Miles' 80s music is often dismissed, best known for commercial overt jazz pop, where his abilities as an innovator and composer were no longer to the fore. What is sometimes forgotten, however is that before Miles became a pop star(a luxury no one could begrudge him after over three decades of sheer genius), he produced music like that found on 'Star People.'
OK, it isn't up there with his very finest records, but this was a man approaching sixty who showed he still had what it takes. It is still very much a Miles Davis album; all the music is his, even the cover artwork is his. As ever he is surrounded by upcoming young musicians, and his own playing is inventive and exuberant. He also continues with an instrumental 'double' he began in the 70s, by playing keyboards.
In some respects, this is Miles' last jazz album, and is all the more precious for that. The album's centrepiece is the title track, an extended blues jam, dominated by superb playing from Miles, backed up well by Mike Stern on guitar. 'It Gets Better' shows Miles' lyrical touch was still there, while 'Speak' and the charming 'U'n'I' in particular are incredibly catchy, although there are hints of the more pop orientated material he was soon to embrace.
Miles plays almost entirely on muted horn, as he did for much of the 80s, and the sound is a little shrill and tinny once or twice, but that is a minor point; this is a very good album. The main message is: don't dismiss Miles' 80s music until you've heard 'Star People.'