Mahavishnu Orchestra: Birds Of Fire
Some of John McLaughlin's exotic spirituality and Jan Hammer's synthesizers seem a bit cloying in hindsight (in what other decade could the tiny noise clusters of track 4 have been put to wax?) but the unbridled virtuosity and creativity here remain undiminished. The stunning sonic embroidery of track 3 (what is that, 13/8 time?) can still knock listeners flat on their backs. It's hard to believe the tune was once called Binkies as Jan Hammer claims. Drummer Billy Cobham's insane pace on track 7 could give any veteran drummer pause, and McLaughlin's controlled burblings carry even more propulsive weight in this digital repackaging. Track 5 offers a warm acoustic respite from the electric onslaught, then it's back to the metallic airiness and swell. The bucolic charm in the intro to track 9 belies the imminent urgency to follow. Frank Zappa no doubt took particular inspiration from this track, as its vibe resonates throughout his post-Mothers albums. Bassist Rick Laird and violinist Jerry Goodman add their own unique brands of support and melodicism to McLaughlin's rich stew. An undeniable classic made all the better by modern sonic cleansing.
Track Listing: Birds Of Fire; Miles Beyond; Celestial Terrestrial Commuters; Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love; Thousand Island Park; Hope; One Word; Sanctuary; Open Country Joy; Resolution.
Personnel: John McLaughlin: guitars; Billy Cobham: drums; Jerry Goodman: violin; Jan Hammer: keyboards; Rick Laird: bass.
Record Label: Columbia Records
Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock