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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 10 April 2016
If, like me, you're only just getting around to Miles Davis, this is quite a good place to start. By the late sixties, Miles had already gained a reputation as a musical front-runner and arguably the most technically accomplished trumpeter who ever blew a horn. Records such as Kind of Blue had put him at the very top of his profession. If money and fame had been his motives, he would have stuck to the formula and kept on producing cool and lyrical versions of old jazz standards. Instead, he dumped his band, electrified and started making an African influenced version of progressive rock.
This body of work, produced between 1969 and 1975, is what makes Miles Davis stand out from the crowd and Tribute to Jack Johnson is one of the stand out discs of the period.
Side 1 is a clanging, guitar-based strut with a Rolling Stones sized helping of attitude and the political anger of an early Clash 7 inch.
Side 2 is a soul lament which could make a battle-hardened guerrilla cry.
The problem, if problem there be, is in the length of the pieces. Unlike the longer recordings of near contemporaries such as Pink Floyd or Van den Graaf Generator, these are not carefully worked out "rock symphonies" with a beginning, a middle and an end. They are improvised jams, somewhat crudely edited and spliced together to create a rough semblance of a story. Every second is fabulous, but they end without resolution.
I am, however being deliberately over critical because a part of the power of the thing is in the way side 2 resolves side one and is itself resolved by the spoken word. Also, music lovers who are familiar with the work of bands such as Fast and Can (amongst others) will be familiar with the method of working.
I am giving it 4 stars at the moment only because I think I have heard pieces by Miles which were even crazier and more mind blowing. But to be fair, I have listened to it only twice. Finally: the basslines, man!
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on 29 December 2005
The Penguin Guide To Jazz says that in 50 years time this album will be seen in the same or an even greater light than Bitches Brew. And I cannot disagree. Blistering playing from McLaughlin and Hancock and full on amplified Miles trumpet make the opening track (20 odd minutes from memory) a blast.
This is probably a rock album played by jazz musicians but even coming from the era when most of the great rock was produced this is right up there. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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on 23 November 2006
This is basically a 60 min jam. There isnt too much too it, but there is some really great playing, not least by McLaughlin. It's a worthy addition to any Miles collection....rock on fellas!!!
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on 13 February 2014
This is in my apionion better than bitches brew and in a silent way .... This is a brilliant album with a great playing from all . The first half of the album is very exciting the second half is a more dreamy sound ! If you like miles and his fusion period and haven't gotthis ...then do so, you won't regret it !
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on 13 May 2009
This album is very raw and emotive, with all of the players sacrificing their obvious technical prowess in favour of visceral outpourings which reflect the content of the film (probably, I haven't seen it)
If you like guitar it's a great opportunity to hear John Mclaughlin in a formative period playing with real abandon.
Brilliant! Full of energy.
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on 6 March 2013
chromalloy sans vibralitic truss whistle et osteospan. Glockpanel opt alamach tu blottick apt relavoke dis woparost. Tu varstow im placket,
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on 8 May 2013
You will hear more of a Rock vibe on "Jack Johnson" than any other Miles album....I really think this is the sort of stuff he would have done with Hendrix had he lived. Miles plays harder and louder than ever before. Excellent album and probably Miles Davis last truely "great" record. MUST BE PLAYED LOUD to feel the full force.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 17 February 2013
The first paragraph in the booklet notes to this welcome reissue of the original album are by Miles himself, in a characteristically staccato `street` piece about the boxer of the title. Miles starts so:

Can you get to that? And of course being born Black in America...we all know how that goes. The day before Johnson defended the title against Jim Flynn (1912) he received a note "Lie down tomorrow or we string you up - Ku Klux Klan." Dig that!

But Johnson wasn`t to be cowed, as Miles goes on to tell us...
He tells us a lot more in the 52 minues of often exhilarating music on this 1971 release, with Herbie Hancock, John Mclaughlin, Steve Grossman, Billy Cobham and Michael Henderson along for the two long bouts.
The first track - or Side One as was - is called Right Off, and begins the fight in pugnacious style, Miles soon jabbing and ducking like the old pro he by then was.
The music hurtles along. Best Played Loud, if you ask me.
"Side Two" is a slower, slightly less cohesive piece of similar length called Yesternow, which seldom really takes flight. I can`t help wishing for a few longer passages of sustained playing from Miles, which begins to happen towards the end, when matters hot up and sweat can be seen on the contender`s brow. And then - after an echoing, ruminative coda during which we briefly hear Jack himself, his words spoken proudly by actor Brock Peters - it`s all over.
Not the greatest match these men have been involved with, but one you wouldn`t want to have missed, and one which I`m very happy to replay every now and then.
In the right mood, it packs quite a punch.
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on 14 March 2013
Miles Davis attempts a 70's style rock album, ala Peter Green & Ten Years after.
Comprising of two tracks, but broken into various sections & moods.

1."Right Off"
Starting at quite a fast pace, with great interaction & call n' answer between the Guitar & trumpet. Moving onto a more sombre section with a drone effect, then a bass/trumpet jam with the keyboards arriving towards the end. Next is a funky guitar section with Davis showing us his Sly influence, finishing off with a nice guitar/keyboard interplay.

Starting with a much slowly pace, not too dissimilar to "Bitches Brew", & a little bit of stylings of Alice Cooper! Then Davis speeds the pace up, introducing the keyboards. Next we hear a kind of film noir, which acts like an interlude before the final act. Which is then followed by repetitive funky guitar, with Miles coming in & out with his trumpet.
Finishing off with a short filmic score to complete a quite astounding record.

It is interesting that even though this is a Miles Davis album, the trumpet is not the most prominent instrument on the record, with Davis giving the rest of the musicians a chance to breathe & do their own thing. It's not a million miles from when The Who Improvised at The Isle of White, or Zeppelin at Long Beach.
Being a big rock music fan, I sometimes feel a little frustrated at how unwilling a lot of the acts in this genre are unwilling to experiment, so this record is a absolute god sent, & demonstrates if you're willing to take a creative risk, the rewards are amazing.
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on 31 March 2016
kicks jazz funkin' a**. listen to this now.
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