Birds of Fire is the second studio album by American jazz fusion band the Mahavishnu Orchestra. It was released on January 3, 1973 by Columbia Records and is the last studio album released by the original band line-up before it dissolved.
As with the group’s previous album, The Inner Mounting Flame, Birds of Fire consists solely of compositions by John McLaughlin. These include the track “Miles Beyond (Miles Davis)”, which McLaughlin dedicated to his friend and former bandleader.
In addition to the standard 2-channel stereo album there was also a 4-channel quadraphonic version released during the 1970s. This appeared on LP in the SQ matrix format.
A remastered version of the album was released on CD in 2000 by Sony Music Entertainment. It features a new set of liner notes by JazzTimes critic Bill Milkowski, as well as photographs of the band. In 2015 the album was re-issued on Super Audio CD by Audio Fidelity containing both the stereo and quad mixes.
The back cover of the album features the poem “Revelation” by Sri Chinmoy. (by wikipedia)
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. (by Richard S. Ginell)
Billy Cobham (drums, percussion)
Jerry Goodman (violin)
Jan Hammer (keyboards, synthesizer)
Rick Laird (bass)
John McLaughlin (guitar)
01. Birds Of Fire 5.49
02. Miles Beyond (dedicated to Miles Davis) 4.45
03. Celestial Terrestrial Commuters 2.55
04. Sapphire Bullets Of Pure Love 0.24
05. Thousand Island Park 3.23
06. Hope 1.56
07. One Word 9.55
08. Sanctuary 5.04
09. Open Country Joy 3.55
10. Resolution 2.10
Music composed by John McLaughlin
And here´s a very intersting album … with music from The Mahavishnu Orchestra … arranged for a string quartet … the Radio String Quartett from Austria (click on the pic):