Of all Buddy Miles' albums (see my other review on the Best of Buddy Miles for details) this is perhaps his most consistent, at a touch. It features stellar performances from Miles' band, and also some of his best tunes, but not all. A good place to start if you don't own any Miles albums, and definitely first choice over the disappointing Best of. The main drawback with this album is that it may very well leave you hungry for more, and until his other albums of this period are re-issued, the Best of is the only place to go next. Fans of funk, funkrock and soul will find heaps of enjoyment in this disc. A sadly, criminally under-rated artist whose only claim to fame seems to be that he was Hendrix's drummer in the short lived Band of Gypsies. This album proves beyond any doubt that he is much more than that.
Working in a secondhand record shop in Central London you come across Soul and Funk LP rarities that have acquired an almost legendary status across the years - and "Them Changes" is one of them. US originals regularly cross the counter for £20+ while British copies are even harder to find. I mention this because Buddy Miles' third album is one of those semi-unknown nuggets that's worth the wonga and 'so' deserves a bigger audience on CD...
In fact checking on his catalogue for this review - I find that only 2 of his 6 albums on Mercury are available on CD anywhere in the world - a very pricey and now deleted Hip-O Select issue of "Expressway To Your Skull" (his US debut LP from 1968 produced by Jimi Hendrix) and this. Fans of Funk-Soul will also notice that of the 15 CD reissues in this 2003 series - most are now deleted and have garnished ludicrous price tags (ranging from £40 to as high as £90) - except this - which is still available at a paltry fiver.
1. Them Changes
2. I Still Love You, Anyway
3. Heart's Delight
5. Down By The River
6. Memphis Train
7. Paul B. Allen, Omaha, Nebraska
8. Your Feeling Is Mine
The vinyl LP was originally issued June 1970 in the USA on Mercury SR-61280 and October 1970 on Mercury 6338 016 in the UK (see Discography below). This "ORIGINAL FUNK LP SERIES" CD reissue reproduces the American gatefold sleeve artwork in its card digipak (inside and out) and provides an 8-page booklet too. Page 2 gives you a readable repro of the album credits in full and there's also a very knowledgeable and concise essay on the album by noted Soul writer DEAN RUDLAND. This May 2003 CD on Universal/Miracle Records 063 693-2 is a straightforward 8-track reissue of that 1970 LP (33:46 minutes).
ROBIN McBRIDE and BUDDY MILES produced seven of its eight tracks - the exception being "Memphis Train" - which is produced by STEVE CROPPER of Booker T. & The M.G.'s. The album was mixed by top engineer BRUCE SWEDIEN who later worked with a number of Brunswick label artists (The Chi-Lites etc) and features on Michael Jackson's "Off The Wall" and "Thriller". Other notable musicians are CHARLIE KARP and JIM McCARTY on Lead Guitar, ANDRE LEWIS on Keyboards and LEE ALLEN on Trumpet. Miles was of course the drummer with American Rock-Fusion band THE ELECTRIC FLAG and part-time participant of Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys. As well as drumming he provides lead vocals on every track.
Three songs are BM originals "Them Changes", "Heart's Delight" and a co-write with Andre Lewis on "Paul B. Allen, Omaha, Nebraska" while the lovely "I Still Love You, Anyway" is written by band guitarist Charlie Karp. His cover versions are masterfully chosen and arguably the highlights of the album - a fantastically funky reinterpretation of "Dreams" by The Allman Brothers (lyrics above), "Memphis Train" by Rufus Thomas, "Your Feeling Is Mine" by Otis Redding and a truly brilliant and soulful version of "Down By The River" from Neil Young that never ceases to bring customers to the counter asking "Who is this!"
Like The Undisputed Truth CD in this series "Face To Face With The Truth" (see separate review) - it doesn't say who remastered the tapes or where it was done - but the sound is clear and funky (if not a little hissy in places) - and 'pre-production' appears to have something to do with 'Miracle Records' via Universal UMG out of Europe.
I love this album and recommend this CD version of it wholeheartedly.
If you want to get a lay of the land - try the opening 20 seconds of "Down By The River" - that should get you Buddy-hooked immediately...
PS: A Buddy Miles LP Discography (1968 to 1972):
1. Expressway To Your Skull (January 1969 (1968 USA) UK LP on Mercury 20137 SMCL) - USA Hip-O Select CD only, Gatefold Card Repro Sleeve, No'd to 5000.
2. Electric Church (October 1969 UK LP on Mercury 20163 SMCL)
3. Them Changes (October 1970 UK LP on Mercury 6338 016) - REVIEWED ABOVE
4. We Got To Live Together (January 1971 UK LP on Mercury 6338 028)
5. A Message To The People (June 1971 UK LP on Mercury 6338 048)
6. Live (February 1972 UK 2LP set on Mercury 6641 033)
[NOTE: 1 and 2 credited to BUDDY MILES EXPRESS, the others to BUDDY MILES. As of December 2014 - 2, 4, 5 and 6 are NOT ON CD]
PPS: If you want a pictorial of the "Original FUNK LP Series" - I've tagged all 15 - click the tag link above.
Here's a printed list:
1. A Tear To A Smile - ROY AYERS UBIQUITY
(1975 US LP on Polydor, CD reissue is 065 620-2)
2. Propositions - BAR-KAYS
(1982 USA LP on Mercury, CD reissue is 822 885-2)
3. Summertime Groove - BOHANNON
(1978 USA LP on Mercury, CD reissue is 077 014-2)
4. Ugly Ego - CAMEO
(1978 USA LP On Chocolate City, CD reissue is 077 251-2)
5. Con Funk Shun 7 - CON FUNK SHUN
(1981 USA LP on Mercury, CD reissue is 063 699-2)
6. Nice And Soulful - CAROLINE CRAWFORD
(1979 USA LP on Mercury, CD reissue is 067 517-2)
7. The Gap Band - THE GAP BAND
(1979 USA LP on Mercury, CD reissue is 063 698-2)
8. Something Special - KOOL and THE GANG
(1981 LP on De-Lite, CD reissue is 063 695-2)
9. In Heat - LOVE UNLIMITED
(1974 LP on 20th Century, CD reissue is 063 625-2)
10. Just Outside Of Town - MANDRILL
(1973 LP on Polydor, CD reissue is 065 619-2)
11. Them Changes - BUDDY MILES [Drummer with The Electric Flag]
(1970 LP on Mercury, CD reissue is 063 693-2)
12. One Way featuring Al Hudson - ONE WAY featuring AL HUDSON
(1979 LP on MCA, CD reissue is 113 201-2)
13. What Am I Gonna Do - GLORIA SCOTT [Barry White production]
(1974 USA LP on Casablanca, CD reissue is 063 694-2)
14. Moving South - SOUTHSIDE MOVEMENT
(1975 USA LP on 20th Century, CD reissue is 063 691-2)
15. Face To Face With The Truth - THE UNDISPUTED TRUTH
(1972 LP on Gordy & Tamla Motown, CD reissue is 067 100-2) [see REVIEW]