Mahavishnu Orchestra, founded by famous guitar player John McLaughlin, released its second album, Birds of Fire, in 1974. This album, as it is highly respected by most critics, stacks Mahavishnu's artists up with the finest examples of the rock-jazz fusion movement, such as Miles Davis or the Weather Report. Mahavisnu sets the bar a notch higher for fusion artists in this epic and somewhat unorthodox album not only by demonstrating astounding technical power; Birds of Fire is also beautifully composed and vividly colorful.
As one would quickly discover, Mahavishnu Orchestra does not have vocals; this obviously means that all emotional appeal and ideas must be conveyed without use of words; something I feel is extraordinary when correctly done. This "band", (as I somehow hate to call it), and particularly this album is quite accomplished at sending the brain through an audible roller coaster ranging from dark feelings (Sanctuary) to light moods (Open Country Joy) to intense awe (Birds of Fire) to pshycadelic hypnotism (Intro- Hope); all without the use of vocals! This Jazz/Rock/Funk/Hindu style album enthralls most experienced listeners as it's all-star five members (McLaughlin, Laird, Goodman, Cobham, Hammer) perform very diverse and complex compositions with fluidity and power expected from such artists.
Birds of Fire cannot be discussed solely upon its formidable emotional appeal; technical prowess demonstrated here is epic. Standing out among all percussionists is drummer Billy Cobham. One needs only to listen to the intro of Hope to grasp the raw talent expressed on drums. Goodman on violin also adds a vital and unique piece of this ensemble; the violin in the song birds of fire and open country joy is very technically astounding, contributing elements to this album one would not fathom from such and instrument. While we are on the subject of speaking of mechanics, one must not forget John McLaughlin, the meat and potatoes of this band. McLaughlin...
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