Cincinnati Babyhead

Speaks his mind on music & movies!

Album : Birds of Fire – Mahavishnu Orchestra

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The album opens with a couple  gong strikes, the band starts to filter in with the violin laying down a riff, the drums come in and then boom, guitar and violin play together with the guitar taking a wicked solo and the band still doing their thing in support.  This was hard and heavy, no holding back playing and CB loved it.  Guitar and violin trading licks sounded fantastic and right up CB’s alley.  This first tune introduced the band to CB and it couldn’t have been better.  What a great sound.  The drums were great.  Second cut ‘Miles Beyond ‘ opens with  some cool keyboard by Jan Hammer with Billy Cobham’s drums and Rick Laird’s bass laying down a terrific beat.  Then some great sounding guitar.  Jerry Goodman and John McLaughlin do their thing again with the violin/guitar sound.  Then Mac takes a solo that is out of this world.  Fast and furious.  The band comes back in to join him.  What a sound!  John takes another solo and soars with it.  What a great sounding tune.  What a great sounding record.  They did sound like an orchestra but with a hard rock/jazz edge.

I really didn’t know what to expect from this album.  A friend’s older brother was the one that told me about it.  “Quit messing around and listen to this album”.  The other thing he said was the guitar player and drummer were two of the best.  After the first side I wasn’t going to argue with him (plus he wasn’t the kind of guy you argued with.  He was big and mean).

 

‘One Word’ opens side two with Cobham doing a drum roll that sounds wicked.  He goes to town on this one. Rick Laird does some nice work with a bass solo. The rest of the band are playing underneath building the sound.  This sounds so cool.  Mac comes in with a some fantastic guitar and trades licks with Hammer and Goodman.  This is some loud, hard, great music that CB was digging.  The boys are in a hard groove.  I could sit in this one for a while.  Everybody backs off and this is where BC takes over.  CB was a sucker for drums solos. The band comes back in and finishes up with a flurry (sounds like boxing match).  They change it up on the next one.  CB was liking that about these guys.  All the changes in tempo, but that edge was always there.  The music seemed to be building looking for a release and when they did it was good. ‘Open Country Joy’ starts out with Jerry Goodman playing some softer violin with the band giving a softer support then Boom!  John rips in with Jerry and Jan doing the same thing.  So much for a softer sound.  They do bring it back down.  Love those changes.  The album goes out with a march, a ‘Mahavishnu Orchestra’ march.

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CB absolutely loved this record.  He heard about all the great guitar players that were around at the time.  This was the first time he heard about John McLaughlin.  My buddy’s brother was right.  This guy was something else.  His playing blew CB away.  The same went for Billy Cobham.  Special musicians.  The rest of the band was up to speed.  Jan Hammer on keyboards does some nice work.  Rick Laird was laying down the bass with all this fire around him.  CB was (and still is) a fan of violin in this kind of music.  He heard it a few times in the music he was listening to, Rick Grech with Blind Faith and David Cross with King Crimson.  The Goodman/McLaughlin combo reminded CB of the Fripp/Cross pairing that he had recently been turned onto.  More inter play between Goodman/McLaughlin.

This album has a real hard edge to it and that among other things really appealed to Babyhead’s ear.  The playing on the album is top notch but John M’s guitar is the killer for CB.  His playing along with other guitarists like FZ , Robert Fripp etc were really opening his mind to different styles.  It sounded so good.  Very lucky to have been turned onto John and this band.

This is a good album,  check it out or re- visit.  It’s on fire!

( Note :  CB should say, that at this time in his listening career, bands and music like this, King Crimson, Weather Report,  Herbie Hancock, Yes,  Miles Davis,  Return to Forever,  Genesis,  Pink Floyd,  ELP,  Jack Bruce,  Zappa,   were getting lots of spins on the old turn table.  He was still in the process of discovering a few of them )

 

 

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8 comments on “Album : Birds of Fire – Mahavishnu Orchestra

  1. Jim S.
    April 23, 2017

    Couldn’t agree more, CB. One of the great albums, one of the great bands. You might recall I mentioned on my site that my buddy Steve calls this type of music rock ‘n rolll to the max. The era when this was released was, I think, the last great era of jazz popularity, at least in the US. And while today it seems unlikely that a jazz band would have popularity on a rock star scale, these guys did. My friends and I saw this band up close and personal a couple of times. They did not disappoint.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      April 23, 2017

      I remember the quote from Steve and it fits perfect. I seen most the bands that were making similar music but missed Mahavishnu. A bit of a regret. You got me on that one Doc. These guys would have been perfect live. There has to be someone out there making similar type music. I followed John and Billy’s careers faithfully. cirdecsongs does a nice piece called “Father Time Remains Unbeaten”. There’s a clip of McLaughlin and Corea doing ‘You Know, You Know’. Fantastic.

      Like

  2. 1537
    April 23, 2017

    Great one, always a bit of a toss up for me between this one and Inner Mounting Flame.

    The violining reminds me of Jean Luc Ponty and that really ain’t a bad thing at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      April 23, 2017

      Yes. I heard ‘Birds’ first so that’s the reason. ‘Flame’ is just more of this great music. I got into Ponty after this. I have an album of him doing Zappa stuff. I love the violin/guitar interplay. Goodman and McLaughlin sound so good.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. yeahanotherblogger
    April 23, 2017

    Hi CB. What a great band. Very fantastic.

    I normally don’t buy tix too far in advance. But I bought tix to see JM in November. He says this will be his final tour of the USA.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      April 23, 2017

      Yeah I just heard he was doing that. Like I said above to Music Enthusiast, cirdecsongs did a cool piece and has a clip of John and Chick. Man does Mac look great. And he still has the chops. You are in for a treat. I’d even shake off the cobwebs for that one.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. catchgroove
    April 26, 2017

    I love everything Johnny Mac has done. Got to see him on one of his acoustic tours years ago. Plus I am jealous of his good looks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      April 26, 2017

      In the same club. I’ve seen most of the people I admire. Not John. I guess I better take care of that soon. As far as the “his good looks”. Genetics and I would guess a pretty healthy life style. (Kind of related. I’ve been immersed in bluegrass lately and find a lot of the same inter play with guitar. mandolin and violin except acoustic. Man can some of those guys play)

      Like

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