Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection
4.5 stars really!!!!
As I explained in the BoF review, the tensions between Hammer and Goodman on one side and McLaughlin and Cobham on the other, started destroying the group and taking into the abyss the third album’s recording sessions with the group, Columbia decided to bring out as a third offering a live album, which consisted of brand new and unreleased material: the three extended tracks on the live album being found in their original dimension on the Lost Trident Sessions. What really happened is that Mc and Cobham wanted to release the LTS tapes as a finished album, while Hammer, Goodman and now joined by Laird opposed it. This led to an imminent break-up, but the group owing one more album to Columbia settled on recording their august 73 Central Park concert. The group would soldier on until New Year’s Eve in Toledo. After which, McLaughlin build from scratch a new line-up of MO that would go on to record three albums of its own.
One of the premiere fusion groups, the Mahavishnu Orchestra were considered by most observers during their prime to be a rock band, but their sophisticated improvisations actually put their high-powered music between rock and jazz. Founder and leader John McLaughlin had recently played with Miles Davis and Tony Williams' Lifetime.
2007 five CD set, a great installment in Sony/BMG's Original Album Classics series that brings together rare and out of print titles with some best sellers from the Sony/BMG Jazz catalog. Many of these albums have been unavailable on CD for some time and are sought after by collectors. Each set is presented in a high quality, rigid cardboard slipcase containing five 'vinyl replica' mini LP sleeves. This collection from the Jazz ensemble features the albums Inner Mounting Flame, Birds of Fire, Between Nothingness & Eternity, Apocalypse and Visions of the Emerald Beyond.
The first recording of the second Mahavishnu Orchestra was a real stretch for John McLaughlin, an encounter with Michael Tilson Thomas and the London Symphony Orchestra. The union wasn't taken seriously at the time, and it ended up harming the reputation of Thomas – a remarkably adventurous young conductor who defied the stuffy classical powers-that-be and thus probably delayed his eventual rise to the top – more than McLaughlin…
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.