Birds of Fire

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Birds of Fire
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 26, 1973[1]
RecordedAugust 1972
StudioCBS Studios, New York
Trident Studios, London
ProducerMahavishnu Orchestra
Mahavishnu Orchestra chronology
The Inner Mounting Flame
Birds of Fire
Between Nothingness & Eternity
Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideA−[3]
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide[5]
The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings[6]

Birds of Fire is the second studio album by jazz fusion band the Mahavishnu Orchestra. It was released in 1973 by Columbia Records and is the last studio album released by the original 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.

The back cover of the album features the poem "Revelation" by Sri Chinmoy.

Release history[edit]

In addition to the standard two-channel stereo album there was also a four-channel quadraphonic version released in 1973 on LP and 8-track tape. The quad LP was encoded in the SQ matrix format.

The first CD issue was in 1986. 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 same content was re-issued on SACD in Japan in 2021 by Sony Music.

The track "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters" appears on the six-CD box set Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology, released by Smithsonian Folkways in 2011, covering the history of jazz.[7]


Reviewing the album for All About Jazz in 2002, Walter Kolosky wrote of the title track:

"Birds of Fire," which opens up the album, is a fusion classic. John McLaughlin scares the hell out of his guitar with his melodic convulsions. If you ever want to frighten a musical neophyte, turn your stereo up really loud and play the cover tune – it's guaranteed to send him or her fleeing.[8]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed by John McLaughlin.

Side one
1."Birds of Fire"5:50
2."Miles Beyond" (dedicated to Miles Davis)4:47
3."Celestial Terrestrial Commuters"2:54
4."Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love"0:24
5."Thousand Island Park"3:23
Side two
7."One Word"9:57
9."Open Country Joy"3:56




  • Ken Scott, Jim Green – audio engineer
  • Ashok (Chris Poisson) – album design
  • Nathan Weiss – Management
  • Pranavananda – photography


Chart (1973) Position
United States (Billboard 200)[9][10] 15
Australia (Kent Music Report)[11] 38


  1. ^ "Birds Of Fire". Spotify. Sony Music Entertainment Inc. Retrieved December 13, 2023.
  2. ^ Ginell, Richard S.. Birds of Fire at AllMusic
  3. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: M". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 2, 2019 – via
  4. ^ Fisher, Tyler. "Mahavishnu Orchestra – Birds of Fire (album review 3) | Sputnikmusic". Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  5. ^ Swenson, J., ed. (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. p. 135. ISBN 0-394-72643-X.
  6. ^ Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2008). The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.). Penguin. p. 922. ISBN 978-0-141-03401-0.
  7. ^ "Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 September 2022.
  8. ^ Kolosky, Walter (16 November 2002). "Mahavishnu Orchestra: Birds of Fire". All About Jazz. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  9. ^ "Birds of Fire – Mahavishnu Orchestra | Awards | AllMusic". Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  10. ^ Cabison, Rosalie (2013-01-02). "Billboard 200™ on the week of April 7, 1973". Billboard. Retrieved 2024-03-12.
  11. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 188. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.

External links[edit]