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Sumptuous Boxed Set With Style and Substance
on 29 October 2010
Well, it took a while to make it to these shores, but turns out to be well worth the wait. This is a sumptuous package, high quality, and with a host of wonderful artefacts alongside 4 discs of great material, including a host of previously unreleased music, and a high quality vinyl pressing of the original double LP.
The first two CD's consist of the original album plus two unissued takes from the sessions which were not even heard on the `Complete Bitches Brew' set of 1998. There are also four slightly less essential single edits which nevertheless round out the first two discs nicely.
It is perhaps a shame that the compilers reneged on their original plan to issue the original mix on CD rather than the 1998 remix, given that the original LP mix did appear on the `Complete Columbia Albums' box of last year, but the good news is that this mix does appear on the vinyl set included here.
There is a 3rd CD of an unissued set from Tanglewood Festival in August 1970, a 45-minute blast which really demonstrates the deep groove and overwhelming power which had developed in Miles' music over the year since `Bitches Brew' was recorded. There are enough differences here even between this set and the Isle Of Wight concert from the same month already heard and seen on the `A Different Kind Of Blue' DVD. The Tanglewood show is exclusive to this edition, and is very much worth having. It seemed like the musicians would change the music in some way almost on a weekly basis, and the recording quality is out of this world, presumably mixed from multitracks in the Bill Graham archive. It easily takes it's place alongside the sevral classic 1970 sets already issued. (It is of course possible Columbia will release this separately at a later date, but you pays your money and takes your chances, this is unreservedly a superb performance).
Add to this a fourth disc of a complete set on DVD from a year earlier on Danish TV and you have an excellently compiled collection with much to recommend it. The music on the DVD is more searching, more avant-garde than the monstrous funk of a year later, features Wayne Shorter and Chick Corea, and is a great quality colour transfer from the original TV tape with fully restored sound.
So...worthwhile buying for the audio visual content alone, where this set really kicks it in the clutch is the amazing packaging. As you unwrap the treasures within you really will gasp at the effort which has gone into this deluxe edition.
There is a stunning 12" x 12" 50 page fully illustrated book the cover of which is further unseen artwork by the original cover artist, the full size LP replica itself and another LP jacket featuring another stunning cover which houses the three compact discs/DVD. As if that wasn't enough, there is also a large square envelope containing a huge poster, contact sheet and print, tickets, a Rolling Stone article and even a copy of the memo sent by producer Teo Macero to the company asking if they're OK with Miles wanting to call the album `Bitches Brew` !
This is truly a treasure trove for the Miles fan, and genuinely does represent value for money even at £50. I couldn't wait until Christmas, but I'm sure there will be many who will be unwrapping this amazing set on the day.