Top critical review
4 people found this helpful
I am obviously missing something
on 20 April 2016
I am obviously missing something with this album. Over the years, I must have heard it ten, twenty, maybe more times than that. "It's Miles Davis' best album!" people tell me. I just don't get it! If you know the music, this package is great, go ahead and buy it. If you don't read on...
I have no idea how this music was made, but if I was set about making something similar, this is what I would do.
First take some brilliant musicians. You need quite a number of them. I think there are 3 keyboard players and two drummers. There are certainly two bass players and there's trumpet, saxophone and bass clarinet. Next take some LSD. Or at least, give it to the musicians. Next take some superglue and slightly mess up their instruments. Stick some keys down. Make them awkward to play. Finally seal each player inside a sound proof box so that they only have muffled vibrations to tell them what the others are playing.Now you are ready to record Pharaoh's Dance.
Ask they players to improvise a creepy atmosphere and then try to build it up into a groove.
What happens on the real Pharaoh's Dance is that it takes about 4 and half minutes before they manage to get some kind of rhythm going but, what with the sound-proofing and they instruments being all jammed up, they've lost it again by 7 minutes. They find another little thing about 9 minutes in but it lasts even less long. This goes on quite painfully till 18 minutes, at which point, the producer seems to have removed the sound proof boxes and the band manages to break into a tune. Then he hits the faders.
For Bitches Brew, the recipe seems somewhat simpler. Using the same jam session, wait until the band are really cooking and somebody has started to solo. The other players are all biding their time, filling in with plinks and plonks and the occasional little fill on bass or drums. Make sure this really cooking solo goes on for 20 minutes. Then destroy the track with the solo on it and release the backing tracks. It's a kind of negative print of a track. Interesting in a way, but you'll never get those twenty minutes back.
Spanish Key is actually quite a good track but it's never allowed to settle down and switches and changes slightly too much to be really kicking. Only Miles Runs the Voodoo Down (which is as good as anything miles ever recorded) really hits you at first listening.
As I say, I am probably missing something but if you want to know why people dig Miles' electric period, I wouldn't go here first. Try Tribute to Jack Johnson, On the Corner or Disc 1 of Live Evil for the real heavy s*** and then go onto early Miles (Kind of Blue, Sketches of Spain, Filles de Kilimanjaro) to get the jazzier side of things. After that, it may be worth trying to suss out this enigma. I'll certainly give it another 20 or so tries.