In 1973, the Mahavishnu Orchestra was the apotheosis of the new electric music that was so controversially labelled "fusion." The band had developed an extraordinary level of instrumental exchange in which each player flew through the dizzying patterns so aptly described by the title of their second album, BIRDS OF FIRE. This was a music of the moment; despite its complexity, it was a vital part of the popular music mainstream, influential yet inimitable. This "lost" album was shelved in favor of a live recording when the group members couldn't agree on the proper songwriting credits. All of the writing on the first two albums was credited to McLauglin, but here we have superb pieces from Laird ("Steppings Tones"), Hammer ("Sister Andrea") and Goodman ("I Wonder") in addition to McLaughlin's sweeping, orchestral "Dream" and the hard-edged improvisation "Trilogy." This is fusion at its best, daring and innovative, yet viscerally exciting as well.