitar playing of John McLaughlin juxtaposed with Jerry Goodman's violin. Birds Of Fire for me is an even better result. Explosive and white hot and each member pushing the borders and creating this overwhelming intense music saturated in a complicit beauty. The precision of the instrumental pieces is almost unbelievable in execution and it is not surprising that the Mahavishnu Orchestra have become arguably the most influential act from the fusion era. This album is a must have for any music lover and to hear McLaughlin/Goodman/Hammer playing off each other is stunning-the title track "Birds Of Fire" and "Open Country Joy" being but two examples- backed by one the finest and surely tightest rhythm sections ever in drummer extroardinaire Billy Cobham, and Northern Irish bassist Rick Laird. Essential.
As I recall, my first encounter with The Mahavishnu Orchestra came sometime in '73. I and some of my scalawag musician buddies were watching the late-night show "In Concert" on television in order to catch The Allman Brothers and MO was the opening act. I'd already read about the group in a magazine but with a name like that I figured them to be some kind of levitating, robed gurus that burned a lot of cheap incense and chanted weird mantras together. However, none of us gathered 'round the boob tube that evening were prepared for what we heard and saw when they started playing. It was one of those magical moments in my life when I knew I was witnessing true greatness and I sensed a permanent reboot and realignment in my mental concepts of what was possible in music. The musicians in the band were creating sounds that might as well have been beamed down to us from another galaxy. To say that it was foreign to our ears is putting it mildly. To say that I was immediately befuddled and galvanized by their tidal wave of sound is a profound understatement. I don't remember if any others in the room were as entranced by them as I was but I can assure you that I didn't give a rat's ass what they thought. I'd found a group that both amazed and excited me and I had to get them on my stereo ASAP.Rollie Anderson
Wanting to hear what they'd played on the show I opted to purchase their "Birds of Fire" album first. I doubt that it left my turntable for months. I was hopelessly addicted to them and I became a real nuisance to my friends by constantly talking about them and opining about how jazz/rock fusion would never be the same because of their wizardry. Little did I know at the time that this particular version of The Mahavishnu Orchestra had jumped the proverbial shark and were already splintering asunder. That news was to be a major disappointment for me yet the fact remains that while they were together they created what I consider a masterpiece of the genre that hasn't lost a single molecule of its ability to instill shock and awe in the listener. Even four decades down the line it is still unsurpassed and I expect that in a thousand years it will continue to make jazz musicians and aficionados go slack-jawed in stunned admiration. Personally, I have yet to get over my astonishment. To this day it blows me away with every spin. A note of caution is in order, though. When playing this disc at home keep anything flammable away from the speakers. There will be sparks.
Drummer extraordinaire Billy Cobham's clanging, flanged gong at the beginning of the record's title song dramatically announces that you're about to go on one of the wildest journeys your aural organs will ever embark on. Leave all preconceived notions behind because this isn't just five guys making a bunch of avant garde noises. This tune, as well as all the others to come, has a solid melodic structure (however frantic it may be due to the velocity involved) that links the individual solos together cohesively, making the incredible make sense. John McLaughlin's guitar, Jerry Goodman's violin and Jan Hammer's keyboard acumen is measured in astronomical terms and the group's intensity is beyond belief. I've never experienced anything similar to it since. "Miles Beyond (Miles Davis)" follows and Jan's soothing Rhodes piano is a much-needed tranquilizer after surviving the hurricane that blew through the opening cut. The song has another memorable melody to wrap your mind around, Goodman's nimble-fingered violin ride displays his versatility and Cobham confirms that he's an unrivaled beast of beats. The next number's name, "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters," says it all except that it's also rush hour in their corner of the universe. The highlight of this insane instrumental is the heated duel that occurs between John and Jerry. It's the stuff of fantasy. Another aspect of their music I love is how they don't stretch out the tracks just for the sake of stretching them out. They don't overstay their welcome.
"Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love" is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it psychedelic moment of Zen that leads to "Thousand Island Park." This is a quieter but no less fascinating piece that takes an all-acoustic approach wherein McLaughlin flies and Hammer soars while bassist Rick Laird holds it all together on the upright. The song is a breath of pure oxygen. "Hope" is a blissfully transcendent, repeating pattern of notes that not only grows brighter by the second but literally moves me to tears. My only complaint is that, lasting less than two minutes, it is cruelly short-lived. This is what a saint's ascension into heaven must use for a soundtrack. Billy's perfect closed roll on his snare at the start of "One World" is like an approaching hailstorm. The band then delivers the complex central theme as well as establishing the tune's blistering tempo. For dynamic tension Laird contributes a modest bass lead to set the stage for what's to come. McLaughlin, Hammer and Goodman then circle into a ménage a trois of virtuosos in which they engage in a contest of other-worldly one-upsmanship that blazes up in ferocity to the spontaneous combustion point where Cobham breaks up the fight with a dazzling drum solo. Even if you're allergic to such things, lend an ear. The man's no stick-mauler, he's a master technician worth paying attention to. The number's appropriately aggressive end segment will singe your eyebrows off. Sheesh McGeesh!
"Sanctuary" slips on a hypnotic waltzing rhythm to lull you into a false sense of knowing exactly where you are as they demonstrate their willingness to restrain their passion but not their emotions. The melody that John and Jerry perform in unison is as sad as a face full of tears. (I'd ask that they play this at my funeral but it would probably just freak folks out so never mind.) The beatific intro to "Open Country Joy" is misleading as they suddenly turn on a dime and switch to a funky groove that struts proudly beneath fiery spasms emanating from the torrid trio before non-chalantly restoring pastoral peace. The closer is the stupendous "Resolution." As is the earlier "Hope," it's a too-brief excursion into ecstasy that climbs and climbs higher and higher to an inexpressible apex that can only be compared to what it must feel like standing upon the summit of Mount Everest. It's not just music, it's an encounter with God.
What these relatively young geniuses do on this album is more than super-speed shredding, they trip the light fandango. They move as fast as bolts of lighting but with the grace of a gazelle. Their debut LP is great and I recommend it but "Birds of Fire" is in a class all its own. It fills me with childlike wonder as few bands have ever done every time I sit and let it wash over me. It just may be my favorite jazz/rock fusion album of all time but that assessment can change from day to day (It does have competition). One thing's for certain. It is without question a pristine masterpiece of modern music and a huge milestone in the evolution of jazz. To rate it as essential doesn't do it justice.
The second album "Birds of Fire" by Mahavishnu Orchestra, led by the incomparable guitar of John McLaughlin, is still at par excellent with the debut album. The Orchestra (the band) still consistent with its musical concept of combining jazz, rock, and eastern influences into a fiery, dynamic tour de force. "Birds of Fire" was the culmination of a solid year for the band as opening gigs for the likes of ELP and YES.Gatot Widayanto
You can find this album is truly a masterpiece one even from the dazzling album opener "Birds of Fire" where violin and guitar played intertwined mode in a composition that rather can be classified under avant-garde. "Miles Beyond" brings the music in the same style but it has many breaks (without drumming) which demonstrate how guitar solo and bass play the part incredibly. The eastern nuance also appears right here. Billy Cobham plays his drum masterfully. "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters" brings the music into a faster tempo and this time Jan Hammer is given a chance to demonstrate his keyboard skills in between guitar solo and violin solo. Interesting track! After a bridge "Saphire .." the band moves into "Thousand Island Park" - a kind like string music featuring electric piano which sounds like Chick Corea, acoustic guitar and acoustic bass. It's a kind of musical break with great performance especially with John with his speed guitar playing.
"One Word" is the longest track in this album and it kicks off beautifully with Billy Cobham's speed snare drum work. The music that follows bring the nuance of intricate and balanced combination of band members virtuosities. This might be the most powerful song compared to other tracks. Rick Laird is given a chance to perform his bass guitar dynamically augmented with guitar rhythm section and keyboard. "Sanctuary" is a mellow track with soft touch guitar and keyboard playing. "Open Country Joy" brings the music into jazzier style with Jan Hammer work together with Jerry Goodman (violin). The music then moves into a very intricate style with violin, guitar and keyboard play intertwiningly. "Resolution" concludes the album with an accessible style and medium tempo. Guitar plays the melody.
It's definitely a masterpiece of prog music. Highly recommended.
For me, the pinnacle of jazz/fusion. This was the second album of the infamous first line-up of MO, and each player brings their own unique style to the music. From the lightning fast fingers of John McLaughlin to the awesome drumming power of Cobham - the whole band overflows with talent and energy. With Birds Of Fire, the band interaction had reached almost un-human levels - playing in such a way that had never before (or since) been matched. Spit-fire solo trade offs and much tighter composition set this album apart from it's more free-form counterpart Inner Mounting Flame, yet the band never loses it's improvisational edge. Even at it's most precise moments the album always has an essence of spontaneity. Some highlight's include the blistering title track, where John and Jerry play the main melody in unison, their instruments coming together to sound like something not of this world - face melting intensity! The first half of the album is rather heavy, before taking a meditative intermission with the beautiful little track "Thousand Island Park" - some very nice acoustic guitar and violin runs, very eastern feel. And of course one cannot ignore the jaw-dropping "One Word" a blistering intro followed by an atmospheric funky jam - soon overcome by some of the most awe inspiring solo trade off's in rock history - it is like the musicians are no longer several people, but one musical entity. Billy also gets to show off his chops in this track - listen for the powerful and complex drum solo (it's hard to miss!).Travis
A mind-bending mixture of jazz, rock, and eastern influence, this album IS the defining moment in jazz fusion.
Most of what we now recognize as Jazz Rock Fusion dates back to the first two albums by John McLaughlin's MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, which ought to be enough reason to locate either on that (sadly, not very remote) Prog Archives plateau of certified five- star masterpieces. "Birds of Fire", in 1973, was the second and more popular of the pair: a sizable crossover hit at a time when even casual music fans were a lot more adventurous than they are today.Michael Neumann
Significance aside, it was also an essential slice of unadulterated instrumental genius, allowing McLaughlin the chance to refine the lessons learned alongside Miles Davis during the legendary "Bitches Brew" sessions a few years earlier. Miles drew the blueprint; McLaughlin built the house, giving it some necessary structure (and brevity: compare any cut here to the monster 27+ minute title jam from Davis' 1969 album), and directing it toward an audience more accustomed to the sounds of Jimi Hendrix.
Like all the best so-called Fusion, this is actually Rock, but played with a jazzer's ear for timing and dexterity. Listen to the aptly titled twin tracks "Hope" and "Resolution", with their endlessly rising chords anticipating what would soon be heard from the "Larks Tongues" line-up of KING CRIMSON (Fripp and McLaughlin were clearly kindred musical spirits). Or the pinpoint speed and precision of "One Word", accelerating to a hypertense climax from an already alarming breakneck pace. Or the furious title track, with McLaughlin trading heat and friction with Jerry Goodman's (electric) violin and Jan Hammer's keyboards.
Loud and fast guitarists were of course not uncommon in the 1970s, but McLaughlin's style was something else entirely: raw and emotional, heartfelt but blistering, and matched only by the superlative talents of his fellow Mahavishnu bandmates, surely one of the most impressive group of musicians ever assembled. But it isn't all virtuoso fireworks. "Miles Beyond" (a tribute of sorts to McLaughlin's mentor, who on "Bitches Brew" had likewise named a song for his guitarist) digs an easygoing groove, and "Open Country Joy" should strike a chord with fans of the DIXIE DREGS more bucolic barnyard excursions. Then there's the 22-second "Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love", a spurt of proto-ambient noise with a title longer than the track itself.
The band imploded during the sessions for an aborted third studio album (see "The Lost Trident Sessions"), but they left behind a long shadow, filled with countless Jazz Rock copycats. Imitation is said to be another form of flattery, but none of it could ever hope to match the original.
Birds of Fire is the Mahavishnu Orchestra's second outing after the ambitious and explosive debut, The Inner Mounting Flame. The classic lineup of McLaughlin, Goodman, Cobham, Hammer, and Laird is back with more fiery fusion and light-speed soloing. Members of the band have claimed, and rightly so in my opinion, that the MO was the first speed metal band. To me, the Mahavishnu Orchestra is what Dream Theater might sound like if the members functioned as a team. Birds of Fire is rightfully labelled the greatest fusion album of all time because it loses little to none of the ferocity of the debut, but it introduces new subtlety more prominent in jazz. You can switch to this album after hearing Coltrane and it fits; likewise, you can listen to it after Yngwie Malmsteen and it won't drop a beat. McLaughlin is the master of the 12 string guitar; most would say Jimmy Page is but anyone in the know credits McLaughlin's fiery solos over Jimmy's almost as inspiring riffing. Birds of Fire would prove to be the last studio album the classic lineup released for two decades. In the 90s, the masters of tracks the lineup was working on were found and the excellent Lost Trident Sessions arrived for a blast of fusion. This album is the pinnacle of fusion and one of, if not the greatest, rock instrumental albums of all time.Jake Cole
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un disco que no podía faltar en nuestro catálogo... ¿hace falta decirles que se los recomiendo enormemento?... y en realidad no se los recomiendo, simplemente es un disco obligado. Y enormemente disfrutable, además.