'Birds of Fire' was the Mahavishnu Orchestra at its peak. It's more polished than its predecessor, 'The Inner Mounting Flame', while lacking none of that raw, visceral energy. To some ears it will still sound a little rough compared to what has happened since in the fusion area, but there is more than enough heart in it to compensate. It makes so much other fusion music seem, while technically adept, calculated and clinical by comparison. The rapport between the five players is truly remarkable, especially when McLaughlin, Hammer and Goodman trade ever shorter bursts of improvisation, in the manner (though not the style!) of Indian musicians (eg, 'The Word'). If you enjoy instrumental improvisation at the highest level within the big rock sound world, this album is a must-have. It's been remastered very nicely too, so everything is as clear as a bell - or as clear as it can be among all that heavy distortion!
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