- Audio CD (2 Mar. 2009)
- Number of Discs: 2
- Label: Import
- ASIN: B000026463
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 55,159 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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The revolution was recorded: in 1969 Bitches Brew sent a shiver through a country already quaking. It was a recording whose very sound, production methods, album-cover art, and two-LP length all signaled that jazz could never be the same. Over three days anger, confusion and exhilaration had reigned in the studio, and the sonic themes, scraps, grooves, and sheer will and emotion that resulted were percolated and edited into an astonishingly organic work. This Miles Davis wasn't merely presenting a simple hybrid like jazz-rock, but a new way of thinking about improvisation and the studio. And with this reissue (actually, this set is a reissue of the original set plus one track, perfect for the fan who's not so overwhelmed as to need the four-CD Complete Bitches Brew box), the murk of the original recording is lifted. The instruments newly defined and brightened, the dark energy of the original comes through as if it were all fresh. Joe Zawinul and Bennie Maupin's roles in the mix have been especially clarified. With a bonus track of "Feio"--a Wayne Shorter composition recorded five months later that serves both as a warm-down for Bitches Brew and a promise of Weather Report to come--this is crucial listening. --John F. Szwed
Top customer reviews
The mastering is a different question.
This pre-1996 CD issue is currently the only way to get the original 1970 LP mix of Bitches Brew on CD outside of an obscure Japanese release from 1996.
All of the American/European remasters from 1996 onwards use a remix which required the addition of a modern digital echo effect to Miles' trumpet to replicate the original analogue echo effect.
Due to the inherent constraints of digital replication this means the trumpet echo on the remix is slightly mistimed. If you've never heard the album before it won't sound wrong, but if you were a fan of Bitches Brew on vinyl or cassette you'll probably notice it quite clearly.
So if you want to hear Bitches Brew with the original mix and correct analog effects (as it was originally released) this early CD issue is your only easy to acquire option.
But. There is a downside. Something happened during the mastering stage of this first CD release which left the end product sounding quite muffled and very boomy in the bass department.
If you can pick this CD up for a couple of quid its worth it to have the original mix. But if you want the original mix on CD with vastly superior sound quality, you'll have to seek out the 1996 Japanese Mastersound CD, catalogue number SRCCS 9118-9 (in a mini-LP sleeve).
I can see the merits of it. It's a grand experiment, pushing the boundaries of music. Such things are to be lauded and encouraged. And while it does really push the boundaries in its attempts to merge rock and jazz, the end result is not an enjoyable listen.
And it is that aspect that is important for me. No matter how grand the vision, how deep the ideas, how boundary pushing the enterprise, music has to be enjoyable for me to listen to it, otherwise I see no point whatsoever. Dissonance and jarring rhythmic devices can work in jazz, look at the work of Charlie Mingus for example, but here Davis uses it too much and creates pieces that too jarring, too uncomfortable on the ear, and seemingly too introspective an noodly. It's the bridge between jazz and prog rock (a genre I tend to have little time for, for much the same reasons), coming at it from a jazz god's perspective.
Compared to In a Silent Way, Davis' 1969 album that started explicitly to explore the jazz rock fusion that finds its apotheosis here, this is a harsh and grating listen with no real joy. The aforementioned is full of sweet, melodic work that draws you in and is a thing of beauty. Bitches Brew is too harsh too often and I cannot hear the beauty or get any enjoyment from it. It's hard work to listen to, and music should not be hard work for the audience.
Three stars for this. I laud what Davis was trying to do and admire the majesty of the failure. But at the end of the day it's an album I personally dislike, and I think it fares poorly when compared to some truly classic previous albums such as In a Silent Way, ESP, Kind Of Blue, Milestones or Birth Of The Cool.
This release is a bit of a rarity. The album was remastered and remixed in 1996, this is the original mix that you would have heard on vinyl. I am more familiar with the post '96 version, and have to say I much prefer it as it is much clearer and brighter. This is a bit muffled and boomy. So three stars in total.