Miles Davis

I don't understand jazz really at all
*special introductory paragraph!
*Birth Of The Cool
*The Complete Birth Of The Cool
*Dig
*Miles Davis And Horns
*Blue Haze
*Walkin'
*Bags' Groove
*Miles Davis And The Modern Jazz Giants
*The Musings Of Miles
*Blue Moods
*Quintet/Sextet (with Milt Jackson)
*Miles: The New Miles Davis Quintet
*Collectors' Items
*Workin'
*Steamin'
*Relaxin'
*Cookin'
*'Round About Midnight
*Miles Ahead
*Ascenseur Pour L'echafaud
*Milestones
*Miles 1958
*Porgy And Bess
*Kind Of Blue
*Sketches Of Spain
*Someday My Prince Will Come
*Quiet Nights
*Seven Steps To Heaven
*My Funny Valentine
*E.S.P.
*Miles Smiles
*Sorcerer
*Nefertiti
*Miles In The Sky
*Filles de Kilimanjaro
*Water Babies
*In A Silent Way
*Bitches Brew
*A Tribute To Jack Johnson
*At Fillmore: Live At The Fillmore East
*Live-Evil
*On The Corner
*Big Fun
*Get Up With It
*Dark Magus: Live At Carnegie Hall
*Agharta
*Pangaea
*The Man With The Horn
*Star People
*Decoy
*You're Under Arrest
*Aura
*Tutu
*Music From Siesta
*Amandla
*Dingo (with Michel LeGrand)
*Doo-Bop
*Panthalassa: The Music Of Miles Davis 1969-1974 (reconstructed by Bill Laswell)

Oh it's true. I'm a rock music fan. I don't get jazz. I don't understand what they're doing or why it's interesting. I can get into the slippery groove for a few minutes, but then quickly lose my way in all the improvisations, solos and such. Plus there's not enough really loud guitars. I've tried though. I've got some John Coltrane, some Eric Dolphy, a little Herbie Mann, some Thelonius Monk, a bit of Ornette Coleman, a smidge of Cannonball Adderly, a dollop of Dave Brubeck - and WAY too many Miles Davis records. All for your pleasure! Having played and recorded from 1946 pretty darn regularly until his death in 1991, trumpet player/bandleader Miles Davis has an infinite number of albums, the entirety of which I have no intention of ever purchasing. However, my particular collection hits on what I'm told are the pinnacles of his career - his "bop," his early quintet "cool jazz" days, his orchestral work, his modal stuff, his fusion experiments and most importantly his Cyndi Lauper cover. So read on to see what a guy who doesn't know or care much at all about jazz has to say about one of the most famous jazz musicians of all time! With no further adoodoo, Mild David!


Birth Of The Cool - Capitol 1989.
Rating = 5

Lots of tootin'! This was recorded in 1948 and I suppose is what you'd call "Cool Jazz." All the tunes are mellow, with none of those loud trumpet blasts that make me hate horns so much. The musicians sound exceptionally well practiced, with nine different fellows playing the same melodies together until one of them gets his chance to solo, then they hop back in to the main riff. Some of these jazz melodies are really nice and catchy - not to mention COMPLICATED AS HELL (I'm particularly fond of the upbeat shindig "Move," the beautiful, slow "Moon Dreams," plus "Deception" and "Rocker," though I've forgotten what they sound like at the moment), but too much of this is just... I don't know. I don't want to throw the term "elevator music" around, but this crap is WAY before my time - way before even the advent of my beloved rock and roll. It's not that I hate the style. The style itself lends itself to some incredibly listenable, calming music. Everybody uses lots of mutes and nobody tries to blast your head off. So the style is fine. It's the actual songs that seem lacking to me. First of all, I have no interest in hearing people solo. I realize that it's a main component of jazz music (and even rock), but it's just not what I'm into. I prefer the parts where they do all kinds of complex stuff together. And there IS a lot of that on here. But not enough. Too many of the songs just don't DO IT. Tunes like "Venus De Milo," "Israel" and "Rouge" just don't seem to have any GrOuNdInG or HOOK to them. Nothing interesting to grab and squeeze. Maybe old people can dig it. I could see using it as background music, but not listening all that often. I guess that's what happens when you don't like jazz!

Great damn production though, for how old it is! Everything's clear as a window pane!

Reader Comments

Colin T.
look: you don't have to "understand jazz" in order to get it. it's just music. don't you like music? for all the outrageous celebration mark does about how you really have to sit down and listen to the thinking fellers in order to understand it, one would think that he'd listen to his own advice. clearly, he hasn't.

this is real music (and i'm referring not only to this one album), effective, energetic, magical........ it does what all good music does: gets all up in you like a motherfucker just to dance dance dance.

ahmz5000@hotmail.com (Adam)
if you are looking for a nice melody with some interplay, try listening to boplicity again. if that doesnt do it for you, i dont know what will.

johnnyalpha01@yahoo.co.uk
I've been listening to John Coltrane today. I downloaded 'A Love Supreme', but I figure he doesn't need the money any more. After about two minutes, it hit me what I hate about jazz, aside from the sneery superior types who hold this music in such high esteem. It's just all wrong. The saxophone is way, way too loud. It hits notes that makes the synovial fluid rush to the base of my neck and sit there, twanking on my nerves until I just HAVE to turn it off. And it's not that I can't take extreme or avant-garde music. I've got everything Glenn Branca put out, though I don't have to prove my credentials. It's just all wrong. Any music where you place one instrument much higher than the rest is going to suck. Whenever my band get a soundboard mix through the PA, there's no snare 'cos our drummer hits too hard and my voice is always much too high over the top and it sounds DREADFUL. Jazz - it does have some cookin' interplay, moments where you think - "wow, a rock band would never do that" - but it's largely drowned out by my quick dash for the volume control, followed by 'stop'. And the WORST thing is, jazzbos convince you that this is the source, this is the real deal and the largely white indie-rock I like is just fake shit. Well fuck that.

ddickso2@uccs.edu
Eh, I'm going to have to slightly agree with Mark on this one, but for opposite reasons. These songs, to me, seem pretty much all catchy in a "jazzbo" kind of way. Very little soloing, everyone tight as a Cannonball Adderley drum. However, it kind of goes right through one's brain like a Maroon 5 tune. All fun and games, no resonance. Light as a feather, in other words. That "Darn That Dream" sub-Sinatra shit at the end only reinforces that impression. I give it a low 7 for sheer listenability. As far as "Love Supreme" goes, in reference to the commenter above, though, I must disagree. True, "Supreme"'s not nearly as perfect as it's made out to be--it's less than half an hour long, for Chrissakes. I think, however, the lack of any other instrument than the sax gives it focus and keeps it from sounding boring and generic. At least you've only got ONE asshole musically masturbating for twenty-eight minutes, as opposed to six. (Speaking of which, "Blue Train"--now THAT'S an overrated Trane album. Whoever said its high sales proved its lasting quality must be strapped to a chair and forced to listen to Guns 'n Roses' debut for the rest of time. THAT'll teach 'em.)

Add your thoughts?


The Complete Birth Of The Cool - Capitol 1998.
Rating = 5

This CD compiles that last album I reviewed, plus a bunch of live versions of the material. Pleasant enough background music, but soloing out the ass. Literally! BRAP!

You know what? I was very tolerant about 20 seconds ago, but it's time to come clean about something: Everybody who likes jazz is stupid. Yes, if it's a rainy day and you need something smooth and inoffensive playing in the background, it totally does the trick. But if you sit there and devote all your attention to it, the music is just boring. All the songs start off really cool, then devolve into ridiculously unmusical, uninteresting jerking off before the band finally returns to the really good, complex part that you wished hadn't gone away for two and a half minutes so Junior Collins could show off how many disconnected notes he could blow out of that stupid metal toilet pipe thing he calls an instrument.

I suppose jazz really isn't that bad, but it'd be better if they got rid of all those horns and replaced the piano with a bunch of really loud guitars and had a guy screaming and a drummer playing ninety miles an hour and had a big fancy lightshow and a flaming pentagram and a dead person bleeding all over the place.

Speaking of great music, have you heard that Mark Prindle CD Nature's Smelly Ass? Now that's jazz. Who needs Gerry Mulligan and Lee Konitz when you've got the sensuous sounds of America's Sweetheart glued to the stereo of your sex organ?

Add your thoughts?


Dig - Prestige 1951
Rating = 2

2005 - Hi everybody. If you're a longtime visitor to www.markprindle.com/davis.htm#diggin, you may recall that in early 2001, I jokingly posted a page of basically honest but purposely over-the-toppingly insulting reviews of about 20 Miles Davis albums. It quickly became one of the most controversial things I'd ever done, thanks to (a) people who didn't realize that my insults were a joke (the key joke being that I, the reviewer, felt that it was somehow the music's fault that I didn't like it), (b) several passages that were more offensive than witty, and (c) people who care too much about things that don't matter. I accept full responsibility for problems (a) and (b), but the people who got actively ANGRY about the reviews need to reswizzle their priorities a bit, as far as I'm concerned. "You don't have to like Miles, but you better respect him!!!" Why? Isn't it enough that he's respected by, oh, EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD WHO LIKES JAZZ? I think he'll live without mine. Or at least, he'll remain dead without it.

But that's not my point. My point is that I have recently come into possession of 16 more Miles Davis albums. I've already done the "insult" schtick, however, so I'm not going to be doing that again. Instead, I'm going to try to, as clearly as possible, explain how each album sounds and why I do or do not like it. Obviously, due to my lack of genre understanding (I took a Jazz Appreciation course in college, but all we really ever did was memorize the beginnings of songs), I'm not going to be able to describe the records in actual Jazz terms (except "groovy" and "heroin addict"). But I'll tell you what I, as a rock fan, hear when I put each record on. And I'll tell you why I do or don't (mostly don't) like it. And then I'll toss in a few light-hearted insults for old time's nostalgia.

However, something interesting has happened to me over the past four years. Something that surprised even I, Mark Prindle, who share a brain and several lungs with the proprietor of this fine site. You ready for it? You might want to stand down.

As it turns out, I have even less tolerance for jazz now than I did when I wrote the original blasphemous reviews. So what I've decided to do is preface each of the new reviews with the year "2005." That way, you don't have to wonder why I would give, say, a 5 to Steamin' but only a 3 to Workin'. It has nothing to do with relative quality - it has to do with me no longer having any patience at all for jerks who bleat out a bunch of boring horn notes over a tepid 12-bar blues. If you see a new 2, read the description and you might be surprised to see that my opinion reads awfully similar to an old 5. That's just personal growth. Or lack of, one of the two. However, please rest assured that all grades higher than a 6 remain accurate. If I found something to be quite good in my youth, I continue to do so today. And any 2005 grades represent how I feel right now and for the rest of my life since people don't change once they hit 30.

But I'll tell you one thing -- I'm no longer ashamed of my inability to "get into" jazz. I'm old enough now to realize that the problem is not the fact that I don't play any brass instruments, nor that I grew up surrounded by the sounds of rock and roll -- the reason that I dislike this music so much is because of all the soloing. To me, sitting down and listening to some asshole bleat, blat and bloop 4000 notes in no particular order on top of mediocre jazz chord sequences is no more a sign of 'cultured taste' than listening to a Joe Satriani album. Both styles of music are completely self-indulgent, violate nearly every rule of musical composition that I respect, and bore the living loving maid out of me. Does this then exclude ALL jazz from my taste cabinet? Actually, no. I really like interesting instrumental interplay, and I don't even mind a guy soloing as long as the other band members are playing a neat, hypnotic chord sequence. It's just the basic endless improvisation over blah music that makes me scream in violent impatience and sassiness.

Like, say, THIS ALBUM. Featuring Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Jackie McLean and Walter Bishop, Jr., it's a collection of very long hard bop songs, most of which begin life as a 12-second groovy riff and then immediately deteriorate into a series of showing-off sessions. Although there are seven different titles listed on the CD case, there are really only two different songs -- the slow one and the fast one. And the really neat thing is: I don't like either one of them!

As such, you'd think that I'd give the album a 1 out of 10. I actually considered doing so for several tentative hours, but changed my mind for one reason: this collection of Davis-penned horseshit (and "It's Only A Paper Moon") makes GREAT background music. It sounds like air! You don't notice it's there at all; you just know that your apartment suddenly FEELS cool for some reason. It's not until you devote 100% of your attention to the music that you realize it's a bunch of worthless throwaway crap. Let's put it this way -- which would you rather listen to: (a) a hilarious comedian with a finely-honed act who makes you laugh with every single pre-planned joke and nuance? Or (b) Robin Williams? See, as far as I'm concerned, Dig is as intellectually exciting and aurally stimulating as Reality...What A Concept. I know I'm supposed to "appreciate" it, but it just makes me want to scream, "DO SOMETHING INTERESTING OR SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!"

Also, Miles Davis smothered poop in his hair to attract stray animals to sodomize, a hobby I disagree with.

Add your thoughts?


Miles Davis And Horns - Prestige 1955
Rating = 3

2011 - It has now been a full decade since I posted my original, highly valued Miles Davis review page on the Internet -- and five years since I last put pen to screen to get ink all over my screen. In this time, I have learned a lot, grown a plenty, lost a wife, gained a girlfriend, drank 5,000,000 gallons of vodka, stopped drinking even a sip of vodka and, most importantly, nurtured an honest and unexpectedly deep respect for Miles Davis as a man and musical pioneer.

But first a little joke: What's the difference between a redneck with a cellphone and a 165-pound bag of shit? One DIALS MAVIS, and the other is M

Actually, if I can be serious for a moment -- about ten minutes ago, as I was preparing to review Miles Davis And Horns, I heard a loud and persistent hacking noise coming from my bedroom. Turning to investigate, I saw that Henry The Dog had vomited a chunky, malodorous soup-like substance all over the bed. And I thought to myself, "My, how my two worlds have collided."

As one of my BFBFFs (Best FaceBook Friends Forever) recently noted in reference to this title, "Is there a Miles Davis album WITHOUT horns!?" Presumably the Album Titler was referring to trombonist Bernie Green and tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins (who appear on five of these tracks), as well as trombonist Sonny Truitt and tenor saxophonists Zoot Sims and Al Cohn (who appear on the other four). Either that he was acknowledging that Miles Davis is the Devil.

The next time the kids ask you to take them on a vacation, put this record on the Turn-Go-Round and say, "Pack your bags! We're taking a trip to Bland Solo City!" Say! That reminds me of a great joke:

What's the difference between Star Wars and this album?
Star Wars had HAN SOLO and this album, no hang on you'll love this

Five of these songs of bitches were recorded on January 17th, 1951. These are lo-fi and far too devoted to soloing to hold my interest much past the opening riffs. See, this is what bores the pantsuit off of me about Cool Jazz and Bop: I understand that it must've been terribly exciting for these musicians to remove the shackles of pro-written melody and just go wild with their note-happy finger talents, but my musical brain finds nothing of interest in a bunch of random notes blurting all over the place for minutes at a stretch. Sure, I'm impressed that these guys can solo over multiple chord changes without ever hitting a wrong note, but how many goddamned variations on this schtick am I expected to sit through without longing for a motherfucking MELODY to happen along? Some have told me, "When they solo, it's like they're telling a story," but how good a story is it going to be if they only have 12 notes to work with? Am I likewise supposed to be spellbound by a story with only twelve different words!? Here, let's see:

A man walked outside, saw a dog, saw another man and laughed heartily at the sun. Another man walked a dog and laughed. Heartily, the dog saw the sun and walked at another man. The sun laughed heartily. Another man walked outside and laughed at the saw. The saw walked at the sun. Heartily, the saw saw another sun outside the dog. A man and another man laughed outside at the sun dog. The sun heartily laughed at a man and saw another dog. A saw outside walked a man.

There! Did you enjoy my solo?

The other four songs of bitches were recorded on February 19th, 1953 under much stronger recording conditions. These tracks, all credited to Al Cohn, are actually pretty groovy! Between the Sneaky Pete horns of "Tasty Pudding," the festive dance mood of "Willie the Wailer," and the speedy, sprightly "Floppy," you'd have the makings of a pretty good record if you'd cram all the solos up your ass.

Low points include two takes of Rodgers & Hart's schmaltzy "The Blue Room," which sounds identical to Cream's "White Room" but with all the notes replaced by ones that suck.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Hay Jurk, you obviously don't like this kind of music: why did you bother returning to the till for a third time!?" The answer is simple: (a) I discovered that my page lacked reviews of only 21 Miles Davis studio albums, and (b) I would never, ever illegally download music because it's illegal. So thank God I woke up one day and all 21 of those albums had miraculously appeared on my hard drive.

Reader Comments

Mark
Dear Mr. Prindle:

I appreciate your irreverant and often accurate critiques of the excesses of jazz. I do love jazz when it's performed with balanced egos and a balanced mix. I'm glad to read to that you gave praise to the Laswell reconstructions of Miles, as I think he managed to improve vastly upon the original versions.

However, I must question this point: "Am I likewise supposed to be spellbound by a story with only twelve different words!?"

As you know, most Western music - including rock - based on the 12 tones of the diatonic scale. So why wouldn't this same criticism be equally damning of all this music, not only jazz?

One could offer other equally valid metaphors, also. Why not consider the 12 tones as letters of an alphabet, from which one can generate an infinity of words and sentences? Extend this to the other octaves, and there are at least 88 such letters on a piano keyboard. Include note length, accent, dynamics, pitch bending, etc., and the language becomes even more complex and varied.

Add your thoughts?


Blue Haze - Prestige 1954
Rating = 1

2011 - I believe it was top-selling record producer Steve Albini who said, "Jazz serves a cultural function in the music scene. It is a signifier for musical 'adulthood'. To embrace jazz is to don a kind of graduation cap, signifying a broadening of tastes outside 'mere' rock music. This ostentatious display of 'sophistication' is an insult, and I find the graduation cappers transparent and tedious. Certainly there must be interesting music one could call 'jazz'. There must be. I've never heard it, but I grant that it is out there somewhere. Jazz has a non-musical parallel: Christiania, the 'free' zone in Copenhagen. In Christiania, like in jazz, there is no law. People are left to their own inventions to create and act as they see fit. In Jazz, the musicians are allowed to improvise over and beside structural elements that may themselves be extemporaneous. Sounds good, doesn't it? Freedom — sounds good. The reality is much bleaker. Christiania is a squalid, trashy string of alleys with rag-and-bone men selling drugs, tie-dye and wretched food. Granted Total Freedom, and this is what they've chosen to do with it, sell hash and lentil soup? Jazz is similar. The results are so far beneath the conception that there is no English word for the disappointment one feels when forced to confront it. Granted Total Freedom, you've chosen to play II V I and blow a goddamn trill on the saxophone? Only by willfully ignoring its failings can one pretend to appreciate it as an idiom and don the cap."

Then again, I believe it was former Mark Prindle colleague Matt Van Ryn who said, "I know you hate improvisation, so of course you're going to hate most jazz. That's like saying I hate impressionist painting because it's spontaneous - but you would likewise probably say because it's bland and bourgeouis. But these idioms have only become that way thru time. Both were just as radical as your beloved punk rockers in their time and historical context. I think that's what you need to look at more, to come to find your own level of jazz appreciation - the history and context."

On the other hand, I believe it was comedian funnyperson Paul F. Tompkins who said, "Jazz music is all about making the common man feel dumb. It's just a bunch of dudes playing solos at the same time. It's like a genre of music that's defying you to like it. 'Badada Boodly-bip-doo-dip! Bee-dee-bwap bee-dee-bwap! Boodoo doodoo baydaywop.' It's like the record is saying, 'What's the matter, man? Don't you like our smart people's music!?"

But building on the original point, I believe it was Facebook Friend Putzy Schwanger who said, "The appeal of jazz has to do with harmonic sophistication (chords with more notes in them), rhythmic syncopation (Hey, the drummer stressed THIS beat when I thought he was going to stress that OTHER one!), the musicians’ ability to “swing” (not straight-eighth feel which is 99.9% of rock) as well as to draw spontaneously from a rich musical language to create well-structured improvisations. If these things do not interest you, you’re better off sticking to rock."

Unfortunately, I believe it was record reviewer Mark Prindle who said, "THIS ALBUM FUCKING SUCKS!!!!"

In fact, let's look at how these songs stack up to some similarly-titled hits of the day:

"I Remember You" by The Ramones - Soft and slow, but sweet!
"I'll Remember April" by Miles Davis - An old Judy Garland song. In fact, I believe it was Facebook friend Robert Harland who said, "I think the reason you dislike old jazz is that a lot of it is based around old Broadway and Tin Pan Alley songs, which give a built-in structure to the wanky improvisations. I forced myself to get used to the improv, but imagine how horrible life would be if you found jazz a breeze to get into because you had a bunch of Judy Garland songs running around your head?"

"Free Four" by Pink Floyd - Roger Waters lays on the depression as a jaunty riff taps your toe in defiance
"Four" by Miles Davis - Friendly laidback harmless predictable boring wallpaper

"Hooch" by The Melvins - Can't remember how it goes right now, but it's probably heavy, mean and awesome
"Smooch" by Miles Davis - Can't remember how it goes right now, but it probably doesn't have a melody or anything good about it at all

"Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix - A blistering acid rock classic
"Blue Haze" by Miles Davis - SO FUCKING BORING! GOD!!! JUST BRAP BRAP BRAP SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!

"When Friends Fall Out" by The Guess Who - Great Burton Cummings singalong!
"When Lights Are Low" - Most of the melody is one single note tooted over and over again. Fuck you, Benny Carter! You were a terrible president!

"I Can See For Miles" by The Who - Possibly the greatest rock recording of all time.
"Miles Ahead" by Miles Davis - Miles sticks his dick in a trumpet and wiggles it around so it goes "eee eee" against the sides.

I hate this album more than most people hate their own newborn babies. It's just a bunch of boring old toodly-doo bullshit, like you'd hear in a department store. Boring chord sequences, boring solos -- boring album!

Seriously, when the only memorable melody on your album is a cover of "Old Devil Moon," it's time to sell your horn on ebay and enroll in business school. Luckily, Miles Davis did just that, and his recording career came to a sudden, permanent halt in 1954.

Reader Comments

David Dickson
So. You decided to finish off this guy with a flourish. And did so by reviewing like a dozen albums that even I'VE never heard of and three fairly well-known ones that bore me to death. You know what your problem is? You like Miles too much, THAT'S what your problem is.

Honestly, though, I think it's time to say something that needs to be said and no one seems to be saying. (And NOT "jazz is for elitist pussies"--I am not Mr. Generic Guy today.) This is something that gets my goat, burns my canoli, GRINDS MY GEARS, and prevents (non-Prindle) rock fans from having more than a "duh-level" knowledge of any music that features soloing horns.

Miles Davis gets held up as Mr. Quintessential Jazz Man way too goddamn often. Sure, he's famous--who ISN'T famous these days? But dammit, he's just NOT THAT GREAT. He's just an intermittently pleasant, tastefully cool, occasionally-innovative-on-a-band-level, mostly boring man with like two great albums in his catalog. Neither of which are Kind of Blue, Bitches' Brew, or Birth of the Cool. There, I said it. I appreciate the existence of those albums, and that's as far as I throw them. And him. He's JUST A PLEASANTLY MEDIOCRE MAN who broke ground on a few things and whose band played the best instrumental covers around back in the mid-Fifties. Cripes, I even think his solos stink. And I'm Mr. Pretentiousness-Rules Guy!

Speaking of pretentiousness, though. That quote above from Steve Albini. . . look, God knows, we all enjoyed his production work on In Utero, and I'm sure he's fun enough to have an ascerbic, nasty, extra-bitter beer with. But that said, considering the career that quote comes from, that is about the biggest garbage I've read yet this week. Replace every reference to "jazz" and "saxophones" in it with "my own boring shit music", (or better yet, "Fugazi both before and after their first album") and you have my own attitude towards Steve Albini and the whole scene he came from summed up in a nutshell. Steve hates improvised horns and considers them nothing more than a badge for tools trying to make themselves part of an intellectual elite. He apparently has no sense of irony. I've been told over and over again (sometimes even by commenters on this site!) that only appreciation of three "creative" simple notes played at top screeching volume on bass and/or garagey guitar from the late Eighties topped off by someone tone-deafly talking/shouting/screeching impressionist nonsense at you is the only and true gateway to "musical sophistication". In that case, musical sophistication can jump off a cliff. Sure, rock and roll distilled according to scraggly back-alley rules has its virtues, but it, like jazz, is just one genre among many, many others. It is not the end-all and be-all of musical existence. Those who say otherwise are cracked, selling something, or Robert Christgau.

And just to show you I'm not a completely narrow-minded anti-noise pencil-necked person, I do quite enjoy D.O.A.'s debut, Something Better Change. It has good songs on it. The rest of simplistic tone-deaf noise rock in general (at least, all the albums I've listened to in order to, as they say, "expand my corporate boundaries") can go eat a dick. (With a duck.)

Now, speaking of ducks, and instruments that sound like them. I kind of disagree with the critics when they wax all orgasmic about "Round About Midnight". Not sure what they see in that song, other than its coolness and jazzy stuff. Thelonious Monk has a pretty dark-sounding original version of the song from the late-Forties--it's on his "Genius of Modern Music" thing, and it's better than the one on Miles Davis' album of the same name. Bags Groove the album--well, I agree it's not exactly a Mt. Rushmore of horn wanking, but eh, Mark, a ONE. . . eh. . . Even I would never do that to the Pixies. (Because they're just so goldarn CUTE.)

And I told you Miles Smiles was mediocre. Still, I give it a 6, not a 3. (Or a negative kazillion.)

Now if you'll excuse me, I must show off my graduation cap and make Steve Albini blithering mad. (Cause when he's mad, he's just so CUTE)

JAZZ ALBUMS WORTH A GODDAMN:

Steamin' (Miles Davis, 1956)--Marvelous! Adult! Sophisticated!! All covers!!! (Miles can't write that many good songs, see.)
Workin' (Miles Davis, 1956)--Splendid!! Magnificent!! Reminiscent of Christiania!!! (Except with good songs, some of which are original. And it was recorded on the SAME SINGLE DAY as Steamin', which, regardless of one's musical biases/demonic hatreds, is some kind of awesome.)
Mingus Ah Um (Charles Mingus, 1959)--Beauteous!! How droll!! Broadens my tastes outside "mere rock music"!!! (More to the point, it's probably the "catchiest" traditional small-group jazz album in existence--like, every song has an actual melody, as opposed to just "groovy atmosphere".)
Out There (Eric Dolphy, 1960)--Lentil soupy!! Trills on the saxophone!!! Urge Overkill isn't the worst stain on humanity!!! (That was just to piss him off; I actually don't like Urge Overkill that much.)
Free Jazz (ORNETTE COLEMAN, 1960)--(*ORGASMS, IN AN INTELLECTUAL FASHION*)!!! (Actually, I'm not sure if Mark would like this or not. It's kind of like "Bitches Brew", the song, except without bluesy guitar and squawky keyboards, and ten minutes longer. Normally, I wouldn't like it that much, but it gets all dramatic and weirdo and Eastern-like in the second half. Also, it has a transparent and tedious graduation capper, with Total Freedom, and shit.)

In addition, Smashing Pumpkins. Liz Phair.

(*giggles*)

Add your thoughts?


Walkin' - Prestige 1954
Rating = 3

2011 - On two April dates in 1954, Miley Cyrus slithered his fat ass into Rudy Van Gelder Studio Studio in Hackensack, New Jersey to record an album of hard bop with six other musicians (five in one session, four in the other) who would be named "Miles Davis All Stars" on the album cover, for some reason. These lucky men included: tenor (soprano?) saxophonist Eli "Lucky" Thompson, who not so luckily developed Alzheimers Disease and died in 2005; trombonist James Louis "J.J." Johnson (the second "J" stands for "Louis"), who developed prostate cancer before committing suicide in February 2001; bassist Percy Heath, who developed bone cancer and died in 2005; alto saxophonist Dave Schildkraut, who died of obscurity in 1998; drummer Kenny Clarke, who died of Paris in 1985; and pianist Horace Silver, who somehow evaded the "Miles Davis All Stars Curse" and lives to this very day.

The album begins with the six-piece line-up performing a thirteen-and-a-half-minute version of jazz composer Richard Carpenter's "Walkin'" that's highlighted by a cool Pink Panther-style opening followed by twelve minutes of the musicians shoving horns up each others' asses as a 12-bar blues bores the world to death in the background. Next to bat is Dizzy Gillespie's "Blue 'n' Boogie," a fast and jubilant 12-bar excretion that showcases some delightfully spirited soloing from Mr. Thompson. Track number three brings us to the five-player session and a romantic (yet peppy!) Miles Davis original called "Solar". Though it features some lovely moments, it's unfortunately still just a bunch of fucken solos -- which nonetheless elevates it above the next track, pianist Gene De Paul's boring ballad "You Don't Know What Love Is." Yeah, Gene? Well, you don't know what A DECENT SONG is. Prick. GO DIE! (In 1988)

But none of the above could possibly prepare the listener for the speedy, catchy trumpet riff that propels final track "Love Me Or Leave Me" (a Walter Donaldson composition from the 1920's play Whoopee!)! This riff single-handedly has inspired people to pick up the plastic Bb trumpet and begin playing themselves.

Unfortunately, ALL of the above could prepare the listener for the fact that 75% of the song is tuneless 'brapp-dee-dapp-dee-do.'

God I love that cartoon. "Brapp-dee-dapp-dee-do! Where are you? We've got some (and so forth)."

Oh, but don't get me STARTED on SCRAPP-dee-dapp-dee-do!

The bottom line is clear, as is the conclusion, in terms of the final word: Jazz would be bonus if it weren't for all the solos.

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Bags' Groove - Prestige 1957
Rating = 1

2011 - My girlfriend likes the vibraphone solo in the title track. You've now read every positive comment I have to make about this album.

Taking its title from the fact that only old "bags" could possibly "groove" to its safe, staid pleasantries, this album features seven tracks recorded on June 29 and December 24, 1954. World-famous tenor saxophonist and spoken word artist Henry "Sonny" Rollins appears on five of the tracks, three of which he wrote himself! And they suck!

And by "they suck," I of course mean "they're jazz"!

You know, as a fan of AC/DC, The Ramones and Motorhead, I'm no stranger to accusations of my favorite artists' albums "all sounding the same." I've no argument with this assessment; hell, I can't even tell one Motorhead album from another! But even though these blueprint-following rock artists are content to mine one stylistic shaft for decades on end, they at least make an effort to write new riffs. All of these Miles Davis albums, on the other hand, sound EXACTLY THE SAME. Every song begins with roughly 30 seconds of an actual melody, and then the solos begin. And the solos are ALWAYS boring as fucking living fucking hell. I'm not saying that every jazz solo in the world is boring (for just one example, John Coltrane kicks some ass in his "My Favorite Things" solo), but on this particular stretch of Miles Davis records (the cool/bop years), sweet Jesus America are they interchangeable. Perhaps because he was recording like 15 albums a year at this point?

Here is a precise, second-by-second rundown of the LP's seven tracks:

1. "Bags' Groove (Take 1)" - My girlfriend likes the vibraphone solo; she thinks it sounds like he's having a lot of fun. Well, of course he is. He's jurkin' off!

2. "Bags' Groove (Take 2)" - Look out, kids! This IS your father's jazz!

3. "Airegin" - The title is "Nigeria" spelled backwards! The song is "Diarrhea" played forwards!

4. "Oleo" - Like an Oreo, but with dogshit in the middle.

5. "But Not For Me (Take 2)" - A George Gershwin composition from the musical Girl Crazy. This is ironic, in that the entire reason Miles Davis took up the trumpet in the first place was to teach himself proper fellatio technique.

6. "Doxy" - I may be thinking of a different song, but I'm pretty sure this is the one with the solo.

7. "But Not For Me (Take 1)" - I like how one of the notes is repeated multiple times during each refrain, as if it's planning to break out into a pre-written melody at any moment. This never happens though.

In conclusion, if you at some point in your life suddenly become a Miles Davis fan, call 911 immediately because you have almost definitely suffered severe brain damage.

Reader Comments

Matt
First of all I'd like to offer my deepest condolences about Henry the Dog. Based on the Weekly Waggly Wphotos, it seems like he lived a very full life. I wouldn't say something that trite if my ancient dog hadn't died about a year ago, and I did take consolation in knowing he'd... lived a very full life.

I'm glad to see this page expanding, and your mention of John Coltrane on "My Favorite Things" made me wonder, have many people tried to "explain" jazz to you? One of the things for following the solos is that it's good to keep the song's melody in mind during them. The harmonies are more obvious when you've already got a rough idea about them just from knowing the tune. That might be one reason why you appreciate uber-familiar "My Favorite Things" more than bop songs, which almost always have wonky difficult melodies. I'm not saying this like to scold you, I bet if I listened to all of Miles Davis's records, my satisfaction would be similar to what you've gotten. I've just been trying to acquire a taste for jazz recently and that's one of the more useful concepts I've found.

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Miles Davis And The Modern Jazz Giants - Prestige 1958
Rating = 2

2011 -

* WANTED *
MILES DAVIS AND "THE MODERN JAZZ GIANTS"

FOR THE CRIMES OF:

* Wasting a full 40% of the album on George & Ira Gershwin's awful torch ballad "The Man I Love"

* Beginning Davis' "Swing Spring" with a nifty up & down vibraphone/trumpet melody, then wasting the next ten minutes playing random notes like (and possibly through) a bunch of assholes

* Destroying Thelonius Monk's snappy "Bemsha Swing" by repeating its hooky chord sequence over and over for ten fucken hours til you want to flush the album down the toilet like a retarded baby

* Probably finding it ironic that Thelonius Monk played on every song except "'Round Midnight," a jazz standard written by.... Thelonius Monk!

SUSPECTS ARE TO BE CONSIDERED ARMED AND DANGEROUS. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO APPREHEND.

BECAUSE THEY'LL JUST PLAY SOME SHITTY SONG AND RUN AWAY WHILE YOU'RE LOOKING FOR EARPLUGS.

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The Musings Of Miles - Prestige 1955
Rating = 3

2011 - So I was fucking your wife the other day when she suddenly turned to me and said, "My husband, whom I'm cuckolding right now, thinks that you're silly for not liking Miles Davis. Would you care to respond to these allegations?"

Thinking deeply as I wiped my goo-coated tallywhacker on your finest tie, I replied, "I just don't get any joy out of listening to solos. My mind craves either repetition or novelty, and -- although I acknowledge that Miles may have been an innovator in his day -- all I hear in his cool and bop work is a bunch of interchangeable random notes. Key-appropriate notes, yes, but not arranged into any pattern that sets off the Enjoyment Ball in my music-loving hemisphere. And believe me, I've tried to enjoy them! Many, many times."

"You don't even like The Musings of Miles?" she queried, stifling a laugh about how small your penis is.

"That one actually starts off okay," I responded, urinating in your sock drawer. "I enjoy the cool chord sequence of the speedy yet romantic 'Will You Still Be Mine?,' the gentle calming mood of 'I See Your Face Before Mine' and the cute musical joke of 'I Didn't' (the opening riff is a slight variation on Thelonius Monk's 'Well, You Needn't' -- GET IT!?). But there's just no avoiding the fact that jazz is based heavily on improvisation, so even these tracks are mostly given over to boring notes bleating like a dying musical pig."

"But what about 'A Night in Tunisia'?" your wife wondered aloud while telling your children that you're not their real father and are, in fact, impotent. "Don't you love the way Philly Joe Jones has bells nailed to his drumsticks on that one?"

"You know what? Shut up and suck on this," I responded impatiently, handing her a popsicle that you'd saved especially for yourself but will now not have the opportunity to enjoy. "'A Night in Tunisia' features one of the eeriest intros and oddest chord sequences I've ever heard in a jazz song, but just when I started thinking, 'Wow! A jazz song that doesn't suck!,' it immediately turned into standard jazz bullshit."

"Maybe the problem is that it's just Miles and a three-piece band. He doesn't have a trombonist, saxophonist or vibraphonist to interact with," your wife suggested, busily replacing your face in all the family photos with a shot of my pud.

"Even if he had other players to interact with, he wouldn't. He just likes to go brappity brappity brappity like an egotistical shitbird," I shouted, waving my fist angrily in the air as your children called me 'Dad' and referred to you as 'that impotent asshole.'

"I see your point," your wife concluded, relieving her bowels on your college diploma. "And 'Green Haze' isn't anywhere near as good as Jimi Hendrix's 'Purple Haze'!"

"I know!" I agreed excitedly, selling your wife's wedding ring to a pawn shop and spending the proceeds on a new bed frame because we'd destroyed the other one with our fervent banging, the likes of which she had never experienced. "I said the same thing about 'Blue Haze' earlier on this page!"

Then we set your car on fire and told your boss you fuck little kids.

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Blue Moods - Debut 1955
Rating = 5

2011 - It's not often you run across a perfectly average (rather than completely putrid) Miles Davis album, so I think it might be worthwhile to address those aspects that render Blue Moods so impressively mediocre (rather than vomit-inducingly stench-riddled).

1. No Piano - How does this help? It gives the record an idiosyncratic "hey, there's no piano!" feel.

2. Trombone/Trumpet Interplay - The first two of these four songs mix and mesh the two brass instruments into both tangled double-leads and an intriguing lead-trumpet/rhythm-trombone arrangment. You'll be all like, "What is this, the Thinking Fellers? But with horns?"

3. Vibrato Vibes - Vibraphonist Teddy Charles runs his instrument through a Leslie speaker or oscillating fan or some confounded thing to give it a really eerie vibrating tone.

4. The Song "Nature Boy" - Neither a Primus cover nor a Nick Cave cover but in fact an all-original Eden Ahbez cover, "Nature Boy" combines a melodic trumpet line with lamentful trombone toots, creepy vibraphone chords and cool Charles Mingus bass for a down-in-the-dumps pre-Tom Waits mood of pure midnight blue.

Unfortunately, the second half shanghais every progressive element of the first, telling it "23-Skiddoo!" to make way for 13 minutes of easy listening Vegasy schmaltz.

If you're looking for a good jazz album, try Alice Coltrane's Journey In Satchidananda. If you're looking for a bad jazz album, try 95% of Miles Davis's discography.

Now here's a little joke for all you Jazzheads out there:

What do you get when you cross Miles Davis with an army vehicle?
A septic tank!

That sucked. I'm about to fall asleep. Here's a poem:

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles davis sucks

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Quintet/Sextet (with Milt Jackson) - Prestige 1955
Rating = 1

2011 - Hi, I'm Milt "Bags" Jackson. You know, when my friend Smiley Davidson asked me to record an album with him, I thought, "Say, that'd be a-ok. After all, he loves music and so do I." But then what happened!? What happened!? Well, I'll tell you what happened.

First of all, I show up at the studio and he's not wearing any pants. Now that's fine; it was a hot August day and you know how humid Hackensack can be. But you wouldn't believe the next thing he says to me. He turns to me and says, "Bags?" he says. "Bags, I left my trumpet at the Blimpie on Main Street." And I'm like, "Come on, man. You knew we were recording today! What were you doing at Blimpie?"

And he says to me he says, and I couldn't believe this, he says to me, "Well, since the album we're going to record isn't going to have any melodies on it AT ALL, I figured I'd just bounce a sandwich up and down on the little trumpet buttons -- you know, as a goof. Nobody will care. Jazz fans are infantile; they'll rave about it no matter how shitty and boring it is."

And that was the day I joined Limp Bizkit.

- Excerpt from Bags O' Shit: The Milt "Bags" Jackson Story by Milt "Bags" Jackson

--------------------------

Hey fucker, this is John Lenwood "Jackie" McLean. When Smiley Davidson and Jesse "Reggie" Jackson called me up and said, "Come on down here to Rudy Van Gelder Studio and record an album with us," I was hyped, psyched and double-diked. So I grabbed two of my most tuneful and hooky compositions, hopped on my Segway, and was there in a jiffy flash. Unfortunately, something went terribly, terribly wrong.

The first thing I noticed is that Smiley wasn't wearing any pants. Now I ain't no prude, but it can get right chilly inside those air conditioned studios and I'll be honest with you, I didn't want some guy catching a cold and sneezing all over my alto saxophone. Nevertheless, I handed out the sheet music for "Dr. Jackle" and "Minor March" and we started tuning up.

17 minutes later, Smiley shouted, "Okay, cut!" Apparently we'd just recorded the mother fucking songs! Now please excuse me if I don't recall writing "Dr. Jackle" as a 12-bar cocktail blues song or doing away with melody entirely when penning "Mirror March," but hey it wasn't MY name on the album cover so who cares what I have to say about ANYTHING!?

Pricks.

- Excerpt from Jackie'n' Off: A John Lenwood "Jackie" McLean Autobiography by John Lenwood "Jackie" McLean

---------------------------------

You may know me. Some do. Others don't. But some do. My name is best known as Raphael Homer "Ray" Bryant. I play the piano for jazz records all over society. One day in August 5th at about 19:55 PM, Smiley Davidson, Jesse "Reggie" Jackson and Jake Elwood "Don" McLean called me up after midnight, told me I'm wrong, told me I'm right and asked if I wanted to bring my piano down to the studio and play some tasty licks on a hot new jazz platter they were preparing. "A jazz platter?" I responded. "Why would I want to eat a plate full of ejaculate?" But, as fate turned out to be, they were using slang terminology. As such, I folded up my piano, placed it into a knapsack and walked on down to Hackensack from my home in Juneau, Alaska.

The first thing I thought when I got there was, "Hey, I have a new song called 'Changes' that I think you guys will really like." Then, just for shits and grins, I played them the first verse of "Changes" by Black Sabbath and then that killer intro to "Changes" by Yes. At this, Smiley turned to me and said, "Remember when you were lugging your piano in here and we were all taking naps while holding our instruments? I'm going to call THAT 'Changes' and attribute it to you on the album. Prick."

Prick.

- Excerpt from 'Paul Revere'? No! The 'RAY'-der!: The Unexpected Life and Tragic Birth of Raphael Homer "Ray" Bryant by Raphael Homer "Ray" Bryant

------------------------------------

Hey, we're Percy Heath and Arthur Taylor. We play music together, we live together, we eat together. We breathe together, we share jokes together, we murder together. This album sucks. There's too much pussyass vibraphone and boring soloing. It's dull as shit. Good luck focusing on the music -- there's NOTHING going on!

- Original liner notes, Quintet/Sextet

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Miles: The New Miles Davis Quintet - Prestige 1956
Rating = 3

2011 -

IT'S THE SAME OLD CRAP
By The Four Tops

It starts with "Just Squeeze Me"
But this old-timey ballad stinks; I don't care that it's got Coltrane
Nine hours of solos and four seconds of song
Perhaps it'd thrill me if I lived in a bong
"No Greater Love" is so sleepy
No wonder Winehouse covered it pre-O.D.

'Cause it's the same old crap
Just with a different title
But the same old "Brapp"
It's the same old crap
But with a different track listing
Not deserving a clap

You're probably wondering why
when I hear the song 'S'posin'," I start to cry
It's not the melody that's haunting me
In fact I'm crying because there IS NO MELODY!
"How Am I to Know" is fast enough to not blow
But I don't care if I never hear it again ever

It's the same old crap
Just with a different title
But the same old "Brapp"
It's the same old crap
But with a different track listing
Don't fall into its trap!

Then the fucken "Theme" keeps a draggin' on
Does a bunch of tuneless solos even count as a song!?
Now it's gone, and it's "Stablemates"
A groovy synchronized intro before the band masturbates
How can anyone stand this music!?
I wish we had a Taliban so we could ban this music

It's the same old crap
Just with a different title
But the same old "Brapp"
It's the same old crap
But with a different track listing
So prepare to nap

It's the same old crap
Just with a different title
But the same old "Brapp"
It's the same old crap
But with a different gynecologist
To smear your pap
Or whatever. I don't know.

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Collectors' Items - Prestige 1966
Rating = 1

2011 -

THE HILARIOUS PAGES

Some Day in 1966

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Workin' - Prestige 1956.
Rating = 5

First of all, let me point out that rock and roll had existed for a good several months when The Miles Davis Quintet recorded this album so it would have been really nice had he acknowledged its importance and invited Eddie Van Halen to sit in with the band, but perhaps some people are just too old and set in their ways to accept change. Miles Davis was clearly one of these people.

This little band featured a young John Coltrane on something called a "tenor saxophone," which I'm pretty sure is just a made-up name for him using both hands to exacerbate his womanrod (get his joke? "tenner sexophone"? funny guy, that John Coltrane. A regular Jackie Mason of Chicken Soup fame). There are also three other musicians portraying a pianist, bassist and drummer. The CD starts off excellent, with a lovely little straightforward Rodgers-Hart tune called "It Never Entered My Mind." After that, it turns into "jazz" though, with all the useless solos and boring key changes that that would suggest. The piano sounds great on the whole thing and I just love it when them jazz dudes play really fast note runs at the same time to show that they actually are pre-written and not just made up on the spot like a Frank Zappa guitar solo - but too much of the CD is just more of what I don't like about jazz. Individual showing off on the part of every performer. If I wanted showing off, I'd watch Greg Louganis die of AIDS, thanks!

That wasn't the most sensitive thing I've ever written.

Reader Comments

ddickso2@uccs.edu
A HA! I think I've just figured out the reason behind my impression of Dirty Rotten LP. I'd just finished listening to Frank Sinatra's Songs for Swingin' Lovers!! (1955). And you know what THAT man said about rock and roll at the year in question. . .

"THAT isn't music!! It's just. . . just. . . NOISE!!!"

Darn that fellow AND his Oleo--may they burn in Havana!

Now. About Workin. Jazz, in the right proportions, gives one what doctors refer to as "Neat-o Syndrome". Being a big fan of "neat-o" and that song from West Side Story that goes "cool.", I'd say this album is rightly proportioned. It's not overloaded with air (Kind of Blue), nor overloaded with lack of air (Blue Train), nor not loaded with much of anything at all (A Love Supreme--twenty-eight minutes short!!). It's just perfectly balanced. I can't say these songs are the most well-written ever (I mean, it's JAZZ. They make it up on the spot for Chrissakes.) But they give you a generalized "cool, neat-o", or "cooeato" feeling, like your sweater just walked off your body, snapped its sleeves to the beat, and said, "Let's groove." So I'd say if I could pick any instrumental album to eat a romantic wild quail dinner to, it would be this one as of now. Can you do that to hardcore punk?? Can you, I ask??

Well, of course you can do it to "Damaged I." It's jazz too--but dammit, my point stands.

edoslan@gmail.com
actually, Mr. Rock Expert, rock n roll had existed for several *years* in 1956 - Bill Haley and the Comets scored the first rock hit with 'Crazy Man, Crazy' in 1953... HOWEVER it must be stated that I read somewhere from someone who said that, despite what the movies and documentaries tell you, rock didn't just all of a sudden turn the world upside down. In 1955 or whatever songs like 'Rock Around the Clock' were just considered catchy singles on the hit parade, no different than other big hits of the time.

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Steamin' - Prestige 1956.
Rating = 5

Still playin' COOL, dude with more tunes recorded on the same day that they "cut" Workin' (more like JERKIN', if you ask me....). Not sure why this one is called Steamin' instead of Relaxin' - it's an awfully relaxed record! It also features one of my all-time favorite jazz riffs (yes, I do like a few of them!) - Thelonius Monk's "Well You Needn't." Elsewhere you'll find a rollicking, wildass rendition of "Salt Peanuts" that I honestly didn't recognize as "Salt Peanuts" at all, plus a gorgeous Rodgers-Hammerstein tune. However - and here's a shocker that may make you fall off your chair and bang your ass against my face as I peer up your trouser leg - the rest of the disc is marred by lots of haphazard hootin' and some other slow stuff that just doesn't cut the melodic mustard of my musical marmalade man.

Speaking of which, I just got an email from the singer of the Crucifucks!!! Doesn't that kick ass, all you Miles Davis fans???

Reader Comments

ddickso2@uccs.edu
What the fuck dudes. No one's commented on these four albums and Kind of Blue gets like a billion responses? Pfft. Typical.

Now, I won't pretend to be objective here--like Prindle, I'm not the biggest jazzbo wankity wank-wank fan in the world. Kind of Blue, despite its blueness and kindness, slightly bores me (despite me sending a semi-fanboyish comment on it a while back--must've sent that one when I gave a flaming fuck what intellectualoids liked). I don't like saxophone solos as a general rule, I actively DESPISE jazz fusion, and Giant Steps makes me want to go punch something. Not even A Love Supreme, in all its bombastic wanky glory, impresses me beyond the "my, but this fellow sure can play plenty notes really really fast" level.

But good GOD. These '56 Quintet records are just golden, golden, GOLDEN, I tell you! Why didn't you tell me about them sooner, jazz fans? No "experimentation" or "groundbreaking" here, just five classy fellows playing jazz boppity songs they happen to like. With HOOKS! Bonus! And everyone gets a solo, not just the sax guy! Yup, this sure beats modal scales and electric piano skronk any week of the month.

Now, for all you indie rock fans that know of no other Miles Davis records other than Kind of Blue and Bitches Brew, rest assured these albums are not all that experimental, historical, or groundbreaking. However, the music rules regardless--it's like your own shoes want to walk off your body, tap to the jazzbo beat, and say something classy and Fifties-like, like "Mack," "Oleo," or "what a handsome, gay day it is today, Bertram, wouldn't you say good fellow? *coughs on cigar, uses lead-based paint*"

It helps that most of the songs are covers--that way we're guaranteed a hook on most of the songs. Workin's the album with all the classic songs, Cookin's the one with the long marijuana jams, and Relaxin's the one with the most complicated playing (what with that "Oleo" and what-not), but I think we can all agree that Steamin's the one that holds together best as an album. See? The Beatles weren't the first to record cohesive LPs! (Neither was Miles, for that matter, but who cares about stupid facts anyway gadnavvit.)

Anyway, if you're looking to get into jazz and you don't care about no stinkin' experimental crap dude, pick up these four albums--Workin' and Steamin' especially. They make you classy just by sitting on the shelf/in your CD wallet/in your hard drive.

Incidentally, I was listening to Shania Twain's "Whatever You Do!! Don't!!!" when writing this. Jazzy modal fusiony gal, that Shania Twain.

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Relaxin' - Prestige 1956
Rating = 6

I guess I just have to come to terms with the fact that jazz is a different type of music than rock. Inferior, yes, but no less different. Every song is always going to feature sixty-lillion solos and many of the melodies will seem non-melodic to me simply because they're based on "jazz scales" or some related non-rock silliness. This is yet another album recorded in two "MARATHON" sessions (where the whole band sat around eating Marathon candy bars) back in '56 when The Fonz was going "Aaaaaaay!". But it seems more consistent than the last two somehow. More catchy melodies and pretty passages. Maybe not, I don't know. Quite frankly, it's pretty hard to give an adequate summation of a bunch of albums I've only heard 2 or 3 times in my life. Especially a musical form as complex as jazz, where it could take a dozen listens for one to become familiar with all the changes, nooks and crannies of each song.

Stupid old Miles Davis, making music whose qualities aren't readily apparent to me within 10 minutes of putting the CD in.

Reader Comments

ddickso2@uccs.edu
Eh, must disagree with Prindle on this one being better than the previous two. I think it's rather the weakest of the four. Probably because there's no wickedass awesome speedy skronk like "Salt Peanuts" and "Half Nelson" or beauteous piano etherealness like "Something I Dreamed Last Night" or the last chord of "A Day in the Life" or what-not. It's just, y'know. . . jazzy. Unpretentious n' cool. And damn that "Oleo" sure is complicated. And there's no really long-ass jammy songs on here, so if you like your jazzbo music short, this might be your bag.

Still, Workin'. And Steamin', man. Great hooks AND great jamming. And all fitting together on the album like a glove. How did they record BOTH those albums on the same day? They were magic people, that's how.

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Cookin' - Prestige 1956
Rating = 3

2005 - I am one exhaustible fellow. I don't know if it's the humidity, the lack of sleep or what, but something's got me feeling like an awfully tired attractive man. Actually, maybe it's all the tiny annoyances that have been infecting my life like a pus milkshake over the past couple of weeks. First there was a rigmarole with the dumbass asshole management company that overcharges us for maintenance every month. What happened specifically is that the pricks forgot to mail us a maintenance notice for May, then in early June sent us a notice saying that we'd logged a $25 late fee for not paying. So I called the asshole idiot bitch whore cunt slag lesbian woman who sent the letter, left her a very detailed voicemail and asked her to call me back so we could discuss the late fee and what-have-you. So she didn't call back. For a WEEK. So instead I decided on my own to not pay the $25 late fee, and sent in a check for two months' maintenance at the price quoted in her letter, along with a note explaining why I opted to forfeit the late fee. So the very next day, I got my official June maintenance notice -- and the amount was $200 MORE than her fucking dumbass letter had said it was!!! So I had to write (waste) yet another check for the balance, along with another letter explaining that I'd paid the rest of it a day earlier. How much you wanna bet I get a notice in July saying that I've logged $50 in late fees? How much you wanna bet this woman weighs 700 pounds and defecates through her nose?

But that's only the first annoyance. Next up would be my right ear, which alerted me during an otherwise lovely shower a few weeks ago that it no longer wants water to naturally drain out of it. So I've been walking around half-deaf for a couple weeks now, with my ear constantly plugged with - what? Water? Wax? A tick's nest? I don't know, but I've twice used this ear wax cleaning shit that makes it sound like there's a steak sizzling in my ear and the problem has only gotten worse. So don't try to shout "Watch out for that falling anvil!" because I can't hear a word you're saying.

Annoyance #3 is that my boss switched our payroll account to a new bank without telling me, resulting in two May paychecks being returned to me as having bounced. FUCK! Was I supposed to send in the goddamned things the exact day I received them!? Now she has to write me out a new personal check covering the past two payment periods, along with the $10 "bounced check" fee that my bank charges (because, after all, it's the RECIPIENT'S fault if a check bounces. Pricks.). Not to mention the fact that I still haven't been paid for LAST AUGUST. Which was, oh, ELEVEN MONTHS AGO.

And finally we reach Annoyance #4. Last night my wife gave me a lovely haircut about which I've no complaint. Unfortunately she then instructed me, a man whose fingers constantly shake and occasionally lop off, to "cut (my) own pubic hair." I agreed that with bathing suit season coming up it would be best if my short & curlies no longer dangled past my knees, and took to the task with gusto. Unfortunately, after the job was complete, a regrettable thought entered my head: "Say! Maybe I'll cut some of this BALL hair too!" So I began snipping away at the ball hair, carefully but clearly not carefully enough, as it was at this inopportune time that my wife began asking me if I wanted some "apple slices with cheese." Having never heard of such a ghastly vomitous snack in all my years, my mind conjured up images of sweet-meets-cheese, sour-meets-cheese, nature-meets-cheese and the next thing you know I'd nicked my ballsac. If you've never experienced the slicing of the great philosopher Testicles, I tell you what: it bleeds. Bleeds out the ASS, though not literally. So I applied pressure to my nutsac until it stopped bleeding, then cautiously applied a Band-Aid to my scrote. I've taken two showers since, and both times the fuckin' thing has started bleeding again. How am I supposed to go to Tae Kwon Do tonight? What if I do some awesome kick and my ballsac splits in two, flinging balls and nutjuice all willy-nilly over the rest of the class? Fuckin' scissors can eat a dick.

And these are just the MAJOR annoyances. Like everybody else, I regularly encounter the minor ones too. Like the way the stall door kept opening while I was taking an hour-long poop this morning. But I consider that less of an annoyance than a golden opportunity to showcase my colossal pecker for the other guys in the office. Hopefully they didn't see my ballsac Band-Aid. The last thing I need are rumors flying about a discount vasectomy.

So you put together all of these irritants into a big bag of plastic and what do you get? A Miles Davis album! Specifically Cookin', which finds Mr. Davis sharing his recipes for a variety of fine dishes including Shrimp Scampi, Trout A La Peppercorn, and Inability To Write A Decent Song. A further example of "hard bop," this record is yet another batch of Quintet performances from the October 1956 sessions that created Suckin', Blowin' and Jerkin' Off. Lord knows I love Philly Joe Jones Cheese Sandwiches and Christmasy Red Garlands, and everybody knows that a Coltrane John is necessary to keep the engineer from just pissing over the side, but I'll be both good and goddamned if Miles Davis isn't the messiest trumpet player God ever allowed to pick up an instrument. Is he just the Jimmy Page of jazz? Because I like Jimmy Page's messiness - it gives his playing a specific character. If that's the case, then way to go Miles! However, if he's just messy because he sucks, then up your ass Miles! Here's a non-hilarious joke not to ever say to anybody ever -- if you've been listening to music all day and it's midnight and this album is playing and your wife says "Come up to bed, sweetheart," say, "Sorry honey. I've got Miles to go before I sleep!" Then try not to listen as she grudge fucks your brother for an hour and a half.

Four tracks rest astride this album. Some of them have crazy names like "Airegin" and "Tune-Up/When The Lights Are Low"; others go for more traditional titles such as "My Funny Valentine" and "Blues By Five." Some are Miles Davis originals; others are the compositions of popular songwriters of the day like Rodgers/Hart and Sonny Rollins. Many of the tracks are slow as dirt with a pleasant enough piano line but ugly, raspy trumpet that's WAY too loud in the mix; several others begin with a piano line reminiscent of "The Woody Woodpecker Show" before shittaking into a boring 12-bar blues with solos a gogo; thousands more are fast boppin' big fuckin' yawnin' jazz chord changes of no consequences that suddenly turn into cutesy midtempo swing pop songs halfway through. But through all of these many, many, countless tracks, only one appeals (for more than 15-20 seconds) to the discerning ears of Mark "Mr. Jazzbo" Prindle. This is Sonny Rollins' "Airegin," a speedy Spanish Tango Hotcha Intrigue number that cruises along on groovy piano and rhythm section backing horns that actually return to the MELODY several times during the course of four and a half minutes. See? Not all jazz has to be bad! When the musicians finally stop masturbating all over each other and bother to play a hook, it can result in some darned nice ear candy! And this isn't the first time I've used the words "masturbating" and "candy" in the same sentence, so you might want to shop at a different grocery store.

Let this be a lesson to all you jazz players out there -- stop practicing your solos and start writing some killer riffs. With just a bit more structure and a few more actual songwriters, jazz could become every bit as popular as shitty modern R'n'B!

Also, Miles Davis forewent the traditional instrument case in favor of an orphaned boy's large intestine, a practice that I find lamentable.

Reader Comments

MetalloSoran@aol.com
Mark, are you sure that's water in your ear? I had that same thing going on a while ago and what it turned out to be was a virus that caused like post-nasal drip and made me cough a bit and that crazy thing happen to my right ear. I thought I was going deaf or something from my crazy rock and roll lifestyle but luckily I took some allergy medicine (or cold medicine, anything that dries mucus up) and it cleared up. If it really is just water stuck in your ear for no reason then I'm sorry and it appears life hates you. Also, way to go puncturing your scrote. That sucks. Next time use one of those adjustable electric razors like I do. Ok, I hope my retarded advice helps but it probably won't. Good luck.

ddickso2@uccs.edu
Yeah, not surprised Prindle hates this album most of the four. I don't think the passage of time since his last reviews has much to do with his low rating--it's the most jam-happy of the quartet, and hence the most aimless.

However, if you like the style of music, you might get off on it. Personally, that Philly Joe Jones and Paul Chambers dude are too addictive for me NOT to enjoy most anything they toss off, and damn that piano player shore can play, so I'm sold. Overall, for me, the album's too short (about 34 minutes) and too dominated by the two long jams, but it makes a bigger impression than Relaxin, so I give it a four stars (out of five) and use it as vacuuming music.

Speaking of balls, it's pretty good background music for other, non-family, activities too. But I can't say I've had the problems Mark speaks of above (yet). I seem to have ball pattern baldness, as it were; such is my good fortune.

Add your thoughts?


'Round About Midnight - Columbia 1957
Rating = 2

2011 - "'Round About Midnight is widely recognized by jazz critics as a landmark album in hard bop and one of the greatest jazz albums of all time." - Wikipedia

"Musically, this sound is as unusual and as beautiful as it was when issued in 1956. Davis had already led the charge through two changes in jazz -- both cool jazz and hard bop -- and was beginning to move in another direction here that wouldn't be defined for another two years." - All Music Guide

"The spare and elliptical trumpet phrasing of Davis hypnotically contrasted with the striving ferocity of Coltrane's tenor sax, and a jazz rhythm section (this one included drummer Philly Joe Jones) had never before sounded so unerringly swinging and yet so effortlessly and provocatively flexible." - The Guardian

"Garland's block-chord accompaniment and lyrical phrasing would influence a whole generation of pianists. Chambers and Jones were like conjoined twins linked at both the head and heart, with an ability to define groove and swing at any tempo." - All About Jazz

"‘Round Midnight' opens proceedings and is worth the cover price alone. Perhaps the most beautiful of modern standards it is one of Davis’ finest outings—a masterpiece of understated eloquence." - Pop Matters

"If you want to hear the origins of post-bop modern jazz, this is it." - Amazon.com

There you go, Jazzheads -- a review by critics who actually comprehend the appeal of this boring bleating bullshit. I get the distinct feeling that even if I understood the mechanics of what they were doing, I still wouldn't enjoy listening to it. I sort of like the dark chord changes of Swedish folk cover "Dear Old Stockholm" and Miles' surprisingly melodic solo in Thelonius Monk's "'Round Midnight," but the only piece of music that truly makes my beard leap off my face is the awesomely speedy sax/trumpet interplay at the beginning and end of Charlie Parker's "Ah-Leu-Cha." Sadly, the rest of the song does what every other jazz song in the world does: "doody-doody-doody-doody!" for four and a half hours.

Spare? Elliptical? Ferocious? Lyrical? Come on, it's just a bunch of jerks blowing carbon dioxide into metal tubes. I've heard more "unerringly swinging" expulsions from an iron lung.

Add your thoughts?


Miles Ahead - Columbia 1957.
Rating = 2

Now this is the kind of jazz that I loathe more than other. This is one of four LPs that Miley did with arranger Gil Evans and a 19-piece orchestra. An orchestra that keeps playing these piercing, annoying, loud, assholish brass blasts of screaming shit. I can't listen to it. Who has ears that can deal with listening to noise at this frequency? No wonder all jazz fans are like five billion years old - they're the only ones deaf enough to tolerate this earpiss!

"New Rhumba" is awesome though. And the quiet parts are nice. Until the fucking BRASS SECTION COMES BACK IN TO YELL IN YOUR FUCKING EAR AGAIN!!!!!!

Reader Comments

ddickso2@uccs.edu
Oh, sakes alive, Prindle, if you hate this stuff, you will simply LOATHE Blood Sweat and Tears' self-titled. They make Dizzy Gillespie look like Marky BASS.

Besides, what's wrong with a little ear-yelling from time to time? I don't hear any complaining on THIS site about Industrial Overdrive, and that's the shrillest song song ever recorded by anyone of all time ever.

All that said, I consider this album mere light entertainment that happens to appeal to jazzbos. True, it's more sophisticated and artsy-fartsy than Birth of the Cool (each side is just one long suite), and I agree that "New Rhumba" owns, but the songs range from decently moody to happily dull. Fortunately, I've been watching a lot of '50's movies lately, and I AM all hopped up on old man ethers, so I'll give it a 7.

Add your thoughts?


Ascenseur Pour L'echafaud - Fontana 1958
Rating = 6

2011 - Saaaaaay, this one doesn't suck complete dick at all! For once in his buttfucking life, Miles "Buttfucker" Davis has been given a directive: "Make a soundtrack for my film noir movie" and VOLIA! There's melody, there's moodiness, there's speedy be-bop, there's groovy cool jazz and trumpet/sax interplay, there's Pink Panther-style intrigue, there's bass bass bass, there's DARK COMPELLING ATMOSPHERE! Most of the time, "atmosphere" for Miles Davis means the rotten egg smell emanating from his ass all over the studio, but this time he pulls out a can of Not Just Dicking Around Juice and pours it all over your stereo system for 26 heart-nullifying minutes. VOLIA!

Recorded on December 4th and 5th, 1957 in Paris, France for the Louis Malle film Ascenseur Pour L'echafaud (The Garbage Pail Kids Movie), this brief LP is positive proof that Mr. Davis is capable of writing actual music with actual hooks and actual ambiance. In fact, if it weren't for the usual "theme repetition" factor endemic in film soundtrackery (the bluesy "Florence Sur les Champs-Elysees" is just a reprise of "Generique," creepy sliterhing "Julien Dans l'Ascenseur" is just a reprise of "L'Assassinat de Carala," speedy be-bopper "Diner au Motel" is just an extension of "Sur l'Autoroute"), it'd probably get a grade so high you wouldn't believe it.

WARNING THOUGH: This 6-rating applies only to the original 26-minute LP, not the suicide-inducingly tedious 77-minute CD reissue.

Now here's a bunch of euphemisms for "Miles Davis sucks":

- "Miles Davis plays melody like most people play backgammon: not at all."
- "Give Miles Davis a trumpet and he'll play it for one day. Teach Miles Davis to play trumpet... Please!"
- "Outside a dog, a trumpet is Miles Davis's best friend. Inside a dog, there are bowels capable of creating greater art than 95% of Miles Davis's discography.
- "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and Miles Davis sucks."
- "...As he poured WD-40 all over his tightly-wedged penis, the haughty British playboy angrily shouted, 'I thought you said Miles Davis's strumpet!'"
- "The Who wrote two songs for Miles Davis: one in the case of his going blind ('I Can See For Miles'), the other in the case of his continuing to release albums ('Music Must Change'). Also, 'Boris the Spider' is about Miles Davis buttfucking a spider."

Add your thoughts?


Milestones - Columbia 1958.
Rating = 4

Featuring John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderly, this album starts with an astonishing whirlwind flurry of way way WAY too-fast-to-be-human note runs in an incredible speed thrash death grindcore jazz song called "Dr. Jekyll." But after that, it's Business As Usual featuring "Be Good, Be Good, Be Good Johnny". The horns are a good 58 frillion times louder than the bass, piano and drums, so any concept of "melody" or "repetition" is kicked in the windpipe from moment two. And I don't know that I've ever sat through so much endless, mindless soloing in all my days. Thelonius Monk's "Straight, No Chaser" comes dangerously close to a hook (later quoted by Ray Manzarek in The Doors' "We Could Be So Good Together"!), so the band nips that in the bud superfast, dumping any semblance of catchiness for yet more frenzied, directionless blooping and bleeping.

Fuck jazz up the ass. What a worthless piece of shit form of musical expression. Anybody who claims to like it is lying and probably very unpopular and smelly.

Reader Comments

glenn.lester@hope.edu
Like others, I've got to give you credit for reviewing Miles. It's unhealthy to worship a musician and you level some fair criticism against jazz as a music. I too, though I try to play and study jazz, am sometimes unnerved by the lack of melodies in solos and the sameness of a lot of tunes. But there's nothing like a well-played jazz solo. And this album is full of 'em. All uptempo (except Sid's Ahead, which is a slow blues) swingers; kind of the antithesis to Kind of Blue. If you were to purchase Kind of Blue, I'd recommend picking up Milestones the same day. Where KoB is slow, soft, cool, Milestones is fast, loud, and just fun. Milestones was recorded a year or so before KoB and features almost the same personnel (Red Garland plays piano here, and the great Philly Joe Jones is on drums). Some highlights of this record: Miles's tension-filled solo on "Sid's Ahead," all of "Milestones" (which might be called "Miles" on the label), Cannonball and Coltrane trading choruses on "Dr. Jekyll." I understand and agree with some of your criticisms, but try listening to the energy that's going on in all these solos, and how they differ from each other (Miles plays shorter phrases and develops them, Trane spits our run-on sentences from another planet, Cannonball slides and shakes like a preacher). For rockers who want to get into straightahead jazz, I'd recommend this record, along with any Charles Mingus (especially Mingus Ah Um, Blues and Roots, The Clown, and Live in Antibes) or John Coltrane (My Favorite Things or Blue Trane). If I had to give a ten, this would probably be it.

brandonschooldistrict@hotmail.com (Brandon Schools)
As an administrator of a Michigan public school, I must complain to you, sir, over the content of your profane website which has become increasingly popular with my students, who are reading it with the computers in the school library, which is for research purposes only. I highly doubt my students have been assigned research papers on the subject of heavy rock bands such as Black Sabbath and AC/DC. These are not artists whom we would even be encouraging our students to listen to, due to their anti-social lyrical content. I browsed through your Miles Davis reviews and was shocked at some of your statements. Allow me to quote: "F--- jazz up the a--. What a worthless piece of s--- form of musical expression. Anybody who claims to like it is lying and probably very unpopular and smelly."

This, I hope you realize, is an unfair assessment of a perfectly valid form of musical expression as well as the people who enjoy it. I, for one, enjoy jazz a great deal, and I can assure you that I am not "unpopular" or "smelly."

The fact is, Mr. Prindle, that the students at my school do not use profane language. Here at Brandon we have taught them to be respectful and kind. I fear your website will be a negative influence on the student body here, and we are taking steps to block access from the school computers. Mark Prindle's Rock and Roll Record Reviews are no longer welcome at Brandon High School. I hope this message will cause you to reconsider the harmful effect you are having on today's youth.

Thank you for your time

eric.neuser@umusic.com
You are an extremely SILLY man Mark. Why have you bothered I wonder? This is the Mark Prindle Rock And Roll Review website after all. You haven't even reviewed Deep Purple or Alice Cooper. But I appreciate your audacity as always. Do not review Muddy Waters, do not collect $200 - head straight for shit's creek and pop a squat on your own paddle. Nice work! I will read all your Miles reviews for entertainment purposes when my boss stops circling my desk looking for more reasons to pass me over for one of the super size cubicles. I confess I had hopes though. There's gotta be other people out there who can get off on D.R.I. and be-bop alike. Especially "Milestones". Intense and scary shit lurks within these winds and brass sometimes. And Philly Jo Jones makes Dave Lombardo sound like Lars Ulrich.

thepublicimage79@hotmail.com
Is that comment from the school administrator in Michigan an actual comment?

I mean, I know Michigan's a hole (I live here, for God's sake), but is that actually something someone wrote? I mean...it sounds like some kind of joke! On SNL when it was good!

Wow. I just can't believe that - "the harmful effect you are having on America's youth" - what is this, the fucking '50's?

ddickso2@uccs.edu
Boring. The Quintet albums actually had good songs--this is just show-off speedy experimental doodoo that appeals to people who also play brass instruments and play them really really really fast.

But DUDE! I actually RECOGNIZE "Milestones!" Haven't had that happen to me since Dave Brubeck's "Take Five."

Groudbreaking, but unenjoyable. Get Steamin'. It's entertaining.

Add your thoughts?


Miles 1958 - CBS Japan
Rating = 3

It's appropriate that you can rearrange the letters in "Miles Davis" to spell "Saliva Demon" because every time he spits into that brass urinal he carries around, it sounds like HELL! King Midas himself would be proud of the way Miles miraculously changed everything he touched into shit. See if you can find old video footage of this era of Miles' development because you can clearly see a thick brown chunky liquid pouring out the loud end of his horn. His colleagues chalked it up to quirkiness or heroin, but I think Miles just had certain special talents that couldn't be heard on record. At least I assume so, because he definitely didn't have any talents that COULD be heard on record!

(*is shot dead by Miles Davis fan*)

Hey there! Prindle reporting here from Heaven. I was apparently due for Hell, but Miles is stinkin' up the joint so much, everybody else moved out. This album was released in Japan only, and features Miles sucking balls alongside such talented musicians as John Coltrane, Cannonball "Julian" Adderly, Bill Evans, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb and "Joe" Philly Jones. The band does a delicious job of running through such mellow, inoffensive elevator music as "Fran-Dance" and "Stella By Starlight," as well as some indistinguishable peppy-jazz-by-numbers tracks by the name of "On Green Dolphin Street" and "Love For Sale." The one honestly good tune is "Little Melonae," which -- almost startlingly -- has a HOOK! The rest just vacillates between pretty sax playing and horrendously fuckbad splatches of incorrectly performed trumpet.

See, the great thing about rock music is that you can pick up an electric guitar or bass and just start thwacking around having never seen one before in your life, and the results would STILL be more pleasant on the ears than any note Miles Davis ever played on his trumpet.

Add your thoughts?


Porgy And Bess - Columbia 1958
Rating = 6

2005 - Say! Have you heard this one? It's not bad at all! And they say I'm not "cultured" and can't appreciate "jass" music. Well, you can tell that to the Sheriff of Wrongtown because I'm all over select portions of this swingin' swayin' records playin' rendition of two white guys' "Porgy And Bess." Yes, two white guys have brought us many handy-dandy things in life -- wine coolers, "The Sounds Of Silence," Watergate -- but not since Adam and Steve have two white guys brought us such luxuriant, romantic splendor as select portions of Porgy And Bess. So let's hear it for two white guys! Huzzah! Wade ago! For they're a jolly good fellows, mailboxes etc.

Specifically, these two white guys are Rodgers and Hammerstein, the finest American pop song composers of their day, aside from the Gershwin Brothers of "Porgy And Bess" fame. And when Miles Davis, Gil Evans, Cannonball Adderly, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, Danny Banks and a whole lotta hornyass motherfuKKKas got together to ride the Gershey Highway on a custom-built jalopy of Orchestral/Big Band/Cool Jazz, the results were on many occasions as melodic, melodious and unmalodorous as other artists' pretty songs (ex. "Seagull" by Bad Company).

First of all, thank GODD for prewritten material. There ain't jackass wrong with billions of brass instruments if they're playing an actual *SONG* instead of leading the listener on a wild goose chase of random notes with no destination in sight. These arrangements are extremely well-done, with crazy syncopation, weird chords changing over groovy bass/drum combinations, and oodles of multiple-horn harmonies and interplay. I'm not afraid to say "Why are there so godmanydamned ballads on this fuckface?" for I find the Gershwin's old school balladry devoid of both humanity and hooks. But the great songs are so good, they're not half bad at all!

These great songs include:

- "The Buzzard Song," with its sad trumpet vocalizing over REALLY nice multiple sorrowful horns galore playing odd, weepy, neat, interesting chords and sequences over a groovin' bass/drum combo arrangements -- and a tuba solo(!)

- "Gone," highlighted by its kooky syncopation, intriguing and really fun stop-start drum breaks, odd songwriting and snazzy fast thingy

- "Gone, Gone, Gone" which is not the previous track repeated three times but a very short dark melancholy ballad with some clever, spooky chord changes, lots of empty spaces and quieter moments, and even a little church music influence for the religious (gullible) at heart

- the ultra-classic "Summertime," with its violently non-summerish eerie-as-an-ear ascending chord sequence that's impossible to ruin (even with a shitty frumpy trumpet tone)

- "Prayer (Oh Doctor Jesus)," beloved for its awesome call-response intro (bizarre trumpet swooping and clucking, followed by harmonized response horns), evil tone, morbid drama and dark descending chord sequence, culminating in an extremely loud and bright ending that YELLS ALL UP YOU AS THE MUSICIANS DO THEY THANG!

- and finally the itsy-bitsy "Here Come De Honey Man," a spider of a song that climbs up the waterspout of "Silent Night" until a rain of toodly-doodly horns come down and wash the spider of a song out, before the sun of VERY well-done instrumental interplay comes out and dries up all the rain of toodly-doodly horns so the itsy-bitsy spider of a song can climb up the waterspout of "Silent Night" again.

However, the rest of the album eats shit off a spoon made of other, harder shit.

No no, I'm kidding! Parts are fine, parts are dandy. I've simply named the tracks that actually hold my attention all the way through from start to finish without running off at the mouth with improvised brapp crapp. Best of all, the remixed CD buries the trumpet where it belongs - ALONGSIDE the other instruments, rather than towering above them and smothering their beauty like a big ugly trumpet-playing stepsister hiding a beautiful horny Cinderella in the closet.

That was a metaphor, incidentally. When I said 'horny,' I meant as in 'trumpets' and 'trombones' and things.

That's what Cinderella was jamming up her thingy in the closet.

Don't you love the phrase "jilling off"? It's great because its coy gentle cuteness makes it sound like girls can actually enjoy self-pleasure even with the knowledge that they could be nailing Mark Prindle right now.

Actually that's not true. I'm married and have a band-aid on my testicle. But otherwise - wham bam thank you man!

Shit, I fucked a guy.

Reader Comments

ddickso2@uccs.edu
I'm with the Sheriff of Wrongtown on this one. Yeah, all the songs are based on classics of some kind, but eh, maybe Gil Evans just isn't my bag. I like it better when Miles goes all crazy and wickedass with his heroin-addicted buddies and solos at top speed for like two thousand years. (But not when he does it on Milestones. That one doesn't count.)

So far I've listened to eleven frigging Miles Davis albums in less than two weeks, including Kind of Blue, Birth of the Cool, and Bitches Brew for the second buttmunching time. So far, only Workin' and Steamin' justify the hype.

Hey, that's two classics from the same artist. Better record than Radiohead, I'd say.

P.S. Say, does the album Bags' Groove even exist? All Music Guide says it does, but I think they lie. I can't even DOWNLOAD the thing.

Add your thoughts?


Kind Of Blue - Columbia 1959.
Rating = 4

I'm not gonna name any names here but a guy I used to work with wrote an entire book about this album. Again, no names will be discussed here because it's all water under the bridge, but I really, really, REALLY actively despised this human being while I worked with him. It was my first job out of college and he constantly berated me, treated me like an idiot, forced me to stay late to correct his mistakes, blamed me for his errors, yelled at me any time I didn't kiss his ass and essentially made me despise my life for a good three months until my boss finally canned his bastard ass. Chances are decent that he's an okay guy outside of work, but my god what an insufferable, egotistical prick he was to work with. You have no idea how happy I was the day he got fired - not just because it made my life much more pleasant but because he got the comeuppance that he so dreadfully deserved.

Of course, now he's a published author and I'm writing press releases about online checkers, but at the time it certainly felt like vengeance! So if you happen to run across a book about this album, take a look at the author's picture and wonder to yourself if it just might be the fellow I'm talking about............

As for the record, it's another one with John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderly that features a good forty minutes of group improv. Everyone seems to love this album and I'm happy for them but aside from the great main hooks in "All Blues" and the classic "So What," I have no tolerance for nor interest in hearing a bunch of guys making crap up on the spot. So watch for my book Kind Of Blew: The Making Of Another Miles Davis Album That Sounds Just Like All His Others in a bookstore near me loose!

Reader Comments

jamshidi@purdue.edu
ok Mark, now i've been a loyal Prindle Record Review site visiter and contributor for years now, but i think you've crossed some sort of line with these miles davis reviews. Now i realize that you could very well be joking around throught all these reviews, but i think you're totally out of line here. Some of the things you say just totally piss me off, for example: "I have no tolerance for nor interest in hearing a bunch of guys making crap up on the spot." The fact that you would even dare to say that anything coming out of miles', trane's, or cannonball's mouth is crap insults me honestly. These guys are some of the most brilliant musicians the world has ever known, and whether you know that or not, you should respect them. I'm not saying that you should like their records or like jazz for that matter, just respect them and don't treat their work like it's meaningless, because they put their heart and soul into their work, and if you listen hard enough and open up your mind a bit, you can hear their emotions. I admit that most of the time when i hear jazz, i just think it's cool cause they're such good musicians, but i try to hear what they're saying...whether i do or not is another thing. Which leads me to something you wrote in the Milestones review: "Fuck jazz up the ass. What a worthless piece of shit form of musical expression." Ok, i'll tell you what a worthless piece of shit form of musical expresson is. Try any punk band that ever existed, even the misfits who i like. And every stupid shit pop band out these days. None of those dumb fucks could express the way they feel just by playing a note.

These guys spoke novels practically, only if you can open your mind up to them. Well, i could go on and on about how what you're saying is offensive, but i think i'll stop and actually review the album.

Well, this was the first jazz album i actually purchased, and it's a great way to start a collection. Everyone on the album is a master, EVERYONE. I like it pretty well, although i'm not as big of a fan of cool jazz as i am more up-tempo bop kind of stuff. But a lot of memorable solos, whether you think so or not Mark. I mean, i can hum along with a bunch of parts in trane's and cannonball's solos. i'd give the album an 8.

Anyway, bottom line is, if you don't like jazz, fine, but you better damn well respect the people behind it, cause they deserve it.

InMyEyes82@aol.com (Zach English)
Look: the last thing I feel like doing is preaching about how jazz should be listened to. I can perfectly understand the argument about how the instrumental interplay is too homogenous, how endless improvisation seems to overtake the central melodies sometimes, how goddamn piercing a saxophone can sound after a while, etc. Hell, I hated the shit too at first.

But now it's an indispensable tangent of my listening tastes. It's really true that you have to hear some songs (especially the more oblique stuff by Ornette Coleman and Monk) ten or fifteen times to let them properly sink in. But it's worth it; no music I've ever heard has so many surprises stuffed in its cracks. Take Monk's Brilliant Corners, for example: one of the most astonishing examples of composition/improvisation this country has ever spat out, easily on a plane with Stravinsky and Louis Armstrong. When I first heard that album I was annoyed with how difficult and plodding the structures seemed to be and how Monk keeps playing the 'wrong' notes on the piano. But some music just demands time to settle into the folds and crimps in your brain, and most jazz I love requires rapt attention: Ornette, Dolphy, Monk among them.

And Kind of Blue is a revelation, but like Mark I prefer the Bitches Brew/Silent Way/Jack Johnson stuff just because at heart I'm a rock 'n' roll fan too.

P.S.-Mark, this guy sounds like a real asshole!

cola@together.net
Mark, I can understand your contempt for the Velvet Underground. I happen to like the band, but most of the people to whom I've introduced their records hate them.

BUT KIND OF BLUE GETTING FOUR LITTLE GODDAMN RED DOTS???

People: for once, listen to the critics. Kind of Blue is Miles Davis' masterpiece. He made some other great albums, but had he only released this one he'd still be a jazz giant. Every song is a standard, more or less. The style of playing, while not exactly revolutionary, crystallized and immortalized the genre. Kind of Blue's only peer in the pantheon of jazz albums is John Coltrane's A Love Supreme (not counting box sets or compilations, else Louis Armstrong's Hot Five & Seven recordings would tower above them all).

If you only own one jazz record, this should...no, this must be it. Even if you don't like the stuff, it's an essential document of twentieth-century music. And pick up Woody Guthrie's Dust Bowl Ballads, which is basically to folk music what Kind of Blue is to jazz.

katsman7@hotmail.com (Madd Hunter)
I'm not really into jazz (like you, Mark) and I'm a classic rock/prog rock fan (Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull etc). However, I love "Kind Of Blue". It's the essential jazz album. My favourites are "Freddie Freeloader" and "So What". And I have only two jazz albums! This and John Coltrane's "Blue Train". Both are pretty good. Except Miles, there are playing various musicians piano, keyboards, saxophone, drums etc. Listen to this album again. It will grow on you. A perfect 10 of 10.

jstallin@usc.edu
I've read many of your reviews on this site with interest and appreciation, and, more often than not, find compatibility with your taste. Your style too is often brilliant, when it is not going off half-cocked. At any rate, your insights in re: the Ramones, the Clash, Pavement, the Fall, and others seem to me dead on target. I can cavil over matters of subtlety in your opinion of the Stones (I'd argue Exile is their best - and indeed the best rock album of all time), as well as Sonic Youth (I place Dirty substantially above Goo, for example - I don't buy for a second the view that they sold out to grunge), but you never stray so far off base that anyone could accuse you of ignorance or bad taste.

Until now. You need to take this nonsense - meaning all of your Miles Davis reviews -- down from your site. Not only is it ill-considered - demonstrating at times a regrettable culmination of some of the presumably drug or alcohol induced rants elsewhere on the site -- it makes a badge of ignorance. What chemical elicited from you the crazed review of Agharta? How many times have you actually listened to Miles Ahead?

As much as I revere rock and roll, there is not one rock artist or group - with the possible exception of Dylan -- who can stand shoulder to shoulder with Miles. As a musician, writer, bandleader and innovator, he simply towers above most rock artists. He is one of the truly great artists of the second half of the twentieth century. And this reputation is secure. You only do yourself - and others who may actually be influenced by these reviews - a disservice by posting this bullshit.

errado@dipnoi.com (Bernardo Pacheco)
I thought it was pretty cool that Prindle did this page saying what he's saying. He is being very honest and in no moment speaks from a supposed authority position or puts it in a way that might mislead you. He's being clear about what HE likes in music and about what HE fails to find in jazz. Instead of writing pages of half-assed theory (by which I'm NOT suggesting all theory is half-assed) or making sad attempts at being a poet among critics. He's not pretending to pass some definitive judgment on these (or any) albums, which is a far worse and very common sin of music critics. And I don't think he's being any bit as insulting as a good part of the negative reviews I've read in my life. He's not saying Miles sucks at what he does, he's saying he can't find much interest in jazz at all. I'm sure he'll get enough complaints and insults to fill books and books for this, but as far as I'm concerned that will be the result of the readers' view of this music as sacred. Which is pretty sad.

As far as this album goes, I've only heard it once a couple of years ago and I can't remember it enough to have an opinion.

glenn.lester@hope.edu
This one is commonly called the greatest jazz recording ever, but like Sgt. Pepper's, it ain't true. It's certainly great, amazing (all the solos on "So What" blow me away), but there's no real burners, and the mood gets real mellow on the second half of the record. But it's essential amazing listening nonetheless. The way to listen to this album is just concentrating one tune at a time, looking for all the intracacies in the solos, how they build from simple phrases into longer melodies. But Mark, I think your criticism that all jazz guys are just showing off and wanking is pretty inaccurate when it comes to Miles. He's famous for leaving space in his solos, playing short, odd phrases. I can see how you wouldn't like Coltrane's playing, but his playing just sounds so urgent and otherworldly. Not many other players can do what he does.

The 60s quintet of Miles, Wayne Shorter (tenor), Ron Carter (bass), Herbie Hancock (piano), and Tony Williams (drums) probably had the best rhythm sections ever. Miles Smiles is the essential album by this group. Almost free sometimes, but still grounded in hard bop and modal playing. Tony Williams was like 19 when that album was recorded. Also check out the album 1964: The Complete Concert. It's two discs originally released seperately, one with all ballads and mid-tempo tunes, and the other with super-fast versions of "So What," "Joshua," "Four," and others. It has the Carter-Hancock-Williams rhythm section, Miles, and some tenor player named George Coleman who preceded Wayne Shorter in the group. It has amazing interaction between the soloists and the rhythm section, especially Miles and Herbie on the first (ballads) disc, on "My Funny Valentine" and "Stella by Starlight." Probably the Miles album I listen to most, because of the searing intensity of the playing and the ESP-like interaction among players.

victorprose@yahoo.com (Victor Prose)
Listen, Mark. If you dont' fucking get jazz, DON'T FUCKING REVIEW IT! Stick to your obscure punk bands and classic rock'n'roll artists, but don't berate a style of music you don't truly understand! This doesn't go for me, 'cuz I'm a classically trained pianist as well as rock aficianado, but while shit like Black Aria and Pictures at an Exhibition are okay to lambaste because they're done by rock artists and you understand rock and are familiar with its various styles and you know what's good and bad in it, but a rock critic cannot pick up a Beethoven and realize its true genius because he hasn't been exposed to music so dull or methodical in comparison to his other stuff, and therefore should not review it! MY SENTENCES ARE BECOMING ILL-FORMED, BECAUSE THE FACT THAT MILES DAVIS IS MAKING AN APPEARANCE ON A ROCK'N'ROLL SITE AND BEING CALLED "STUPID" IS AN UNBELIEVABLE THING! YOU'RE AN EXCELLENT FUCKING CRITIC AND WRITER MARK, BECAUSE YOU UNDERSTAND ROCK'N'ROLL! Now go apologize to Kind of Blue and retire to your room without supper.

matti.alakulju@peterstar.ru
First I'd like to say here: This guy Mark is running a site called "rock and roll reviews" or something like that. Then he announces that he doesn't understand jazz at all. People who understand and love jazz, should not look at this site to find proper reviews of jazz records. Go read Downbeat instead. Mark has decided to say his humble opinion about some crucial jazz records, but nobody should take these opinions too seriously. If some far-out classic dude says that Zappa is bullshit, I don't take it seriously either.

Secondly: My approach to jazz is somehow similar to Mark's. So many of my favourite prog / fusion guys have praised Davis and Coltrane, I finally dicided that it's my duty to find out, what's so great about them. I have listened Kind of Blue maybe five times through, but I still didn't get it. But look out, Mark: I'm sure that it's not Davis's fault that I didn't get it.

I started my fan career idolizing Deep Purple, then I moved to Frank Zappa. On the way I have checked all the great prog and fusion acts of the 70's. Logically, if I want to find something else of interest, I should find it in jazz. My ears (and Mark's) are simply so accustomed to wah wah guitars, that we can't appreciate the sounds of toilet pipes called brass. When I listened to Coltrane's Visit to Scandinavia, I realised that I would piss my pants out of sheer happiness if Steve Vai or John Petrucci played exactly these lines using his rock guitar sounds. Well, Petrucci sure wouldn't play 20 minutes solo. So, it's not Coltrane's fault if I can't enjoy the noise he's making. The barrier is inside my head.

By the way, the most enjoyable and approachable era of the Davis catalogue is the early 70's, but again, that is because the format of music is closest to the one that I've learned to love. And just like Mark, I found Miles Ahead brass blasts very painful to listen to. But Zappa was also using brass blasts with his '88 band and they were very enjoyable in Zappa context. My message is that you can learn to love anything. My grandma used to say that a man can get used to keeping an icepick in his ass.

sedmundshsd@earthlink.net
mark, you're a fucking idiot. you been sucking on too many kiss albums. you wouldn't know greatness if it fucked you in the ass. the only people i know that make you look like you have some intelligence, are all those stupid bastards who tried to reason with about this album.

Olof.Oberg@acreo.se
Someone here wrote: "If you dont' fucking get jazz, DON'T FUCKING REVIEW IT! Stick to your obscure punk bands and classic rock'n'roll artists, but don't berate a style of music you don't truly understand!"

Well, a review is supposed to be helpful, right? At least I believe that s what most people think. Now, if you re a Jesus Lizard fan or something and for some reason is curious about jazz music, i doubt that really in-sight reviews by people who "get jazz" would be of any help. What Mark Prindle does here is declaring that he s not a jazz fan at all, he doesn t understand most jazz, but this is what he thinks of some Miles Davis records and this is what he could, as a rock n roll fan, enjoy. Personally, I listen to music because it s enjoyable, and I d much rather start my jazz excursion with something that I might enjoy easily than with something considered a "classic" that I might need an advanced education to understand. (I m not necessarily referring to this record.)

What I m trying to say is that these Miles Davis reviews are exactly the way they should be at a rock n roll review site. Reading Mark s reviews could help you find something you might like without "understanding" jazz. When you start really getting into the music, you should of course start reading "serious" reviews at a jazz fan site instead, but it takes some time to get into jazz (as with rock n roll, classical music, hip-hop, death metal etc). You don t usually start with late Coltrane records.

All this said, Kind of blue is often considered THE classic (like, people write BOOKS about it!!) but it doesn t give me half as much as most of the Coltrane records from about 1960-65 do. I like Bitches brew but mostly I find Miles Davis records, including this one, OK but a bit boring. But I m not a jazz "fan" either, I just enjoy good music (including some jazz)...

glenn.lester@hope.edu
Mark, I think I met the asshole who wrote the Kind Of Blue book. A couple weekends ago, at the International Association for Jazz Education bigass conference in Toronto, I was hanging out by the Da Capo books table in the merch room. I'm flipping through books by Gary Giddins and Bob Blumenthal and whatever, and I see a book called something like The Making Of Kind Of Blue. So I thinks to meself, "Hey, I betcha this is the book by that asshole Prindle was talking about on his Miles page!" I look through it, searching for some assholic sentences and whatnot; it gets boring real quick, so I pick up something else. Then this guy walks up behind the counter and gives the guy manning the booth a high-five. "What's up, ______," says the guy. "What's up, Ashley," says the clerk. Ashley proceeds to ask the guy about how the booth is doing, whether they're selling many books, etcet. I glance at the title to the Kind Of Blue book, and IT'S WRITTEN BY SOME DUDE WHO'S FIRST NAME IS ASHLEY. "Holy shit, THIS guy is the asshole Prindle spoke of! This is fucked up! Should I confront the bastard like the web-music-review geek I am, and say 'Hey fucker, why were you such a dick to Mark Prindle??!!!???'" And I don't say anything. Then Ashley pats me on the shoulder and says, "Hey man, good book. If I may, this one is pretty decent too." He picks up the Kind Of Blue book (which he wrote) and peeks into it with a thoroughly loving and idiotic look on his face. He and the clerk share a laugh; I sit there silent, thinking of something biting and sardonic to say, but say nothing. This Ashley guy laughs and again and takes off, and I do too.

Is this the same guy?

benac@voyager.net (Eric Benac)
i don't really like jazz either mark. i had this album, the first jazz album i had and it's kind of dull. plus, these people who get so "offended" by mark's dislike of the jazz musicians need to grow up. why let some guy you don't even know bother you? I love peter gabriel, mark has made several biting remarks about him in different reviews. do i care? no because mark, like you, has the right to hate or love whatever he wants. so just because you think every note miles davis ever blew out of his trumpet is genius, and that it's offensive that so mebody else doesn't bow down to that belief then you're way out of line: not only are you being hypocritical, you're pushing your own opinion onto mark, an opinion he doesn't want.

knowstev@med.umich.edu (Steven Knowlton)
Have you checked out the Amazon review's of Ashley's book?

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0306810670/ref=cm_cr_dp_2_1/104-4450004-4699168?v=glance&s=books&vi=customer-reviewsl

I think you'll especially enjoy Jerry Engelbach and das hans president.

galleyian@mac.com (Ian Galley)
FirstofallI'dliketolarifymyseeminglyshitekeyoardskilswiththefatthatIspli tawhilefukingottleofeeroermykeyoardandithasfukedup,aleitslightly.Ihaeyet touyareplaement.

MykeyoardisFUKED.

IhaetosayIfindtheauseyou'eolletedonthispagetiklesmetotheone.Idolikeja,ut it'sdefinatelyaformestappreiatedlie.Espeiallyinasmallpuwhereyouansit rightnettothedrummer.

ThisistheonlyMilesDaisalumIhaeand,whilstitisrelaing,Idon'tfinditasamaing asyou'reledtoeliee.

Itisgood,utitdoes'npossesmetotheetentIWANTtolistentoit.

utJAisn'tallshit.Asaformit'saeautifulapproahtomakingmusi.

MyfaoutieisharlesMingus.

MINGUS.

ASSPLAYER.

reommended:MINGUSTHREE.

Salute,omrade!

preludetoakissx@hotmail.com (Jaclyn Pacia)
hi. i was wondering if you could suggest any artists that have the same calming effect as miles davis has with pieces like kind of blue or blue in green. i would like to hear more. thanks.

thepublicimage79@hotmail.com (Mike Noto)
No. You cannot get away with giving "Kind of Blue" a 4. You just can't.

ddickson@rice.edu
AAAAAAH!! George Starostin looks just like ME! JEEPERS!! Except he has a ponytail. That, and I can't speak foreign languages because I'm a goddamn visual learner. Me and my complexes.

Ungh? Say what? Kind of Blow gets a 4? Hurm. I guess that's what happens when you review his albums in chronological order. Me, I, just like ninety- nine point one hundred percent of rock fans out there who want to look all "cool," "collegey," and "frat dog" by having ONE JAZZ ALBUM IN THEIR COLLECTION, have only heard this one. And I think I like it. It either gets an 8.5 or a 9.

See, here's the thing about this album, Prindle. In order to be able to tolerate it, let alone like it, you can't treat it as background music, even though it IS stereotypical B.M. (British Metroleum). You've got to concentrate on it with all thy might, otherwise it sounds like a bunch of boring asshole music for jerks that suck. That's how it sounded the first time I heard it three years ago, when my roommate put it on and nearly ruined my grade in Soviet Politics by causing me to fall asleep on my keyboard in the middle of the fuckin' mid-term. That, and the first two tracks are kinda unimpressive--just snappy lil' bore jazz. It's only when you get to track three that the EMOTION of Cool Blue Miles Brew from Nefer's Titties washes over you. Yessir, tracks 3 and 5 are the essence of this album. Cool calm minimalistically brilliant ambient tracks. VERRRY ummmm.

So that's it. Great album, but for the love of God, there's got to be better jazz than this out there. This CAN'T be the best jazz album ever, can it? Say! I wonder how many people flamed you THIS time!! Let's see. . .

Mmm, not that many. That's the thing aboot jazz fans--they're cool and blue as a cookin' steamin' bag's groove. That was not funny.

someonesasucker@gmail.com
It's boggling to me that so maný people are offended by your thoughts on such a well recieved and revered record. It's absolutely insane. Gor example: i love the velvet underground. Each of their records holds a special place in my skull's mantle. I am in no way upset over your opinion about their work. How could i be? Does your strong dislike of the velvet underground affect my love of them? No. I (to take rank in the many) love "kind of blue". I,absolutely, enjoyed your review. I've been checking your site for six years and only felt obligated now, when drunk and reading your Davis reviews for the third or fourth time (in order to avoid the eyelines of certain primitive manchildren), to comment. I love this record, though I think it says something that i learned to love it by putting it on when i went to bed night after night.

Laureano Lopez
I'm reading this in order and it's pretty strange that you, precisely you, like Sketches of Spain (which you "should" hate as much as Miles Ahead) more than Kind of Blue, but well... everything's fuckin possible.

I loved this album for some time. I still listen to parts of it once in a while. I just don't think of it as a "work". It's like a reference book. Like a manual, on melody. Not on themes, or hooks, but long, elastic, continuous melody. I've listened to it an horrendous amount of times, some of them in a pretty analytic mood, and I got a lot from it. Melody-wise, it's "perfect". Perfection, in that sense, _is_ boring. Even _melody in this sense is boring_. The album doesn't feature anything else than that: three styles of long, continuous, perfect melody; the bass is almost unhearable. They don't even _try_ to make any other kind of thing, or anything with them. It's just the melody. That's why I can't think of this as a "work": I can't love this much more than I would love an entire disc filled with gregorian chant, even if it were the Greatest Hits of 950 AD sung by the Toes of God Theirselves (ok, I'm overstating).

The clearest case is the beginning of All Blues, one of the most haunting, hazy beginnings I have memory of. When the soloing starts, the mood -the idea, I would say- is destroyed. All they had stated with the long low notes on muted horns and the brushed snare dies like a fuckin parrot with psittacosis with the first note of soloing. But again, that _was the point_. It actually had some specific sense in that moment to do an album like this one, as much as five years ago it had some sense for me to find it, overlisten to it, love it, get as much as I could from it, and then leave it. I find pointless to waste my time complaining of the obvious.

That said... how can't you like Blue in Green? I mean, it's the exception of the album: it's short, the soloing is _almost_ hooky, it has the most beautiful piano ending ever (overstating again). I've used it for sex, and it kinda works. Sadly, it puts me in a georgeclooney-ish attitude that doesn't really fit me. I have to work on that.

Add your thoughts?


Sketches Of Spain - Columbia 1960.
Rating = 5

Side one is among the dullest classical music I will ever have heard after my life has reached its closure (which could be tomorrow for all I know, what with that Baretta guy gunning people down left and right), but side two is spaghetti western music! Three originals by Gil Evans (yep, it's another Gil Evans album, but luckily there's none of those big band blasts of high-end bleeting that I so despise) take Miles into Clint Eastwood territory - NO NO, I DON'T MEAN DIRTY HARRY OR THAT HILARIOUS CHARACTER HE PLAYED IN IN THE LINE OF FIRE!!!! OH GOD I'VE RUINED THE WHOLE REVIEW NOW!!!!

Reader Comments

Michael.Nehl@GTECH.COM
Every negative point made by Mark and the various respondents concerning Jazz is true. But, then again, so are all of the positive comments! (But, couldn't that be said about any genre of music?) It took me years to warm-up to Mr. Davis and to Jazz in general. I bought Milestones 15? years ago (actually I believe I got it "free" from the Columbia House Record Club as one of my 10 choices when I agreed to buy "just 7 more CD's in the next two years"). I listened to it once and then put it aside until this year. I knew I was supposed to dig Miles (everybody told me I should), but I guess I just wasn't ready for his music at the time...

But, I purchased Sketches of Spain about 6 months back and loved it! I've always had a soft spot for Spanish-tinged music and this CD didn't disappoint me. I've since acquired six more Miles CD's and will definitely buy more.

My favorite is Bitchs Brew (I got the box set for only 10 bucks more than the 2 CD set). I place it right up there with Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Gang of Four's Entertainment, and Huayucaltia's Caminos as the most eye opening music that I've ever heard. The night that I first threw it on I sat listening to it with headphones alternately laughing hysterically and tearing up from the utter brazen glory of the sounds I was hearing (what a wuss!).

I also really enjoy Miles' Kind of Blue, On the Corner and Miles Davis at Fillmore. Not so much 'Round About Midnight or Porgy and Bess (although I do like his version of Summertime).

I must also concur with RunsHisWordsTogetherGuy that Charles Mingus is the hip! I currently own Blues & Roots and Mingus Ah Um. They are both excellent and would be a great starting point for anyone trying to expand their tastes into Jazz. They have very little of that sameness quality that many people like to assign to Jazz music; each song is quite different...

I only hope that when Mark is old and decrepit and most of his high-range hearing is gone that he doesn't regret writing these Miles reviews (with any luck dementia will take him first).

Well, I think I'll go throw on my lounge jacket and fire up my pipe and listen to some Charlie Parker (being the presumptuous wanker that I am...)

ddickso2@uccs.edu
ALright, NOW you're just being contrarian on purpose.

Side one dull, the other side as good as Clint Eastwood? Huh??? Just the opposite, I'd say. Maybe it's because I (by coincidence) heard side one about a billion times before I got the album. But like I said, I've seen a buttload of '50's movies lately.

Great goddamn first song--sad, ethnic-like, and jazzy all at once. The rest of the album doesn't do much for me, but it's at least interesting and cinematic or something. Overall, I think Miles does better in a small setting. I give this an 8 because I'm on a Segio Leone kick lately. Also, I'm wired.

Add your thoughts?


Someday My Prince Will Come - Columbia 1961
Rating = 3

2005 - In 1961, on the eve of The Beatles' mighty success, Miles Davis gathered together pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, saxophonist Hank Mobley and drummers Jimmy Cobb and Philly Jo Jones to create a sort of "Jazz Fab Four" of his own. To battle the forces of "We Can Work It Out" and "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" that would soon envelope the Western World in a fever of 'BeatleManicness,' Miles and his motley crue of thugs and salesmen laid down six wicked tracks of hard bop layered beneath a shiny white sheet of really fucking loud, crude, uglyass trumpet playing. Are you people absolutely CERTAIN that Miles didn't play his horn with his ass? These out-of-tune, weak "pfff-ARP"s and "bEEEP-bEEEEP"s are near-perfect imitations of intestinal gas.

Thus, my 5000-page dissertation arguing that Miles Davis put one over on the American people, using a magic marker to draw a face on his buttcheeks every night before shoving his trumpet up his ass and performing the latest hits. What's that? You want to know if I have proof? Well, it depends on what you mean by proof. If you mean do I have Miles Davis's corpse in my living room with a trumpet sticking out of its ass, then yes, I have proof. Otherwise, no.

To be fair, I gotta give a hand to the saxophone players on this album (Coltrane plays on a couple) - their parts are very easy on the ears: full-bodied and cool. But Miles? Yikes! Maybe the problem isn't his lack of talent but just the fact that the trumpet is a grotesque, unlistenable instrument. Having never played one, I should probably give ol' MD the benefit of the doubt. Lord knows that time I tried to play a trombone was no walk through the picnic!

Still, far too much of this album is spent on dirt-slow yawners undermined by loud trumpet noise. As I stated out loud to my wife, "It's hard to make your ballad romantic when there's a Klaxon-like trumpet blasting 8000 times louder than everything else." But there are one or two winners (one, to be exact): the 9 1/2-minute "Teo" features a fun 3/4 time signature, a witty Coltrane solo that keeps bouncing back and forth between long, held-out notes and ludicrously fast runs up and down the neck (if you call it a neck -- on a guitar you do, and that's a REAL instrument), evocative dramatic piano chords and nice crisp drums pishin' and kackin' along. And I suppose the superfast and wildly groovy "Blues No. 2" has its moments as well -- one of Miles' very few excellent solos (it sounds like it's telling a little story!), stimulating drum breaks galore, and a bonus-ass piece of trumpet/sax call-and-response interplay at the coda. The song's too long though.

Otherwise, if you for some reason want to purchase this nightmare, be sure to bring a book and some earplugs.

Reader Comments

adenning@adriandenning.co.uk
Hey Mark, these latest batch of reviews are some of the funniest things i've ever read in my entire life, and i've read the lyric sheets to several Phil Collins solo albums!!!

Ah, place this comment under 'Someday My Prince Will Come', specifically because i've never heard it before in my entire life.

Add your thoughts?


Quiet Nights - Columbia 1962
Rating = 1

2005 - Okay let's get something straight -- there is nothing "cool" about "Cool Jazz." In a correct world, it would be termed "Amazingly, Even More Boring Than Usual Jazz." It's slow, first of all, which is the first sign of death in most cultures. Secondly, nothing ever happens. The musicians toot and blow, but they'd might as well be doing it to some sweet cocaine for all the aural excitement they're generating. Thirdly, it's old people music. There is NO WAY you can listen to something like Quiet Nights without thinking to yourself, "Jeez, this is my father's music." (Unless you're your father, in which case it'll make you feel right at home as you fuck your mother.) Have you heard of "Exotica"? An insipid, conservative form of 50s escapist music that was brought into underground vogue during the mid-80s by Angela Juno, Boyd Rice and other arrogant elitist pricks of the day? Well, that's what this album sounds like. Like the finest works of Martin Denny and The Three Suns, this is not music -- it's SCHMALTZ. Christ! Where are the melodies!? It's even dull as background music!

Quiet Nights is another orchestral "1001 Horns" jazz record conducted by Gilly Evans, but it doesn't hold a carouselambra to the not-half-badness of Porgy And Bess. Instead, this batch of poop penned by Davis, Evans, Eddie Barclay, Michel LeGrand, Eddy Marnay, Johnny Mercer, Pedro Goncalves, Marino Pinto, Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Al Dubin and Harry Warren during a marathon session at Abbey Road is kitschy, devoid of a single hook, and so slow that even a nap-taking hare could beat it (and believe me, he would be napping. Probably by the middle of track two). The drummy person(s) is tapping on tabla or bongos or some ethnic rhythm crap, the songs are full of gross multi-horn disharmonies, and Miles turns in his usual slobbery shit performance. I'll admit that "Aos Pes Da Cruz" kinda makes me feel good inside with its light relaxed Mexican feel, but come on - it's Herb Alpert nonsense and you know it!

Oh hang on - I just got an email from Overbooks V. Beverage. Wow! It's a fantastic deal on Cialis Softtabs! Thanks for forwarding this, Mr. Beverage! So long, "Fingers Secretly Disguised As A Functioning Penis"! See ya later, "Condoms Secretly Filled With A Translucent Salt/Syrup Mixture"! Catch you on the flip side, "Homeless Man's Semen Secretly Injected Into My Wife's Vagina On A Semi-Annual Basis to Create Our Four Children"!

Which brings us back to "Cool Jazz." "Cool"? More like "DOOL!" (dull) One of the songs even has a harp in it, for Christ's sake. Was he high on PCP and hallucinating that he was in Heaven or something? Dude, I've been to Heaven and it sounds like the first DRI album, not this shizzizzatizza. Can you imagine St. Peter at the Pearly Gates trying to sit through "Once Upon A Summertime" or "Wait Til You See Her"? Christ, no wonder he sends all black people to Hell!

Add your thoughts?


Seven Steps To Heaven - Columbia 1963
Rating = 3

And Nine Levels of Hell. TURN THAT GODDAMNED TRUMPET DOWN! Sax? Sure, lovely low noise. Bass? Groovin' along, happy as day. Drums pippity-pippin'. Piano lazily making me feel like I'm in waiting room at the dentist's office (which i LOVE). But then that awful BRAPPING QUUUUUUEEEEEEKING trumpet comes in and destroys any possible sense of melodicism, beauty or restfulness that may have existed prior. He always sounds like the trumpet is about to fall out of his mouth! Every first note is blown to shit, and he clearly has no idea how far to stand from the microphone before blowing (and i DO mean "blowing") into that shit-covered toilet plunger he has the nerve to call a "musical instrument."

More specifically, the album features three romantic slow songs and three fun high-speed runarounds. Or two, at any rate. I mean, I like "So Near So Far" a lot. And the title track isn't TOO bad. Victor Feldman - OOOOH!!! HERBIE HANCOCK PLAYED ON THIS!!!! George Coleman on the groovy tenor sax. Frank Butler and Anthony Williams getting in fistfights over who gets to drum. Ron Carter thumpin' the bass. And Miles Davis at the helm, wrongly believing that a performer's first responsibility is to himself and not to critics. What he doesn't realize is that the only reason music exists is to be criticized. That's what makes it "art"!

And that's what makes HIS art "shit"!

Add your thoughts?


My Funny Valentine - Columbia 1964
Rating = 2

2005 - After topping the alternative charts with 1991's saddy Loveless, Kevin Shields took a well-deserved hiatus before going slowly insa

After topping his preservative tarts with 1000's of Daddy Longlegs, Miles Davis took a much-appreciated shower before going quickly to a NAACP-sponsored benefit concert being held at the NYC Philharmonic to raise awareness of and money for voter registration efforts in Mississippi and Louisiana. No no, don't worry about the state of America -- this was actually in February 1964! Luckily, many things have changed over the past four decades, and lower-class African-Americans no longer run into any problems when visiting the voting booths. "God bless President Bush and God bless the United States of America!" - Johnny Ramone.

Another slow excursion into the Cool Jazz genre, this five-song LP conjoins Miles with future Mork And Mindy funnyman Tony Williams, future U.S. president Ron Carter, ex-founding father Herbie Hancock and future low-fat grill George Coleman for a wild, woolly tedium jamboree and characterless goodtime jubilee. If you're seeking a cure for your insomnia, the moss-backed tempos and deathless improvisations found herein will give any OTC pharmaceutical a run for its cashola. Otherwise, might I recommend getting out a blank cassette and making yourself a 35-second 'mix tape' of every interesting passage that is performed during what at least one amateur music critic has dubbed "A Brutal, Homicidal Hour Of Music." And that amateur music critic is none other than Mar

velously correct in his observation. Here are a few My Funny Valentine riddles so you can spend a happy day with your family:

Q. What do "I Thought About You" and Bill Cosby have in common?
A. A whole lotta fuckin' around!

Q. What do "All Blues" and a Catholic-made condom have in common?
A. They both wear thin after the first minute!

Q. What do "Stella By Starlight" and the 1992 White Sox have in common?
A. A disappointing Sax performance!

Q. What do "All Of You" and Tom Cruise have in common?
A. If you encounter one of them, you're probably about to get a cavity filled!

Q. What do "My Funny Valentine" and Lindsay Lohan have in common?
Q. They both start off quite lovely before suddenly devolving into a depressing mixture of boring self-obsession and cocaine-fuelled ugliness!

If you have 63 minutes of free time, build a cat or something; don't waste it on My Funny Valentine.

Unless you're talking about Animals II guitarist Hilton Valentine of course! After all, who needs Eric Burdon or Alan Price when you've got a "II" at the end of your name?

Oh, I'm just poking fun at Mr. Valentine. I'm sure Animals II are fine. Can't be much worse than The Black-Man's Burdon, at any rate. "Say! You know that timeless Moody Blues ballad 'Nights In White Satin'? Well, how about... we make it SUCK really bad?"

"No no, wait. I've got a better idea. How about... we make it suck really bad... TWICE?"

That was my impression of the planning sessions for The Black-Man's Burdon. It's copyrighted so don't try any bullshit.

Reader Comments

milk345@stanford.edu
"2005 - After topping the alternative charts with 1991's saddy Loveless, Kevin Shields took a well-deserved hiatus before going slowly insa"

Prindle,

Thank you for being so fucking predictable. You could not only smell the rating you would give (wouldn't you) to a Miles Davis work a mile away, but on this particular one, you could also pick up the scent of an obvious MBV reference well before reading the review. It's no wonder close minded jerks who are no longer looking to expand their musical tastes and ideologies, losers like myself who would rather be served their own ideas instead of something challenging and worthwhile, keep coming back to your site year after year.

Reading your site feels so good. It's masturbation

hlim4043@bigpond.net.au
This is insane. How can a masterpiece of improvisation like “My Funny Valentine” get TWO STARS???

Add your thoughts?


E.S.P. - Columbia 1965
Rating = 4

2005 - One fine day in 1965, a new Miles Davis Quintet was borne from the ashes (or "aske") of the old. First, saxophonist Wayne Shorter ran up to Miles in a busy intersection and shouted, "Yo Miles! I play the hangy-dick-horn!" Next, hog-pianist Herbie Hancock of "Rockit" fame did five backflips across Miles' lawn before greeting him with an enthusiastic "I tickle the ivories - and ladies' butts!" Third but not least, bassist Ron Carter drove by on his miniscooter and screamed against the Doppler Effect, "I PLAY THE BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-" And last and believe me, DEFINITELY least, (unless you go by talent), drummer Tony Williams said, "Let's form a band."

And WOW, what a band! (That was just me being nice; I don't really think they were all that great a band) I mean holy SHIT what a band! All I needed was a band to lend a guiding hand. But they turned into a quintet and shintet! what a quintet - they wore me out! All they did was wreck my stereo, and in the morning kick me in the derrie-o. Oh Miles, I couldn't have tried anymore. You made a first-class fool out of me. And I'm as deaf as a fool could be. Your music sucked, and that's a pain I can do without! (mandolin riff) MILES! I WISH I'D... NEEEEVER HEARD YOUR HORN!

Wow, these hilarious "Weird Al" Yankovic-like parodies write themselves! No wonder it seems like he never puts any effort into it!

Do you believe in E.S.P.? I do. Because I own it. In fact, I don't just own it -- I BONE it!!!! (insert photo of self ramming cock through album, preferably the actual vinyl portion and not the hole) This album is hard bop but, according to All-Music Guide -- where you might want to look if you're interested in what a (*chuckles with superiority*) JAZZ FAN (*makes masturbation motion with all three hands*) has to say about the Miles Davis discography -- it's also the beginning of Miles' avant-garde period, which would find him trying weirder and wilder experiments before inventing fusion and, by association, grindcore.

It feels like even the "melodies" this time are totally just made up crap thrown together on the spur of the moment. VERY loose constructions abound, usually with a tiny little "sax and trumpet together" bit at the beginning and end to make you think you're listening to actual songwriting. I'll tell you something about jazz. I suspect that some people are into it for its "free" "improvisational" nature, wherein you never know what's going to happen next. And I'll agree with that assessment - unlike formulaic pop/rock verse-chorus constructions, jazz allows the musicians to flow free and come up with any crazy thing their hearts desire. However -- did you ever notice that, no matter what direction they take a song in... it always ends up sounding EXACTLY THE SAME AS EVERY OTHER JAZZ SONG EVER RECORDED?!?!?!? "Hey check this out! I'm totally playing a bunch of notes over a piano playing some jazz chords and a bass player walking up and down his neck! Okay, I've done it for a couple of minutes -- now it's YOUR turn, person who plays a different type of horn!" With this kind of excitement, who needs tits?

But it can work sometimes. If at least ONE instrument is holding down the fort with some sort of interesting repetitive grounding, then the "wild off in space" playing of the other guys can actually sound kinda cool in context. To my unseasoned ears, there are two examples of such "Wow! This actually WORKS!" performances on E.S.P.N. -- "Eighty-One" and "R.J." I know that one of my favorite readers, Chris Willie Williams, doesn't like it when I do song-by-song reviews, but I really would like to describe these two if I may, so I hope that's okay.

"Eighty-One" -- what gets me about this one are the cool "tip tip tip KASH!" drumming, the relaxed piano rhythm that strikes chords slightly AFTER the beat, and the piano chords themselves, which manage to express neither sorrow nor happiness nor anger, fear or even plain old jazziness, instead creating this ambiance of "I guess I'll just hang out here and see if anything happens." As the bass rides all over creation beneath and the two horns explore the entire world of notehood above, it all just WORKS for me. Like a game of Tempest played in a teapot, the piece is wildly experimental yet grounded to a simple repetitive thingamajig that I can thingamadig.

"R.J." - neat superfast sax intro with odd smart melody, then a fast bop song with everybody shooting baby ingredients all over each other while an approximation of a cool Birthday Party-style bass lick keeps running over to Hell for a few bars before returning to its ultra-bodily-hypnotic main riff down in the low notes. Some unique saxophone phrases pop around in the mix too, but it's the energetic drum tapping and lovable bass riff that keep my ears coming back for more. Not that I'll ever listen to it again, but if I did - WOW!

The rest of the album is a little too unstructured and amelodic to hold my interest. The book-ending tracks have some neat moments, including wheezy air-filled trumpet blows, great up-down multiple-horn speedwork, and some pleasant alternating bass/piano "1-2"s in the song "Mood." (If the actual musical term is "1-2"s.) (If not, I fuckin' hate 'em.) The three remaining tracks are comprised of (a) two slow boring things that resemble ballads in that they're slow, yet don't actually evoke any kind of mood other than "slow," and (b) one aggressive as hell but worthless bunch of incorrect notes, wrong methods of playing, and sorely poor performances by five untalented hack musicians who fooled an entire nation into thinking they were actually capable of creating something less shitty than "Rockit" and a Cyndi Lauper cover. Wrong again, Jazz Nation!

Reader Comments

themightygreegor@gmail.com
I have a new email address! Someone invited me to get a gmail account, so I feel special.

I was reading some of the Miles Davis stuff, particularly with interest for the "asshole" non-jazz guy comments you made. I still have a ways to go - I've mostly just read the reader's comments. I've been at work all day. I haven't got around to exploring that page on my off time, but I'll get to it. Anyway, this all reminds me of a great Frank Zappa quote that you might appriciate:
"Jazz is not dead; it just smells funny."

That's all. Carry on.

patkellymusic@fuse.net
Your comments are very amusing. You remind me of a couple of friends that I used to have - before they died. It's like listening to infuriating, stupid, loudmouth conservative talk radio guys. I love to hate 'em. Keep it up. I always thought that rock 'n roll guys took themselves way too seriously. You're off the charts. I'm a fan now. Thanks!

ddickso2@uccs.edu
Never heard this one; don't intend to. But if it's anything comparable to its mid-Sixties cousin Miles Smiles, it's 6-worthy. That album's still rhythmic and traditionally "jazzbo"-like in its flow, but melodically, it's full of chords that make no sense, and the solos have nothing to do with anything. It WAS the Sixties, I suppose--they had to do something rather cracked.

And that's all the Miles Davis listening I will ever do again ever. Conclusion: Miles is wonderful when he rushes his recording sessions and does a bunch of covers. When he becomes experimental and "groundbreak-like," he ranges from merely decent to losing me. And I like Kind Of Blue, Bitches Brew, and Birth of the Cool less and less every year.

But Workin', man. STEAMIN'. Still classy after all these months. I'm a biased motherfucker. Get those instead of the elitism standards.

Say Mark! Do you have Mingus? I just listened to his "Ah Um" album. It has an actual catchy melody on EVERY TRACK. Recommended for non-jazzbos!

Eh, knowing you, you'd probably give it a 6.

Add your thoughts?


Miles Smiles - Columbia 1967
Rating = 3

2011 - Well, that makes ONE of us!!!

(One of us who smiles, not one of us 2011s.)

In his book Black Monk Time, former Monks bassist Eddie Shaw describes Bebop as "the sound of Scrabble with all the vowels missing, played by musical skateboarders" and discusses the joys of "filling in the missing musical links." Could this be why it bores me so? Because I'm looking for melody where there isn't even supposed to be any? Another problem might be that I've never heard bad jazz performers. So as I listen to these guys belt out runs of notes at 400 million miles an hour, I have nothing to compare it to. Maybe a bit of contrast would help me to appreciate the talent required to perform this boring, tuneless shit music.

This record features Miles Davis on trumpet, Wayne Shorter on tenor saxophone, Herbie Hancock of "Rockit" fame on piano, Ron Carter on double bass and Tony Williams on drums. It features no hooks at all. Just solo after solo after solo. Six tracks are performed: two by Davis, two by Shorter, one by tenor saxophonist Eddie Harris and one by saxophonist Jimmy Heath -- although how exactly they attribute a bunch of random trumpet notes to an outside songwriter is beyond me. In fact, while we're speaking of "Scrabble with all the vowels missing," THS RCRD SCKS SHT!

However, don't let anybody tell you that this record sucks shit because, although it definitely socks shoot, it does include a few pieces of wisdom that warrant discussion here on a Sunday (The Lord's Black Sabbath Day):

ONE. "Footprints" features a dark groovy bass line and sax/trumpet harmony. On the minus side, it also drags on for 22,000 days.

TWO. "Dolores" is completely tuneless, but holy SHORTS are they playing fast!

THREE. "Freedom Jazz Dance" begins with fun rolly drums and a wild sax/trumpet lick, and continues with weird piano chords and rhythmic soloing. Unfortunately, it also drags on for 22,000 days.

It's not a lot; it's all you've got: 22,000 days. Do you really want to spend your entire life listening to a single Miles Davis song?

In conclusion, I'm told that "Circle" is 'beautiful,' but to my rock-ruined ears, it's completely unfocusable-on in its all-over-the-placeness. Plus, it's a ballad. And if there's one thing I hate more than a ballad, it's Russ Ballard.

In conclusion, Russ Ballard wrote Three Dog Night's "Liar"!? I didn't know that! Maybe I don't hate him after all.

Eww, never mind. He also wrote Ace Frehley's "New York Groove."

Reader Comments

Laureano Lopez
Heh, and now I get to know you hate ballads. Circle is the only reason I come back to this shitter once a year. I don't really love it, but there's something... strange about it. Good strange. As for the rest, then again, it might be "my fault": I can't stand bop. I think it's the dullest thing in the world. You can steal the idea of walking bass (very old idea anyway), then fly away to better lands.

Plus, sure Shorter isn't Charlie Parker.

Jakob Hellberg
This album is possibly the finest ''straight'' jazz-album ever made; killer solos by everyone, great compositions and killer arrangements. I don't really understand the point of reviewing dozens of albums in a genre that you even admit that you don't understand or like but that's me. I dig your site due to your love of Amrep-stuff and a good attitude towards metal but the Miles Davis page is a blemish on an otherwise good site (well, you really have no business reviewing Hip-Hop either but those reviews are stil better because you at least seem to appreciate the sounds-if you even admit that you can't stand the sound of a trumpet, wtf is the point of reviewing Miles???).

Anyway, if someone who actually likes jazz reads this, buy Miles Smiles pronto and follow it with ESP, Sorcerer and Nefertiti in that order-those are the best Miles Davis albums to a jazz-fan like me; his electric stuff sounds aimless IMO...

Add your thoughts?


Sorcerer - Columbia 1967
Rating = 6

2005 - Beep Beep Beep! It's the "Surprisingly Halfway-Decent Miles Davis Album" alert! Beep Beep Beep! Time to whip out those wallet trousers and run on down to your local ebay store to purchase an honestly not bad at all release by The Second Miles Davis Quintet! Beep Beep Beep! SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEE BLAM TEWJTKLWRTLJRKTWH

(the 'witty' 'joke' being that it wasn't a "Surprisingly Halfway-Decent Miles Davis Album" alert beeping at all, but rather the horn of an approaching car)

(we don't think it's very funny either, but as long as Mr. Hope keeps returning from the grave with new material, there's not much we can do about it.)

This time around, Miles and gang bring you a hearty and diverse collection of truly AGGRO-GRESSIVE stuff, neat as beans HYPNOTICA material, a couple tracks of excellent "moodmaking," and, as an added surprise, some trumpet solos! Seven songs long, this forward-looking release and my inability to describe a jazz album as a whole due to a serious lack of knowledge on my part demand that I briefly describe each track for you. In so doing, I want you to try to gauge whether the LP might be of interest to you. That's my intention.

"Prince Of Darkness" - Although a godawful Alice Cooper song, "Prince of Darkness" is here driven along by a speedy rhythm, an oft-recurring sax/trumpet riff that pulls you in and sticks you there, and an almost surf-drummy level of aggression in the percussionwork. Man, I dig this drummer guy. He just has a great sound! Just constantly tif-tif-tiffin' away over there in the left speaker, then smackin' the shit out of the snare during the louder passages. Reminds me of Bill Bruford for absolutely no reason at all. Is Tony Williams considered to be a good jazz drummer? I hope so, because he's usually my favorite part of these songs! He just really keeps it moving and then suddenly throws in these awesomely reverbed "THUMP-THUMP-THUMP-SMASH-SMASH-SMASH!" breaks that make you feel like you're totally rockin' out instead of listening to old bag music. Excellent song that slows down only for a piano solo.

"Pee Wee" - Less a song than a "mood". A slow, atonal, smoky bar, hopeless, depressed, fatigued "mood". If you're in the right "mood" for it, it makes for GREAT "mood" music. But if you're in the wrong "mood," you may want to listen to the "Mood"y blues instead. Or watch a movie with lots of "Mood" women in it. Which means NOT Indiana Jones And The Temple Of "Mood"; the blonde woman never takes it (her vagina) off.

"Masqualero" - A FangoddamnedTastic nine-minute excursion of darkness, driven by a recurring bass riff that makes the whole thing feel a little on edge. Don't listen to it under a full moon. A WEREWOLF'll pop out!

"The Sorcerer" - Fast as shit but nothing interesting happens. Kinda like the Olsen Twins. ZING!

Sorry about that. Just doing a shout-out to Steve Zing, former drummer for Samhain. Keep it rockin', Steve!

"Limbo" - Da da da da limbo rock! Da da da da limbo rock! Da da da da limbo rock! Da da da da limbo rock! Da da da da limbo rock! Da da da da limbo rock! Da da da da limbo rock! Da da da da da da da dee! (*repeat*) That's a great song, as opposed to this Miles Davis composition which is merely passable. It's calamitous indeed with crackalackacracka drums and a couple minutes of interesting recurring trumpet runs up-up-up fast than swaying down-down-down like a leaf from a tree or drunkard from a hot air balloon. Unfortunately the other solos are so non-descript, the dictionary offers no descriptor sufficiently non-descriptive to apply to them. Actually, can "Christ, shut the fuck up you pricks" be used as an adjective? If not, let's party!

"Vonetta" - Vonetta. Sweet Vonetta Fart, she thought she was a cleaner, but she was a frying pan. Picks for the fingers, good? Also, it's slow, ugly and boring. Except it gets interesting after a while when you realize that the trumpet and sax sorta ARE following the piano, but just way OFF, coming back to it only on key chords. The trumpo and Saxo Calrissian play a recurring depressed motif together too. Hell, there's even some marching beats in here! How can you call this song "slow, ugly and boring"? Are you HIGH!?! On The Devil's Weed!?! Which was created by The Devil!?! Unlike tobacco, which was created by God!?!

"Nothing Like You" - Speedy with GAYASS vocals!!! Seriously! This one's from 1962, and features some Southern white male vocalist who sounds fruitier than an apple that fucks oranges up the turd machine! Hilarious! Fantastic! And only two minutes long, so it's a rule! What a great ending to the album!!! It's like the ending of Apocalypse Now when Charlie Sheen murders Mistah Kurtz and that terrible Doors song comes on! Just a GREAT ending! You'll be laughing at its Dr. Demento-stylized qualities for a fortnight! GOD, you will! HA! Listen to this fuckin' guy sing! And I thought I was gay!

So as you can see, there are many Miles Davis albums, but most of them suck shit through a really long flexible straw extended down the toilet bowl pipes into the sewer, so it's a gas to run across a batch of honestly intelligent instrumental interplay like that found on this one. No matter what you're after - speed, malaise, hooks, improvisation, early bop, wildass Keith Moon-style drumming - you'll find it here on Sorcerer. That's why I gave it a 6 out of 10! That means "Pretty Good/Above Average"! Way to go, Miles Davis!

Reader Comments

mong10@yahoo.com
the ultra "gayass" vocals on Sorcerer's "nothing like you" are by bob dorough, who was one of the original songwriters of Schoolhouse Rock, immortalized on such classics as "zero, my hero", "the shot heard round the world", and "Lolly Lolly Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here". If this influences you to reduce the original score you gave for Sorcerer, please take into account that "3 is a Magic Number" BURIES most of Miles' output (at least through 1965).

Also, you're nuts, most of Miles' output between 1965-1972 is untouchable. Except by Schoolhouse Rock: I can hum a few scant Miles melodies, but still know the Preamble.

mikehawk797@gmail.com
A werewolf'll pop out!
A werewolf will pop out?
No! A werewolf'll pop out!

I just wanted to say that I really like what you're doing with this page. Slaughtering rock sacred cows is nothing new, but as far as I know, no one has done it, or done it this viciously, to jazz sacred cows, like Miles Davis. I think it's about time that someone said gratuitously offensive things Davis and jazz in general. Is it just me, or do many jazz fans take their music way too seriously? Critics do the same thing: no one wants to say anything bad about Miles Davis, or refer to is as "dentist's office music," just because he has attained this status of being one of those artists that you just have to pay respects to. You, on the other hand, boldly ignored all of that to make this senselessly vulgar, profane, offsensive, and above all honest page, and it is one of the finest examples of music criticism that I have ever read. Thanks for kicking so much ass.

Add your thoughts?


Nefertiti - Columbia 1967
Rating = 3

2005 - Maybe you're a butt man, but I loves me some Nefer Titties! That would be hilarious if this album were actually any good. Instead it's just a non-truth. Characterized by some as hard bop, others as post-bop, some as modal music and others as modern creative jazz, Nefertiti features six songs, three of which wouldn't recognize a melody if it were the size of a house. "What's that catchy, musical thing that's the size of a house?" these songs would ask. "Hmm, it's got harmonies, repetition, riffs, hooks -- is it a typewriter?" But they'd be wrong. Because the correct answer is "A melody." But try convincing these three songs of that. Good luck. You'd might as well just stay here with me, staring at the hot black Nefer Titties all over the Sperm Channel.

Wayne Shorter, saxophonist, is a man who understands the actualities of creating a SONG. He is credited with three of the compositions on this record, and all three are about as full-on melodic from beginning to end as you'll find on any Miles Davis album. The awesome title track drags a sick, depressed, let's kill ourselves mopey downward riff into the muck of an alley as the sax and trumpet play it in different keys over and over and over again for eight minutes, to the point where the horns begin lagging behind each other on the changes, creating a delay/echo-style siren effect of hopeless small town doldrums. GREAT GODDAMNED SONG!!! "Fall" (my favorite band) is another terrific ACTUAL SONG, carrying forth with the lackadaisacal down-in-the-dumps feel of "Nefertiti" in a less obviously melodic way, but with plenty of repetition, specifically of a sweet lick that the trumpet and sax keep coming together for. If you're "all about" gloomy-sounding jazz music, these two songs are made for your alley!

Unfortunately the next three tracks are hideous, each beginning with maybe 20 seconds of melody before devolving into snappy, fast-paced fuckin' SOLOING SOLOING SOLOING over NOTHING INTERESTING AT ALL for up to NINE MINUTES AT A TIME. Have you ever put your hand on a hot stove and held it there for nine minutes? I bet you ten dollars that that's what the producer of this record (if not the Spirit of Music itself) was doing as the Quintet laid down these soul-numbing piles of unlistenable show-offy garbage.

The final track (Shorter's third songwriting credit) actually DOES have a melody; I just don't happen to like it. It's too "jazzy"! If you're gonna write "jazzy" crap, go play for Steely Dan, not the Dave Clark Five. Did he honestly think "Pinocchio" would fit alongside such British Invasion classics as "Over And Over," "I Like It Like That," "Bits And Pieces," "Glad All Over," "Because," "Everybody Knows," "Any Way You Want It," "Catch Us If You Can," "Do You Love Me," "Move On," "All Of The Time," "Stay," "Chaquita," "I Know You," "No Time To Lose," "Doo Dah," "She's All Mine," "Time," "Theme Without A Name," "I Need You, I Love You," "Forever And A Day," "Give Me Love," "I Can't Stand It," "I'm Left Without You," "Crying Over You," "Say You Want Me," "When," "Don't You Know," "To Me," "It's Not True," "Having A Wild Weekend," "New Kind Of Love," "Dum-Dee-Dee-Dum," "I Said I Was Sorry," "The Vagina Twist," "No Stopping," "Don't Be Taken In," "When I'm Alone," "If You Come Back," "Sweet Memories," "Don't You Realize," "On The Move," "Come Home," "I'm Thinking," "Your Turn To Cry," "I Need Love," "Maybe It's You," "Pumping," "That's How Long Our Love Will Last," "A Little Bit Of Love," "I'll Be Yours My Love," "Please Love Me," "Goodbye My Friends," "She's A Loving Girl," "You Know You're Lying," "I Am On My Own," "Please Tell Me Why," "I Never Will," "Looking In," "Ever Since You've Been Away," "Scared Of Falling In Love," "Devoted To Me," "Just A Little Bit Now," "Maze Of Love," "I Still Need You" and "Return My Love"? If so, he was RIGHT! GREAT ALBUM!!! In fact, it's THREE-RIFFIC!

Reader Comments

Matt Van Ryn
If you are willing to risk losing that 9 minutes of your life again, if you dare listen to the title track again, here's how you should listen to it, and then tell me if you don't think it's kind of brilliant, if dully repetitive.

What Nefertiti does is change the typical roles of the musicians in a song. This is when Miles was in his "what is a song" phases, that was happening underneath the sonic experimentation, and changes in style.

Nefertiti takes the drums and bass, and makes them the lead instruments. All the horns play the same theme, over and over. There's not even a chorus, just the same theme, repeated and repeated and repeated by the horns, with that whining sound. It's almost as if they're taunting you with what they're playing (like he later does in the school-yard taunt sounds of "Jean Pierre").

Anyway, the horns keep repeating the same thing, providing the rhythm, while the rhythm section plays the greater variations on the original theme, so it's like the rhythm section is doing the solo'ing, while the horns vamp along, keeping time. Role reversal. I find it kind of cool, from a song structure point of view.

Add your thoughts?


Miles in the Sky - Columbia 1968
Rating = 6

2011 - Saaaaaay! This is pretty good! Featuring the very first appearance of electric piano, electric bass and electric guitar on a Miles Davis LP, Miles In The Sky also unfortunately still has Miles Davis on it.

Four long songs lengthy, the LP contains lots of complex piano chords and strange changes, which result in some extremely bizarre solos as Miles and xasohponist Wayne Shorter twist and turn in awkward directions to keep up. Tony Williams' loud crashing, drums also contribute to the rock-influenced (and therefore "good") approach.

Shorter's "Paraphernalia" is a standout, with its groovy beat, anxious jittery vibe and George Benson guitar boogaloo. Tony Williams' "Black Comedy" is also a keener with loads of deranged chord changes and insanely busy and dynamic drumming. The changes are so unorthodox, in fact, that they sound completely random if you're not listening closely enough!

Unfortunately the other two songs were written by Miles Davis. "Stuff" has a cool nighttime aura and the occasional strange chord, but spread over 17 minutes it meanders like a bend in a sinuous water course, formed when the moving water in a stream erodes the outer banks and widens its valley. Similarly, the calm bland nothingness of "Country Son" makes 14 minutes feel like 14 minutes and one second.

None of it matters though, because my friend Henry The Dog has died. Only a few weeks after being diagnosed with undifferentiated cancer, his intermittent hacking cough suddenly escalated to an alarming degree on Thursday, September 22nd. He simply couldn't inhale without coughing. His breathing was the most shallow and labored I'd ever heard, and every minute or so he would dissolve into a coughing fit. I tried to cheer him up by taking him to McDonald's for a cheeseburger and ice cream -- and it did make him very happy -- but it took him forever to walk the two and a half blocks to the restaurant. He was clearly exhausted from spending the whole day coughing.

I'd have taken him to the vet had I been home to see his condition, but I'd just started a new job four days earlier, so didn't arrive home until after hours. As such, all I could do was call the off-duty vet and have her write me a prescription for a strong cough suppressant to pick up in the morning. As Henry continued to cough, she asked if blood and mucus were coming out. I said no, and she said, "Good. Because that would be really bad." A couple of minutes later, Henry began coughing up blood and mucus.

I hoped he would be able to calm down, fall asleep and wait for morning, but he continued coughing up blood well into the night. Finally at about 1:15, I called my girlfriend and told her it was time. She came over and called a car to take us all to the Animal Medical Center. When we arrived, I gave him some water and a nurse gave him three cans of cat food, which he loved. Then we lay him on his side so the technicians could put a catheter into his leg. All the while, I petted him, kissed him on the head and told him how much I loved him.

It all ended quickly. He stood on all fours as I kissed his nose and told him he was the best dog ever. The doctor injected a sedative and he immediately fell over onto his side. I continued to pet him, give him kisses and tell him what a good dog he is. Then the doctor injected the poison and Henry's eyes closed, opened halfway and closed again. Then I wept.

Here is the last photo ever taken of my little boy:

He loved that cat food.

Reader Comments

Justin Rogers
Mark,

I've been reading your site for almost six years now, and in that time I'm pretty sure I've read every review on there. I've thought about commenting before, but I've never been REALLY compelled to until now. I want to thank you for every word you've ever written. I know this is just a hobby for you, but your site has slowly become the most important website in my life that isn't, you know, my e-mail, or Facebook, or any of that shit. I stumbled across your page while googling Mr. Bungle once, back in my sophomore year of high school. I'm now in my senior year of college. You've influenced me in multiple ways that I never even realized until today. First, and most obviously, I discovered about a third of my favorite bands through the site. The Fall is my favorite band, and I don't think I ever would've cared about them if you hadn't raved about them so much. Second, you make me laugh. I know you doubt yourself sometimes, but you're a hilarious guy, and you've got a way with language. I can't count the number of times I've said "Green Day? More like Green GAY!" or something to that effect, just because it's a joke I've picked up from you. You inspired me to put more humor into my writing, because I saw how effective it could be in your reviews.

Third - and this is why I'm writing in on this review, because I didn't even realize it until tonight - I now care incredibly deeply about someone I've never met. I know it doesn't mean a lot coming just from an e-mail, but I'm so, so sorry about Henry. Your love for him came through so strongly in your reviews that I feel like I've met him before, like sometimes I'll come home from work and he'll be waiting for me, wagging his tail and telling me how much he missed me and is ready for his walk. Hearing that he was gone just made something come loose in my brain, and I broke down and cried for ten minutes. I know that's nothing compared to what you're going through, but I hope that it's a little consolation to you to know that every positive and excited word you've written about Henry on the site has made your readers care about and love him, and these words will always be a testament to Henry's memory.

I'm glad to hear that your life is getting back on track. It's wonderful to hear that your new job is working out, and that you're still with your girlfriend, and that you're still committed to not drinking. Henry's glad to have watched his daddy get his shit together, too. I don't think I could imagine a person being a kinder owner to their dog than you were to Henry. You're a beautiful human being, Mark, no matter what anyone on Youtube says.

Thank you.

Add your thoughts?


Filles de Kilimanjaro - Columbia 1968
Rating = 7

2005 - I've got a bone to pick with "Weird Al" Yankovic, America's premier novelty music artist. It's not that he shaved off his mustache; I've come to accept that unfortunate show of maturity. It's not even that most of his albums aren't that great, though that's certainly disappointing in its own right. No, what's really burning my butt about "Weird Al" Yankovic these days is the fact that he has been in the hilarious parody songwriting industry for nigh on more than two decades now and has STILL, TO THIS DAY, not recorded a hilarious parody of James Brown's "Big Payback" entitled "Vic Tayback." It's an obvious move. A dog could do it. Heck, a corpse trapped under a boulder could do it. So why is our world still lacking such a much-needed commodity as that whose absence I have herein lamented? I blame lawyers and their fatcat attorneys.

I suppose that out of 16 new Miles Davis albums, I was bound to actually like one of them. And here it is - Filles De Fish. Richly educated jazz students inform me that this was both Miles' final album with his Second Quintet and his first album to mix bits of rock, pop, blues, funk and r'n'b into his jazz. The result? A heady brouhaha called FuSiOn! Tons of interesting riffs, harmonies, bass licks (on your grave!), drum breaks and organ melodies are to be found within these five lengthy tracks, which run the emotional gamut from calamitous funk to exploratory tearful soul to throbbing pulsating evil to happy-go-lucky moodmaking before finishing off with a preposterously long pop/blues bass'n'organ motif purposely performed at the pace of a slug.

Quick! Name these movies!

"Greg! Greg! Look at your hands! Our hands are bleeding! It's Montag! He's doing it!"

"Now you listen. And you listen WELL! You're damaged goods, and this is a fire sale!"

"I have a drug here. LSD. Perhaps you've heard of it."

"Have you ever had... an EGYPTIAN FEAST!?"

"Paula, I may be a bitch, but I'll never be a BUTCH. HA HA HA HA HA!"

You're gonna love Mr. Herbie Hancock trading in his piano for an electric boogaloo, working his way ever closer to his career high "Rockit" with the robot legs wearing pants and shoes and dancing in the closet (if memory serves). Another thing that will instantly strike you about this release is how well the musicians listen to each other. Just lend an ear to the first half of "Tout De Suite," first as the horns play that sad riff in harmony and the bassist "vamps" on his sympathetic bass motif, then as the horns suddenly start hitting nearly DISTURBING notes higher up in the spectrum, on into when the bass and organ begin exchanging quick instrument smacks while the drummer reduces his beat to a tense metronomic cymbal tick-tick-tick - It's almost "A Saucerful of Secrets"y in its 'structured chaos' construction! Unfortunately the song stalls about eight minutes in and turns into a series of boring solos, but later take note of a neat piece of bass/drum interaction that's far more musical than you might expect. Best of all, listen right near the very end of the song when it all of a sudden breaks out into a goodtime blues tune for about FOUR SECONDS for no clear reason! Hilarious! That's what Jazz is - hilarious!

In order to work with four other musicians on actual real-time pieces of improvisatory music, one must possess great concentration and attention to the task at hand. Did you see that they caught this asshole child molester guy who killed the little girl's whole family? Actually, "child asshole molester" would probably be a more factually correct descriptor, if adding salt to old wounds is your business. Speaking of pussy, check out the October 2005 issue of Hustler for a full-page interview with Neil Hamburger! Yesterday Henry The Dog ran across our shared terrace to bark menacingly at the kitty cat that lives next door and wouldn't you know it - the cat hissed, 'raowr!'ed and threw his front legs all over creation and next thing you know, Henry's got a bloody nose! Oh, this made him hopping mad it did, and he started barking like moonshine with a stack of mules on top. I tell ya what, when that mean ol' dog's got a hair a-crackin', don't come around here with your flabber wackin'!

Say - what are all these funny little shapes on the computer screen? Ha ha! They're funny! One of them looks like a little wiggly snake!

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s

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Augh! Snake on the lose! Somebody call the American Society for the Cruelty of Animal Prevention (ASCAP)!!!!

Reader Comments

edoslan@gmail.com
"Greg! Greg! Look at your hands! Our hands are bleeding! It's Montag! He's doing it!" - Wizard of Gore

"Now you listen. And you listen WELL! You're damaged goods, and this is a fire sale!" - Scum of the Earth

"I have a drug here. LSD. Perhaps you've heard of it." - Something Weird

"Have you ever had... an EGYPTIAN FEAST!?" - Blood Feast

"Paula, I may be a bitch, but I'll never be a BUTCH. HA HA HA HA HA!" - Taste of Honey???

I've been a Something Weird kick myself lately... what about, "well, it looks like a long, hard one"?

Add your thoughts?


Water Babies - Columbia 1977
Rating = 3

2005 - Today I got an email that made me say, "Uh-oh." It was from a British person who feels that my reviews have become unreadably self-centered and nonsensical. You see, here's what's happened. I've been doing the site here for nine and a half years, and have gone through many different phases. When I started, my goal was to say everything I could about an album; this generally resulted in my writing one sentence about each song on the record. Then I moved on into being a little sillier and adding in obvious jokes that I no longer find amusing at all. Then I took a long break, and upon my return I reviewed EVERY SINGLE ALBUM I LISTENED TO, RIGHT AFTER I LISTENED TO IT. So those reviews are all teeny-tiny, and of no use whatsoever as far as I'm concerned. Then I entered a phase of being as offensive as possible, writing all kinds of grotesque, pointless comments that weren't even really jokes so much as just unpleasant statements. And now here I am nine and a half years later stuck in what I thought was a perfectly good jokes+description formula, but now I'm starting to have my doubts. See, I really have been writing more about each album in my current reviews than I ever did before -- the problem is that I also feel the need to constantly entertain the easily bored, so I throw in all kinds of ridiculous horseshit just for grins and whatnot. This is fine if my reviews are still readable, but apparently they're getting to the point where they're not. So I'm going to try to enter a new phase wherein I actually READ MY REVIEWS after I write them but before I post them. What's your opinion? Are they getting too hard to read? Let a guy know. Me, preferably. Perhaps I could try to put jokes just at the beginning and end, and leave the review portion relatively alone. Thoughts?

As for this album specifically, it was recorded in a couple different sessions in 1968 but not released until nearly a decade later. This may be due to the fact that the songs (fusion and bop) are about as scintillating as a boring-looking bird. The title track includes an excitingly EERIE electric piano chord sequence, but the rest of the band just puds around. "Sweet Pea" perfectly hits a doldrum mood (especially in its evocative electric piano solo), but there's no melody and the rest of the band just plays with their dicks, fucking each other in the ass and then fucking their instruments, then fucking each other in the asses again with their dicks covered in spit that had collected in their instruments, even the bassist because he plays his bass with his dick, which is usually covered in the drummer's spit because the drummer's always blowin' him. And "The Dual Mr. Tillman Anthony Williams Rigmarole" or whatever it's called is a terrific, really really awesome, interesting, brilliantly designed half-paced experimental r'n'b groove cut into tiny pieces and reassembled with too much space between each portion; unfortunately it slithers along for THIRTEEN AND A HALF MINUTES, seemingly under the impression that twice as long means twice as good. And sure that's true for some things, like tube socks or liquid paper, but not anything else. "Two Faced" is EIGHTEEN MINUTES, for heaven's sake - and it's not even a song! And "Capricorn"? That's just 8 1/2 minutes of an astrological sign running away from a bee! Sure, it's fast and furious, but it also makes it clear why the Latin word "solo" translates into "urine sample." And yes, that is why your Pete Townshend albums smell so bad.

That, and because he glued the sleeves together while looking at childhood photos of himself.

So you see, I've now entered a new reviewing phase -- one that will engage us all with its intellectual wit and 'on-focus' music critique. Here's to dagos!

To be honest, I don't even know what a dago is. I know it's a racial slur, but of what nationality I've no idea. Dagoricans, I guess?

Sure! Fuckin' Dagoricans can eat my ass's shitass!

Reader Comments

radfox@gmail.com
I don't give a shit about Water Babies and you don't have to put this comment up if you don't want to but I don't really think any of your reviews are hard to read, and I don't think they've gotten any harder. Actually, the formula of purposely misspelling album and band info and adding tons on non sequiturs and goofy jokes and the word "poop" in the midst of stuff that is normally serious is what distinguishes you from other rock critics and it's why I like your reviews so much even though I disagree with you somewhere between 50 and 60 percent of the time. Basically from reading your reviews it's obvious that you don't like slow and barely changing stuff and don't have patience for loads of pretence so if you hypothetically gave an album a one and made the review say "HALALG I AM A HAMBURGER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MLOOP DROOP" or something ridiculous like that then I would think Well I guess that's because he either wanted more melodies and better pacing and production. In all honesty though your reviews have just gotten better with time so I wouldn't change anything.

i.grigoriev@gmx.de (Ilya from Germany)
Hi Mark!

I've been reading your site for two years now, I think.

Here's what:

The reviews themselves are lousy... In fact, they suck.
The dick jokes are still dick jokes. (How many ways are there to tell a dick joke... TWO?)
You're honest. Very fucking honest.
Every time I'm reading one of your reviews, I think I'm reading somebody's diary. That alone doesn't mean crap (I'd never read Cobain's diary for example. First of all because I think it's pathetic to peak into somebody's most intimate thoughts without his permission, and second of all cause I think it would bore my pants off) but you manage to make it very entertaining.
To put it (almost) like Starostin:
1. Diversity: everything from drunk ramblings (Zappa) to sugar-sweet love confessions (DK, Ramones) to quiet hate (Velvet Undy's) and nostalgia (LuMP)
2. Readability: you're often obliged to put one too many "POOP!"'s or "HA!"'s into a perfectly fine blank line but you're never boring. Starostin and Denning occasionally bore. You don't. Never.
3. Resonance: I hardly ever agree with you, but I always want to. You really got me with that "I was in 10th grade, depressed and chicks didn't dig me so I turned to the Kennedys and the Ramones..." schlock. I still can't figure out why. But it works!
4. Originality: Lester Bangs without the drugs and the dictionary. (?)
5. Adequacy: Strange category. But I still remember the 9/11 story in Springsteen's catalogue. And it's still the best thing you've ever written.

I don't even know why I wrote this. But I think it's better than just a dull review.

Keep on scribbling.

ilyamalinsky@yahoo.com
hi mark, ive been reading your site siiiiince late 99, when i was a senior in HS.

the last couple of updates, (i guess the june stuff), was some of the funniest shit youve ever written, possibly the funniest since the miles davis reviews... i also think the beach boys stuff was really funny, as well as the nirvana 'incesticide' poem, which i have read out loud to friends and girlfriends (they loved it).

i dunno, i love the stupid jokes and random crap you throw in. i find most music writing preeetty effing boring, both to read and to write.

i guess you should know that you had a big part in inspiring me to take up and subsequently swear off semi-professional rock reviewing (i wrote for NY Press and boston's weekly dig. not anymore.)

did you go to any of those nyc Fall shows last year where MES was on crutches cause of the broken hip? that was fucked up yet somehow awe-inspiring. i thought the actual shows kinda sucked though.

its 2 am and i have work in the morning, have a good one.

maks.head@gmail.com
bring back the phase when you would smash the keyboard and get dissapointed that you only left an h (i think) :)

champagneorslimfast@yahoo.com
Pay no matter to that British chap, I enjoy your current style of writing. Most true art (and yes, writing is an art, even when it's just silly record reviews) is misunderstood by the masses...and with nearly 10 years of reviewing under your belt, you've got quite an impressive ouevre. The most enjoyable aspect of your reviews is your honesty; the shifting style of the reviews mirrors your growth as an artist. If you were to change your style of writing for the sake of pleasing your audience, you wouldn't be true to yourself. If a few people think your style is too masturbatory, take comfort in the fact that you've got a legion of fans that long to be sprayed with your text jism.

Oh, and dago is a term for an Italian because "Diego" was a popular Italian surname. And, for future reference, wop is an acronym standing for "With-Out Passport," referring to the status of Italian immigrants arriving in America. Isn't racist history fun?

furnacedoor@hotmail.com (Xian)

no,no and

.............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................okay.

(feel free to post this at the end of any of your recent reviews, or not so recent reviews. anyways i hope you dug your trip to alaska(if at least in a "time off from work" sense). currently loving life 'cause MY OWN GODDAMN MOTHER wants to help. but that's just me. lovin' you since i discovered your site looking for SUN CITY GIRLS info before they decide to brighten our idiocrastic need for their internet lexaconismistc

alright now i'm making stuff up. NOW i'm MARK PRINDLE!!

WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!

for my next trick as mark prindle i will trash the genre of thee boss ANOVA(steps on japanese building, hundreds of korean immigrants who relocated to LA run out screaming)

just kidding

i li(HAVE A GIANT BONER)ke your site mark. even if you stray from popular opinion(jazz) or state something clearly against my own aesthetic tastes(jazz). you still inject a certain gonzo slice of life that has made itself literately dubious in the most autonomous fashion if you take in since

i don't know, since i was born.

fuck it man, thank god for spell check.

fatmanosman@hotmail.co.uk
I don't really have any opinion on Miles Davis, but I've decided its time to get into him seeing as many folks go on about him so much. So I'm trying right now to work out where to start and I'm flicking between Amazon, Rateyourmusic and yourself. To be honest I don't know if your reviews of MD are really helping me much to work out what I'd like...but I know what I do like and I like dick jokes. Big purple veined dick jokes, so keep 'em commin'.

And I don't know how long ago you did this page, but I do like this questioning yourself and how you review albums in the midst of a review. I think as long as you actually make some comment on the album at hand, then the more dick jokes, insults and generall observations the better. And maybe just once in a while another 'blackout' review like that Aerosmith one, so I can have a chuckle at people getting really offended.

Lester East
Man mark, fuck that tea drinking homo. I’ve been reading your reviews for going on eight years now. Where else can you get album reviews of Chrome and Butthole Surfers? I think it’s great that you involve us in your personal life. I feel like you’re a friend of mine and we’ve never even met! God damn it I love you Mark and I’m sorry about your buddy Henry. Please NEVER stop writing disgusting, racist, sexist comments on your reviews because that’s why I love you. Okay, the rest of you knuckleheads get on over to DISTORTED VIEW.com for some truly horrid content. Tune in to the Distorted View podcast and join up to the SUPER FREAK SIDESHOW! STD baby…. SPREAD THE DISTORTION! Also be sure and listen to the new demo by WHORE HOLE called LIVE FAST, LOVE HARD, LICK TOILETS if you’re a fan of early DWARVES or GG ALLIN. You can find WHORE HOLE on CD Baby, iTunes or many other digital distribution sites!

Add your thoughts?


In A Silent Way - Columbia 1969.
Rating = 7

Finally! A Miles Davis Express that I can throw my whole-hearted endorsement behind! He has embraced the idea of such a thing as rock music existing! This band features a bunch of guys who ended up in outfits like the Mahavishnu Orchestra and The Weather Report - try this on your hatband and lick it! Herbie Hancock! Chick Corea! Wayne Shorter! Dave Holland? Josef Zawinul! Tony Williams? And on our beloved guitar, Mr. John McLaughlin, about which the members of Aerosmith once said, "Wow, he's good."

See, this is worth investigating. What is it about jazz that so bugs Mr. Prindle? He's complaining about the solos, but most rock music has solos too and you don't see him bitching about those. So what is it? Well, here we go - music is an AURAL medium. And the sounds of jazz simply don't appeal to my ears. I do not enjoy the sounds of brass instruments except as background for lusher, more well-produced rock/pop songs (Beatles, Flaming Lips, etc). However, this album isn't a brass album. Out of the eight musicians who appear on it, only Miles and Wayne play brass instruments! The rest of the guys play electric piano, organ, bass and drums (really light drums though, just a metronomic "ship ship ship," much like the Titanic, although that particular ship turned out to make a better door than a metronome). So the music is smooth and cool while actually sounding GOOD to my brain -- much more like soul-influenced modal rock music than the Miles Davis works that are reviewed previously on this page here. However, there are still an awful lot of passages built on nothing but endless soloing in one key (that's what modal jazz is though) and they could have used a few more melodies like the superfunkycool keyboard lines that pop up once or twice throughout, and the extraordinarily pretty guitar runs that open and close side two.

You don't hear me complaining though! (as long as you didn't read that last sentence) If you've gone this far wondering why I own so many Miles Davis records, it's because this is the first one that I ever heard. Then I bought a bunch of his `70s fusion stuff and dug lots of that too, before picking up a bunch of his earlier stuff in cheapy bins and discovering that jazz can go fuck itself.

Reader Comments

InMyEyes82@aol.com (Zach English)
For my money, this is the best extrapolation of rock sonics and jazz templates you can buy. The songs develop organically, built on astonishingly simple melodic phrases (kind of like A Love Supreme), but they never lose their immediacy and stay interesting throughout. To compare this to Krautrock (that long-haired contingent of artistes like Can and Kraftwerk) is like comparing Al Pacino to Ellen DeGeneres.

jhmusicman12@hotmail.com
Hey! You say that only Miles and Wayne are playing brass instruments. Change that because only Miles is playing a brass instrument! John Wayne Shorter is playing a soprano sax, which is a woodwind instrument! That happens to be made out of metal but is still in the woodwind family! It has a reed! Brass instruments don't have reeds!

Whereas you have a problem with jazz, I enjoy sucking its big, sweaty atmosphere. Cool! "Shhh Peaceful is boring except for Wayne's not-brass solo, but the title track is godly. More Wayne and even more John McLaughlin, which is good. Wow. 29 minutes of recording can make a fantastic 40 minute album. B+

ddickso2@uccs.edu
Well, you picked a rather decent album to introduce yourself to jazz, I do say. Not bad for an ambient quiet pish-pish blues-jazz instrumental wuss-fest with like two songs. And it rules Bitches Brew--heck, at least this one has MELODIES, as opposed to three keyboard players wanking cacophonously all the damn day. (Then again, it's the cacophony that made the latter album popular, isn't it. Popsicles.)

However, it's too damn short--38 minutes is not enough for ambient wuss music to rule, dammit. And the first track sounds suspiciously like the producer put the first 11 minutes on "loop".

I would give this a low 8, but urge everyone that likes this kind of music to buy Klaus Schulze's Irrlicht instead. It is much more of a Lost Chord, so to speak. (And The Matrix ripped it off for its soundtrack--bonus points.)

Laureano Lopez
Oh come on, you're the "this drags forever" most famous repeater in the world, and everything here DRAGS FOR THE COMPLETE LIFETIME OF THE FRIGGIN UNIVERSE! Ok, you hate horns more than dragging... uhmm that's kind of dumb. Me, I hate this acoustic guitar Hawaii-as-they-imagine-in-Greenland thing that has made the fuckin entire career of McLaughlin. At least Metheny makes it spicy.

Besides, the main reason I don't really like Davis is that he's restrained even when he's meaning hysteria, and here, he's meaning restrain. It's restrained restrain. Agh.

Landmark, of course. Good background noise for smalltalk, yea. But I'd rather clean my bathroom than spend another hour on a chair straining to stay awake on this.

Add your thoughts?


Bitches Brew - Columbia 1969.
Rating = 8

From what I'm told to believe, this is the first ever "fusion" album - and it's a good one! Lots of the same folks from In A Silent Way play on this one (as well as some new faces!) and the music just rollicks and rolls like a steam train of hell's abandon. There's this wickedass shuffling polyrhythmic backbeat, John McLaughlin doodlin' away on his 6-string, Miles, Wayne and Bennie Maupin (famous for his lyrical work with Elton John) blowing air and spit into instruments of death and Joe and Larry whippin' out oodles of cool high-speed electric piano riffs and flourishes similar to those that fans of the only real music in the world (rock) might have heard at the beginning of Yes' "Sound Chaser."

So I'm beginning to understand one reason why people might like jazz. It's the fact that there's this sort of minor backdrop thing going on that you can rely on, but in the front, you never know WHAT'S going to happen! I could give a shit about what a bunch of horn-playing jackasses might exchange between themselves, but when they're extrapolating and interplaying with the instruments whose sounds I enjoy (electric bass guitar, electric guitar, electric piano), I'm definitely interested. Parts can get boring if they aren't coming up with much, but on most of Bitches Brew, every instrument somehow manages to toss out lots of really neat sounds and riffs. I don't need lengthy solos, by any means, but when there are two or three (or four or five) talented guys doing their own things all at once, a lot of excellent, unexpected noise and joy can occur. And that ever-chooglin' drumbeat is a keeper.

Jazz? My eye! This is exploratory rock music! Like Krautrock, but brassier! If only somebody would wise up and throw out Miles Davis and his confounded strumpet!

Reader Comments

sdoyle@countrywatch.com (Stanton Doyle)
if you want a nice cohesive album that really goes in different directions and has a nice blend of strange noises, exotic instrumentation, tight compositions, as well as a dose of that early seventies style group improv plus funk that people who actually like early 70's miles like - then On the Corner is one to hear. very different, very cool, very dated, but bad ass.

jackfeeny@yahoo.co.uk
Not to put a dampener on proceedings but I believe it was Bernie Taupin who wrote Elton John's lyrics. Not Bennie Maupin.

Unless it was a joke in which case the joke's now on me. Apologies.

glenn.lester@hope.edu
Great album. It sounds like nothing else I've ever heard. Despite the long track lengths, it's some of the most focused of Miles's fusion. Get this one (and In a Silent Way) before you dive into all that live stuff he did later (most of which is boring, with a few cool moments). "Pharoh's Dance" is probably my favorite, because of the light groove and the keyboard textures. It sounds like outer-space music. Wow. Listen to this, then throw on Yes and you'll realize what wankers they are and how many chances Miles and his East Side Crew were taking.

chaucer@ix.netcom.com (Ryan Maffei)
Naw, it's jazz, 'cause they employ modal improvisations in their jamming a la Kind of Blue. And this isn't quite the first fusion record--that would be Frank Zappa's Hot Rats from 1969, although he'd been dabbling in that kind of thing since 1968's Uncle Meat. This didn't even begin what you might call jazz-rock--look at Chicago or Blood, Sweat and Tears. However, Miles musical sound collages were certainly new, so there. An A from me.

pedroandino@msn.com
I have kind of blue and you do not have to dis it like that! anyway I got into santana jazz fusion records! it takes many listens to get it! bitches brew is a great jazz rock record! even if u do not like jazz records this is for fusion freaks only! it can be a soundtrack to the electric company! pretty funky stuff!. and it has the santana player john mclaughlin he is a fusion god on love devotion and surrender and welcome! why did you not have any santana reviews? please I am a puertorican! I was born hearing santana in '73 and he too is a fantstic player and he played electric riffs like you would not belive! check out moonflower you know what I mean! bitches brew will not be ignored!

jhmusicman12@hotmail.com
Even Better! Wild! The Bass Clarinet, an instrument I love! More wild drums! Three drummers and two conga players! Two bassists! It rules! And Rules, I tell you! The first disc is the best, and probably earns the A all on its own. The second disc is still fabulous though. Check out Shorter's "Sanctuary" and Davis's "John McLaughlin." I want the Bitches Brew sessions boxset! Now! Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie! A

P. S. Todd Rundgren rules!

josephwahler@yahoo.com
the album was great, but way different from Miles's previous albums which i liked better! however, i enjoyed this album, sometime i get to tired to get to 2nd disc after listening to the 1st which have only two songs in more than 20 minutes each! yikes! waste of time! the title track was trippy! Spanish Key sounded like Santana! The unreleased Feio sounded pretty wierd! Pharoah's Dance was fun to listen to! John McLaughlin, the shortest song track in this album was cool! John's playing was awesome and the keyboards were awesome!

olivuhr@gmail.com
Allthough I disagree with Mark on his Miles Davis scores since he's one of my favorite jazz fellas and all, I still think that it's pretty hillarious how seriously are people taking his writing. Best bait for elitist jazz buffs I've ever seen.

I prefer Miles' fusion era too, mainly because, like Mark, i come from a background of mainly rock n roll and its variations (punk, metal, post-punk, blahblah), so it's the main stuff I listen from him. I like Kind of Blue for instance, but it's not something really special to me. But I do like accoustic jazz too on the other hand, like Coltrane or Charles Mingus or Ornette Coleman or Thelonious Monk. So I was wondering, Mark, what's your opinion on Coltrane, I'm aiming at stuff like A Love Supreme or Giant Steps? Or Coleman since I saw you listened to him too? Giant Steps for me beats every pre-fusion album Miles ever put out easily.

I'd also recommend listening to Charles Mingus's album The Black Saint & The Sinner Lady, think you might like it. The music always has at least a catchy backing melody to it and then all the brass instruments do tasteful solos that weave into each other and Mingus keeps the band going with his bass playing and there's this really cool trombone player doing coolish sounds with his mouth as if he had a vocoder.... it's definetly something worth hearing.

And throw this under Bitches Brew.

ddickso2@uccs.edu
Eh. . . I don't think I like this one. Yeah, it's rockin' n' shit, and parts of it are gnarly, but for the love of God it's ONE HUNDRED AND TEN DAMN MINUTES LONG AND EIGHTY-FIVE OF THEM SOUND THE DAMN SAME FOR THE LOVE OF DAMMIT DAMN DAMN. Yeah, it's groundbreaking, but so were the assholes that laid the foundations for Saddam's p

Oi vey. I cannot joke today. That's okay--we all have our off months. Apparently, so did Miles Davis when recording Bitches "Insert Nasty Pun Here" Chowder Soup.

That said, Miles rocks the horn on the title track. And the cute little six-chord riff on "Spanish Key" is cute. And "Feio" is freaky. And Herbie Hancock has wicked-ass eyeglasses. Now if only him and his fellow keyboard players would SHUT THE HELL UP WITH THEIR BLEEPING ATONAL SOLOS EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE, I'd be nice.

Actually, it's not bad traveling music. Especially when driving through the plains of West Texas--the scenery there makes this sound like Metallica's And Justice For All. I give it a 6.

Regarding Joe Satriani albums (re the Cookin review), I sympathize, but I do so for opposite reasons; I think he's just fine when he musically wanks all over himself. It's only when he tries to write a poop ballad or imitates ZZ Top that I feel the urge to pretend I was born after August of 1991.

davepulaski@gmail.com
Have you ever noticed that Miles Davis took the riff from "Then Comes Dudley" by The Jesus Lizard and ripped it off for "Great Expectations"? What bullshit!

I'm sure SOMEONE has to have told you this already. I just noticed. Just another reason to hate Miles Davis.

nineinchgoth@hotmail.com
Totally with you on this. It's a great album, no question, but A TRIBUTE TO JACK JOHNSON accomplished so much more with only one disc. Still, if you're going to have any electric Miles, ya gotta have this one.

Laureano Lopez
...if Davis were the only one making this stuff for the last fifty years, I'd probably like this album more, but that's like saying I'd like monkeys if there weren't women.

Davis is COOL, and coolness BORES THE HELL OUT OF ME. It's like a man sitting in front of an expecting audience and then giving "the looks". "Ooh". "Oh-la-la". "Mmmm..." "I'm so sexy". "SOOOOoooft......" OH DAVIS JUST BLOW THE THING

When this guy "invented" coolness, in that first album you pretty much disdained, it was great. I mean, I can't imagine a world with James Bond and no Miles Davis. George Clooney would have ended in the spliff biz if there weren't Davis justifying him. Every time I give "a look", there's some Davis playing in my head. But that's it.

This thing is too long, to slick and waaay too cool for me to love it. It has had horrendous and fantastic consequences in the last decades, and I love some of the second crew. At this point... I'm still bored.

Add your thoughts?


A Tribute To Jack Johnson - Columbia 1970.
Rating = 8

Another great funk/soul/jazz/rock album, this one is supposedly the soundtrack to a movie about Jack Johnson, the first ever black heavyweight champion. The music seems a bit less layered than Bitches Brew as a whole, but it's very rock and very enjoyable. Yet again, Herbie Hancock of "Rock It" fame plays keyboards on this one, just revving up for his later fame and fortune with "Rock It," which I always get mixed up in my head with the "Axl F Theme" by Harold Faltermeyer, who I'm nearly certain never played on a top-rated Miles Davis LP. John McLaughlin is back on guitar, a Jewish fellow plays sax, Billy Cobham plays drums (that name sounds really familiar to me, but I'm not sure why - did he play with Jimi Hendrix or Mike & The Mechanics or something?) and a Mr. Michael Henderson plays the Fender Bass.

Side one is basically a 26-minute rock song - and I don't even mean "fusion" like the last album. This song has a very solid, hard-hitting 4/4 rock backbeat and is dominated by John's guitar playing, mostly rockin' chords and funky butt playing. There are a few quiet moments strewn unexpectedly throughout the side, but it's mostly just a groovin', long rock song that they likely made up on the spot. Side two starts slow with a repeating bass line and quiet playing atop of it, but it picks up steam (and drums) about halfway through, with Miles and Steve doubling some really neat shout-out horny riffing while Guitar Johnny pulls some sunglass-wearing, head-shaking wah-wah pedal soloing atop of it. Then the bass and guitar lock into a Sanford & Son-style riff and things just soar from there.

This record doesn't strike me as anywhere near as groundbreaking and spacey as Bitches Brew, but if you're a fan of funky rock, you'll probably love the hymnation out of it like I do. If you see Jack Johnson, dig up his corpse and let him know about this wicked col' medina of a tribute album!

Reader Comments

InMyEyes82@aol.com (Zach English)
Man, John McLaughlin freakin' ROCKS, doesn't he? This is a superb Miles album, and anyone who enjoys this one should immediately pick up McLaughlin's album Devotion. I can't vouch for his Mahavishnu stuff (having never heard it) but I think Devotion rivals Jack Johnson for pure, incendiary improvisation. One of the most underrated guitarists of the past thirty years.

duane_zarakov@yahoo.com.au
Re: the gtr playing on side 2 - lots of it isn't McLaughlin, it's Sonny Sharrock. He doesn't get his name on the cover for some reason I can't remember but that's who it is.

errado@dipnoi.com (Bernardo Pacheco)
The comment about Sharrock above is not quite right, I believe. Apparently there's a section that's been edited into one of the tracks that contains Sharrock's uncredited playing, but that's it.

ddickso2@uccs.edu
I will never in a million years understand how people can sit through the entire half hour of the second side of this, but the first side ain't half-bad. Blues wanking AND loud trumpet? I'm there.

Still, for God's sake, jazz fans, stop claiming this is one of the "hardest rocking" albums of 1970. Do you KNOW what "hard" is??

I'm getting off a Rocky kick lately, so I'll give this a 6.52. For awesome albums where each side is just one long song, try Klaus Schulze. He's MOODY.

nineinchgoth@hotmail.com
This unjustly obscure gem blows BITCHES BREW completely away, pure and simple. If you're a rock fan new to jazz, this should be your first stop. Miles Davis and his group (Teo Macero included) were essentially the American Can. Oh, and that is indeed Sonny Sharrock providing those bursts of noise on "Yesternow". He sadly was never documented performing with Miles otherwise (at least to the best of my knowledge).

Add your thoughts?


At Fillmore: Live At The Fillmore East - Columbia 1970.
Rating = 5

This to my dungarees sounds like "improv fusion when it fails." It was recorded on four different nights at an unnamed venue with a perfectly capable band in tow, but they just hardly EVER jibe. There are some neat bass lines and electric piano pieces and such, but no electric guitar :7( and I swear it just sounds like no member of the band is listening to anybody else. They never come together like they did so well on the last two studio albums. So it ends up sounding like King Crimson at their worst (which is most of the time) - like a bunch of huge egos on an off night. There is no interplay or collaboration; just tons of noises that don't sound good together.

Reader Comments

xrayspex1@hotmail.com (M P)
How you can bash this album and praise Bitches Brew is beyond me -- it has most of that album on it, and every version is superior -- IMO, and in the opinion of everybody else that I've ever talked to who owned both albums. This album has much more clarity, energy and purpose than Bitches Brew, which I do like, but I always thought was somewhat overrated for its significance. Actually, I've only played Bitches Brew once since I picked this one up, because I now find it irrelevant.

And as for your Miles reviews in general, despite the fact that I vehemently disagree with you on about 90% of them, I certainly don't advocate you erasing the page, as has been suggested several times in the comments. Thumbs up for expressing what you knew was going to be an unpopular opinion. Thumbs down for being wrong -- : ) -- but web reviewers that aren't afraid to show their weaknesses ultimately come off stronger for the effort.

drazy@gatecity.com
This was my first introduction to jazz, and it scared the living shit out of me. My father bought the 8-track version of it (no shit) and I'd put it on only to never make it to the next channel. If you've never heard the awesome fidelity of an 8-track and the way it operates, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. If you have, maybe you can answer the question what the fuck were people thinking when they came up with this format? Maybe you could even answer the question what was Miles thinking when he came up with this album. It took me over 15 years before someone played me "Miles Smiles" until I warmed up to jazz again. To this day, I tread very lightly on the genre, for fear of looking stupid. I'll back Mark up on this one and say "Yeah Mark, you tell 'em!" just like a mongoloid. Man, that was a great Devo song. I feel stupid again.

Add your thoughts?


Live-Evil - Columbia 1970.
Rating = 7

Although not mixed anywhere near as well as their solo material, The Misfits' Evilive went a long way towards pres 0 wgat> BI NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOmOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOiOOOOOOOOOOOOlOOOOOOeOOOOOOOOOOOsOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOdOOOOOOOOOOOOOOaOOOOOOvOOOOOOOOOOOOiOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOsOOOOOOOOOOOsOOOOOuOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOcOOOOOOOOOOOkOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOeOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOdOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

This is another funky fusion double-album from 1970. With guitars! Johnny McLaughalittle! Long excursions into blackdom mixed with white guy reefer madness. Isn't it interesting that most of the things I enjoy about certain Miles Davis performances have nothing to do with the performance of Miles Davis? Apparently he's playing his trumpet through a wah-wah pedal on here. Do I know? Do I CARE? I don't really like the sound of a trumpet all that much. I think it's interesting when he flubs notes and they kind of float away into non-notes as the rest of the band jiggles and fliggles in premature ecstasy, unsupervised and UNTUTORED! But more important than the trumpeting is, I guess, the musicians he picks to play with him. So what's to dig, Jack? Lots more great rhythmic shakalaka and a few short, slow, eerie, muffled little numbers awash in weird echoes and delay - maybe not EVIL, but certainly an odd, spooky mood for a "jazz" performance. Seems like the band gets lost and uninspired every once in a while during the 20+-minute numbers, but at least they're listening to each other and every once in a while a few of them will hone in on some really cool bumpy bassy bit that they repeat in lockstep like God's Chosen People until they try something new and get lost again. One thing to note about fusion jazz: this ain't your father's jazz!!!!!

Assuming your father was born in like 1892.

Reader Comments

fretless78@hotmail.com (Morten Jacobsen)
Some advice:
First you learn about music-you study it, learn to play it, learn to play anything there is to play-upside down, inside out.But most importantly, you learn to understand it.This may take many,many years and even then not everyone can do this(as your reviews clearly display).
Then, when you know music -and only then-does your opinion matter and cease to make you a fool for the world to see.
I think it's fairly interesting reading about how you don't understand 'jazz'.This tells me that you haven't grasped what music is about yet.Especially in the case of Miles, there is no jazz, rock, funk or any other genre invented and named by the press.There is only music.
But fear not! You obviously have access to some albums that are exceptional in terms of displaying musical communication on the highest level.Next time you put on one of these albums(if you ever do), try to listen to what's going and then try to understand it.I bet you can't, but keep trying-there's a marvellous world waiting for you beyond the hurdle.
And Live/Evil is a VERY evil album-period!
With Regards
-Morten
(musician)

eric.neuser@umusic.com
I like the comments above. A guy who doesn't understand your website posts comments criticizing your album reviews for lack of understanding. Unless I've misunderstood and now I'm part of the vicious irony myself. At least he patronized you and offered pity for your lack of artistic understanding as well as your general lack of comprehension regarding music in general. At least he proved he's right and you're wrong and didn't waste anyone's time with an attempt to display any of his sensitive, fine-tuned musical insight. Ass-wipe. In your defense then Mark I'd like to say that I'm not so much a fan of Live Evil myself - I don't like it when the Elf tries to sing those Ozzy songs "Sivad", "Selim" and "Funky Tonk". Tony Iommi sure got fast fingers though. Sounds like he should quit the band and make his own group like Mahavishnu Orchestra. And how 'bout that drummer? Wasn't impressed with his performances on Mob Rules or Holy Diver but he sure rips here. He once said his biggest influence as a drummer was his older brother who was in the Vanilla Fudge and Cactus so I guess that explains how he could hold down the Miles gig so solidly despite being a white man.

alexmortland@hotmail.com
This album is TERRIBLE. I just cannot listen to these guys try & fail to hold a fucking funk groove for more than a millisecond. One of the most annoying records I've ever heard.

BTW, as much as I love Miles, you've made great points about much of his 50's work. Especially those fucking ugly trumpet blasts which my jazz-loving bandmates cream over. They're PAINFUL.

Fernie Canto
Hey, Mark! Just dropping in to leave you a quick note. It's been so many years that I've met this world of "music reviewing" on the Internet, and so many stuff happened since then, so much music I've listened to, so many reviews that I wrote for a website that has simply disappeared in a puff of bits and bytes a few years ago, and so many changes that resulted in, among other things, me downloading much more music than I manage to listen to; and after all that, I STILL check your website to have some fun. And now that I'm starting to get into Jazz, I've been checking your Miles Davis reviews to lighten up and get into my head the notion NOT to take this whole thing too seriously. It's great! Basically, I recently heard "Live-Evil", and I was quite psyched to hear the crazy combination of fusion jazz with latin rhythms; but that's probably mostly because as a latin-american myself, I've grown to really love that kind of stuff. This is a hell of a funky album, but I swear I don't understand why there are such jarring and dissonant renditions of Hermeto Paschoal's songs such as "Little Church". Really, I don't get it, was Davis PURPOSEFULLY "uglyfying" it? Or is it some bizarre aesthetic that I'm yet to know? It's a shame, those tunes are lovely, but PARTICULARLY "Little Church" sometimes becomes painful to hear! But overall I love this. And it's particularly crazy because these tracks are mostly cut-and-paste jobs, and you can even HEAR with they suddenly jump from one thing to another completely different. Funky!

Add your thoughts?


On The Corner - 1972.
Rating = 6

I was hoping to love this, since a bunch of people told me I would, but it's too SAMEY! This is another fusion one, chockfull of groovy percussion stuff, some horns a-bleepin', keyboards a playin', guitars a twangin' and basses a-bwoompin', but not nearly enough happens to cover the full 55 minutes. There are a lot of excellent moments when a whole bunch of neat things are all going on at once, but too much of it is just percussion percussion percussion without really much else happening at all. For like ten minutes at a stretch! The entire first side, for example, is one very simple little groove that they somehow claim is actually four different songs (just because one features a guitar solo, one features a keyboard solo and one features all kinds of neat things slappin' out the joobdish). I don't know; maybe my expectations were just too high.

Or maybe this woman-beating drug addict is simply not worthy of one ounce of my respect. He is, after all, the worst musician that has ever lived.

Reader Comments

stanjarin@optusnet.com.au
He's not worthy of one ounce of your respect, as you say. You offering respect to Miles would be like an offer of kryptonite. Personally, I think only half your head, heart and ears are working (if you're serious, and you probably are).

Nonetheless, I love the basic thrust of all this and the way you're doing it -- there is no more pretentious creature (over 18) walking the planet than the Jazz Buff and you are to be commended for meting appropriate punishment to that insufferable breed of pipe-smoking, tweed-jacket wearing poseur (yeah, I know, wrong decade but that sort of mind traverses decades and fashion styles and that's the thumbnail that still fits as a mental state.)

However, I love Miles and I particularly love On The Corner and I'm sad you don't get it. It's like wishing a friend wasn't colour-blind. Or deaf. Cain't do nuthin much about that.

ddickso2@uccs.edu
Heh. Funny, I think MY expectations were too LOW. Because of YOU!! (bites thumb, "stereotype"-style)

Kidding. I almost agree with your 6 rating, actually--the album's too damn samey. Only Klaus Schulze is allowed to milk the same damn musical idea for 50 minutes, dammit.

Okay, Beck too, but only when depressed.

Still, being an ironic snarky white individual in his/her 20's, I like funky black person soul music. (And this album is FUNK, make no mistake--"jazz" labels have no meaning here.) Plus, Miles' trumpet sounds like a guitar. I give it a 7 and wish there were more horn players doing crazy things.

Also, I'm currently listening to Lucinda Williams. She does the same damn descending "indie" vocal hook at the end of every line, and it sort of angers me. Her slower songs are kind of moving, though. I give Sweet Old World an 8 and urge All Concerned to avoid her latest three albums at all costs.

nineinchgoth@hotmail.com
It's alright, Mark. I understand. You really have to appreciate musique concrete to like this one. It took me about five listens to get into it, and I actually DO like musique concrete (color me pretentious, I suppose).

Add your thoughts?


Big Fun - Columbia 1974
Rating = 5

2011 - Oh boy. "Shitty" Miles "The Bastard" Davis "The Asshole" has really outdone himself this time. In 1974, while operating under the radar, he built a Time Machine, went forward in time to 1991, heard the Jesus Lizard song "Then Comes Dudley," then went back to three months after the Bitches Brew and RIPPED IT OFF!!! Poor friend of nations Duane Denison must've cried himself willy when he heard "Great Expectations" and heard his masterpiece creepy guitar riff plagiarised as an echoey trumpet rooty-toot surrounded by funky bass, buzzy Indian noises and twelve different musicians all stepping on each others' feet. Fuck you, Miles Davis!

Then he hopped back in his Time Machine, flew back to 1911 to stare at a bunch of naked little kids, then flew forward to the tail end of the On The Corner sessions to have a guy play a great bass line so he and nine other talentless pricks could smother it in a hairy asshole of random noise. Then they all jumped in a time machine and flew up Nell Carter's ass.

Alright, I'm tired of the Time Machine gag. I was all excited about it earlier, thinking of all the hilarious places and time periods that Miles Davis could visit. But now that I'm actually in the thick of it, it's as boring as "Lonely Fire," a 21-minute ambient piece that never goes anywhere or does anything at all. But that's what happens when you let Brian Eno produce your album! Not that he produced this album, but in general I bet that's what would happen.

Considering that all four side-long tracks on this double-album are rejects from previous sessions, it's incredible how much there is to enjoy here. The fast beat, African stomping and killer bass line of "Ife," the looped trumpet and insane stereophonic fuzz guitar and drum assault of Tribute to Jack Johnson outtake "Go Ahead John," the riff Duane Denison stole from "Great Expectation," the terrific Indian melody of "Orange Lady" -- had these highlights been distilled down to a single album, Big Fun would probably be one of the strongest Miles albums of all. Unfortunately every song suffers from long tedious passages, and I'm pretty sure side four is just a homeless man walking around the studio wiping his balls on everything.

So our final count is two "asshole"s, one "shit," one "bastard," one "naked little kids," one "fuck," one "pricks," one "ass" and one "balls."

That Pulitzer is MINE!

Add your thoughts?


Get Up With It - Columbia 1972
Rating = 6

2005 - This is a good example of how waiting years between reviews can have whimsical effects. I was planning to tell you how excited I was by the great material to be found on this, a 6-worthy Miles Davis release. But then I re-read the preceding review (of On The Corner) and found that I had nearly nothing good to say about that one, yet gave it that very same 6! Oh, how time makes fools of us all.

If you're a wah-wah guitar fan, set your alarm clock to this album so every morning you can "get up with it." At times, you'll even find up to THREE distorted messy wah-wah guitars wow-wow-woooaaaaing away at the same time! This plus organs, drums, African/tribal percussion, groovy basses, bongos, psychedelic flutes and even a trumpet all come together into a big jammin' musical mess of rock, funk, blues, world music, jazz, psych ambience and bachelor pad erotica! A real gas, and not a single bad song for miles.

Mainly because he's low in the mix, having finally figured out that his band is better than he is! (Sorry, little "miles/Miles" play-on-words there) Actually, that's not even factually correct, as there are more than one bands represented on this work, which AMG tells me (in a phone conversation earlier this morning) was built from sessions spanning 1970 to 1974. Coulda fooled me though - it all sounds mighty good to these ears! Although water still won't drain from my right ear, so it sounds kind of muffled to that one. The left one is fine though. Say - last night I dreamt that Kevin Rutmanis and Mark E. Smith came over to my house for a party, and I got upset because I thought somebody had stolen all my Jandek CDs. It was stressful! I was so glad when the alarm went off and I woke up to find myself naked in high school with an exam coming up and my teeth falling out.

HOWEVER, as many wonderful riffs and groovedivesoapdishes as you'll find on this double-disc of yesteryear, the songs are all far, far too long. I know that jazz improv jams tend to cruise along for a piece due to the musicians having fun playing together onstage, but when you're sitting on one or two chords for 13, 16, 18 minutes, no matter how cool your licks are, they're going to lose their novelty after a while. I mean, two of these songs are THIRTY-TWO MINUTES LONG!!!! Who the hell puts TWO 32-minute songs on the same album? I don't think even Yes has done that yet!

Although I've provided a truly groundbreaking and ultra-complete synopsis of this record, I know that some of you have special needs, and I don't even mean the retards. Specifically, if you're planning to sell your copy on ebay, buyers might find it more compelling if you include brief descriptions of each song. As such, this next section is presented as a public service. Be sure to credit them to "Mark Prindle, Online Music Critic Whose Web Site Traffic Has Somehow Jumped To 3300 Individual Visitors And 30,000 Click-Throughs Per Day." Thanks!

"He Loved Him Madly" - A 32-minute forboding ambient piece driven by eerie guitar chords of cursery, moody delayed flutes of flagellation, scary echoey trumpets of trepidation. Sounds like early post-Syd Pink Floyd - that kind of creepiness. Except if Pink Floyd had done it, it would be called "We Loved Him Madly" and would be their 40 billionth tribute to Syd Barrett.

"Maiysha" - 15 minutes of groovy lounge jazz with mellow Santana chord changes, a dipsy-doodle bass line and an organ screaming its head off through a wah-wah pedal. Perfect for really fucking loud bachelor pads!

"Honky Tonk" - Sort of a novelty riff that turns into slow blues-rock. Goofy but fun too! At least it has a melody, which can't be said for a single song Miles recorded during his Cool Jazz period debacle.

"Rated X" - Possibly the best song on here, at a scant 7 minutes. Phenomenal pulsating rhythm with about five gajillion percussion instruments, loud organ blasts, threatening wah guitars and a general feeling of brooding and intensity that will have you clawing your fake skin off with fear, you damned Space Lizard

"Calypso Frelimo" - This frenetic sweaty fusion boogie will have your ass movin' and head jivin' for 10 minutes straight!!! Unfortunately, the song then continues for an additional 22.

"Red China Blues" - Only 4 minutes long and still wears out its welcome mat. At any rate, who'da thunk you'd be able to hear a straightforward electric blues song on a Miles Davis Official Jazz record? It has a harmonica and everything! Usually I despise this type of music, but in THIS context, it's like a Super Special Surprise (SSS)!

"Mtume" - Possibly the best song on here, at a mountainous 15 minutes. Greeeeeeeeeeeeat three-note descending rock bass line, bongos a-flappin', ringy bells, somebody beating on glasses or metal bars, three wah guitars, loud as shit organ - man, it's WORTH 15 minutes! Boogie-loo away! Who ever said Miles Davis couldn't write a kickass song???

Well yes, me. But who ELSE???

"Billy Preston" This 12-minute tribute to the legendary fifth Beatle (Pete Best) finds Miles' band of gypsies playing a phunky percussiony Africanized What's Happening?-style summer urban dance groove with pong-pong effects, weird 'boo-woo' noises (talking drums?) and wiggly warbly trumpet honks, all in tribute to Stu Sutcliffe, the legendary fifth Beatle (George Martin).

Well, that's it! That's all the songs we have in the place! Unless of course, you'd like to try....

the CRUEL songs....

Did you like that? That was my Steve Martin reference of the day! From now on, I'm going to do a Steve Martin reference every single day. I've got so many ideas, I'm filled with air pockets! I don't want to give anything away, but you might want to examine your daughter's vagina more closely than usual tomorrow -- because there might just be a "Wild And Crazy Guy" up there!

Add your thoughts?


Dark Magus: Live At Carnegie Hall - Sony 1977.
Rating = 4

I'll leave my main synopsis to a guy who actually PLAYED on this CD, David Liebman. In his own words in the CD booklet, "In the past few years, several recordings of live concerts during my tenure have been released which I do think better represent the band. But there is no such thing as a bad night on this level, just possibly not an inspired one." He's right. This was NOT an inspired night. This is a 1974 live double-album featuring four fusion jazz/rock songs. One of these songs is awesome - "Wili" has an unforgettable bass line, scragglin' double-dosed percussion and loads of neat bits popping out of Miles and his band (which featured THREE GUITARISTS at this show!). But the other three songs are all just polyrhythms with crap piled on top. If you're interested in percussion, you'll love these tunes - but aside from the drums and such (featuring percussionist Mtume - is this the very same Mtume who hit it big in the 80s with a song about getting her rug chewed?), there's nothing to listen to! The bass lines are like two notes, you can't really hear more than one guitarist and even then only once in a while, and the brass folks aren't exactly lighting up the sky with their ingenuity. Just more pig-like oinking. I give drummer Al Foster and Mtume an 8 for keeping my butt bouncing to and fro for the entireness of the set, but the rest of the band gets a 0. They might as well have stayed home but for "Wili."

Add your thoughts?


Agharta - Columbia 1976.
Rating = 7

Oh sweet Agharta and the life you live. You were recorded live in Chinkville, Japan in 1975 and you feature Sonny Fortune, Michael Henderson, Pete Cosey, Reggie Lucas, Al Foster and Mtume (on conga, percussion, water drum and rhythm box!) and your cover art was by Elena Pavlov. You are a fusion album with some nice bass lines and such. You sound similar to all these other fusion albums I've been reviewing, but not a shitty one. You are a double-album and a lot of you relishes the life of wild wacky percussion while other parts of you are quieter and feature a nice flute. You claim that Miles Davis plays organ, but perhaps you mean that he plays WITH his organ. You are a good album. You are a rock and roller. Your musicians come together a lot with intelligent syncopation and quiet/loud dichotomies that seem to fly out of nowhere but work wonders on my mind. As always, your drums kick ass. You are my friend. You don't bore me with endless dicking around like most of Miles Davis' records do. You are a moody, raucous experience in soundscaping and African-type shuffling. You should reconsider changing your name to Bill. You are a left-wing pinko son of a whore. Lick me, Agharta. Lick me in my asshole. I like you.

Reader Comments

jhoward33@hotmail.com (James Howard)
Hi,

I listen to a lot of jazz and was interested to hear what you have to say about the music even though I disagree with a lot of what you have to say.

The racist comment that you make in your Agharta review though is offensive and totally un-called for and I think you should seriously consider removing it.

Matti.Alakulju@upm-kymmene.com
I actually like this album a lot, and I can tell you the reason why. You see there are million miles (heh) long pieces that some people sure find very boring. There are repetitive funky bass lines, lots of weird synth noises, rattling creepy percussion etc. But I absolutely LOVE the guitar player here! His name is Pete Cosey, I think, and the moments when he comes in - it's so coooool! He has a very distorted wah-wah deranged sound and he plays very weird blues-based solos on top of this jungle boogie. Actually I'm quite surprised that Mark didn't mention this guitar playing, because that's what he's been missing all the way in these Miles Davis reviews.

Another point, I'm sure that I can hear echoes of "Concierto De Aranjuez" around the 40-minute mark on disc 2. That's very interesting

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Pangaea - Columbia 1975
Rating = 2

2005 - Check this out. I don't know how many of you memorized my Frank Zappa Piqantique review, but it included a touching reminiscence of my youthful childhood days growing up in Danbury Village, Norcross, GA, 70s/80s. It was the kind of thing that Wilford Brimley would read to you on one of his famous commercials that you hear about. So imagine my surprise last week when I received an email from a certain somebody expressing sadness that I had used this moving anecdote to publicly label him a "druggie" for all the world to see. I felt quite bad about this of course - a person's youthful indiscretions are no reason to smear his name all over the Internet as if I owned the guy - and immediately removed the reference. So fantasize my unexpectingness when just two days later I received a telephone call from ANOTHER certain somebody threatening legal action if I didn't remove the part of my heartwarming anecdote in which I called him a "cokehead"! Christ! Can't a guy write a warm'n'fuzzy tribute to his old neighborhood anymore!? I finally just said, "F**c**** it all!" and erased the whole paragraph. Which is a shame because I was really looking forward to hearing from Michael Isaacs.

Here's something else hilarious that you've probably never noticed unless your name is Kyle. I'm 'monitoring' a media interview at work right now and the reporter guy asked my client 'Kyle' to spell his name for him. And as Kyle spelled out "K-Y-L-E," I realized that it totally rhymes with "KY Jelly"!!! Try it! You'll like it! I almost busted in on the interview and shouted, "HAY, BLOOMBERG GUY! HIS NAME RHYMES WITH 'KY JELLY'!!! WHAT AN ASSHOLE!!!! HA HA HA HA!!! FARRRRRT!" but I need my job.

My BLOW job, that is!!! HA HAH AHAH WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

But let's talk Miles Davis. Unless you're measuring TALENT, in which case "Miles Davis? More like INCHES Davis, if you ask me!!!"

Although Inches Davis recorded Agharta on the exact same day (in February 1975) at the exact same venue (Japan's Osaka Festival Hall) with the exact same line-up (Sonny "Wheela" Fortune, Pete "Warmen" Cosey, Reggie "Henry Lee" Lucas, Al Foster "Home," Michael "Actress Florence" Henderson "Who Played Carol Brady On TV's 'The Brady Bunch'," and James "Dig" Mtume) as Agharta, apparently they'd blown their wad of chewing gum on the floor by the evening show because this nonsense bleeds dung. The first track, "Zimbabwe," is a 41-minute funky mess of crap with one chord, the second ("Gondwana") a 47-minute ever-changing-but-never-improving compendium of (a) three dull chords and a flute, (b) a mellow trumpet solo, (c) a romantic summer's eve (douche), (d) quiet popping and clicking, (e) an inoffensive lazy groove, (f) a smooth keyboard wash, (g) a dark blues jam, (h) a hippy-land jazz guitar melody with horn, and (i) by that point I'd stopped paying much attention. I'll give "Gondwana" this: at least when a passage doesn't catch fire, the band actually makes an effort to segue into a different piece of music. "Zimbabwe" just ditzes along like The Worst Jam Band Of All Time, without a care or melody in the world.

Guitar soloing to hell, bass nearly inaudible, cymbals so loud you'd might as well implant one in your ear, drums banging every which way -- I mean, if you don't CARE about melody and just like hearing a bunch of people making noise around one chord for half an hour, feel free. But don't invite ME over that day!!!!

Okay, you can invite me over that day.

Great, it's settled! I'll be there at 2. Should I bring my own copy so we can pretend it's Zaireeka?

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The Man with the Horn - Columbia 1981
Rating = 4

2011 - And then, with his masterpiece Pangaea behind him, Miles retired from music altogether, telling his biographer Ashley Con "I've reached perfection with my terrible Pangaea album." Then one day five years later, he got a boner and knew he must tell the world about it. "I am no one but I am well-known 'cause I am the man with the horn!" he decried. Then he fucked a trumpet for 45 minutes and here's your album.

The '80s were a corny time filled with corny production techniques and an industry-wide belief that nobody would ever buy a record of any genre if it didn't have keyboards on it. Perhaps the latter issue didn't affect Miles Davis since he'd always relied on the kindness of ivory ticklers, but the former was nigh inescapable! So The Man With The Boner sounds so '80s it's ridiculous.

Album-opener "Fat Time" tells you all you need to know, sounding like the theme to an unaired Bill Cosby sitcom with its goodtime slap bass and Steve Vai-styled commercial metal guitar licks. The LP gets no less dated as it goes, bringing you more cheeseball funk-pop than a Gino Vanelli/Red Hot Chili Peppers collaboration (incidentally one of the few concepts that might result in the Chili Peppers sucking even WORSE). Some of it's catchy enough -- the uptempo "Shout," for example, will get your butt grooving and feet moving, even if they're ashamed of themselves for doing so -- but that old Miles Davis coooool is only present in two songs. This paragraph's already too long though so I'll tell you about them in the next paragraph.

PENIS!

There, I got you to read the word "Penis." Good night.

Best,
Jesus Christ
Saviour, VP of Marketing
Heaven

P.S. If it's that crazy old '70s Fusion you're after, check out "Aida"! That father figure's got some crazyass guitar chords and shuffly jigawig! You might even mistake it for '80s King Crimson if you don't have any ears!

P.P.S. If it's that crazy old '50s Bop/Cool you're after, check out "Ursula"! That mother trucker's got no melody at all, but dig that walking electric bass oh yeah!

P.P.P.S. I have a new job which, though I'm very happy with it, requires me to work long hours. I am also nurturing my first (and hopefully only) post-separation relationship. Between the two, I have very little free time. And that which I do have, I have no urge to spend writing record reviews. So I don't know what's going to happen. Maybe I'll take a lengthy hiatus until things level out a bit more. I think that'd probably be a better idea than simply churning out half-assed reviews like this one.

P.P.P.P.S. If it's stunningly atrocious r'n'b ballads with lyrics about Miles Davis you're after, check out "The Man with The Horn"! I'm particularly fond of the refrain "Blow on! Blow on!" because Miles certainly does blow. Also it kinda reminds me of the way Nick Cave screams "FLAME ON! FLAME ON!" in "Sonny's Burning." Except instead of Nick Cave screaming, it's the world's least masculine black person singing in falsetto.

Also -- hey, what the hell is that!? PHILANTHROPY!? FUCK YOU!!!

Best,
Steve Jobs
Dead Asshole

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Star People - Columbia 1983
Rating = 5

2011 - Star People is much less '80s-funk-mothballs than its predecessor, focusing instead on '60s blues and '70s fusion while retaining the overly clean '80s mix. Weird chords continue to make the grade, with the fast funky "Come Get It," frappy dancey two-bass-noter "Speak" and strange, tense "Star On Cicely" bringing back fond memories of the way Agharta and I made sweet, smelly love back in the cold wasteful '70s.

In fact, I wrote a song about it. Please pass this along to Dick Clark's decaying corpse:

I grabbed an album, jammed in my pud
And out of the wound gushed a gallon of blood!
Surprised, I dropped a carton of eggs
And now I've got babies from my feet to my legs!

It's not all butter nuts and squash though. Star People has also got the blooooooooze. From its low-down dirty boogie-woogie head to the bottom of its lemon-squeezing back door man shooooooooes. "It Gets Better" (it doesn't) is a TEN-MINUTE blues ballad! The title track is a NINETEEN-MINUTE blues ballad! I hope you're not planning to go to Heaven, because that's 29 minutes of God's least favorite musical genre right there.

So that's three tracks of fusion and two tracks of bluesin', leaving only one six-minute song to fill your ears with the odious yet hilarious sounds of '80s funk-pop. But it's a GOOD one! "U'n'I" is playful, lopey-dopey and driven by an oft-recurring trumpet hook so catchy it'll make your teeth dance the Stretch!

I couldn't think of an ending to that sentence.

I can't think of an ending to this review.

I can't think of a way to ask you to add your thoughts


Decoy - Columbia 1984
Rating = 2

2011 - Have you ever been under so much stress that you feel like your life is barrelling down on you like a king-size mattress full of wasps? I am currently under an astronomical amount of pressure, and feel completely alone in trying to combat it. I wish I could simply view it as a challenge and meet it with energized determination, but it's nerve-wracking. Have you ever had somebody grab your nerve and wrack it? It's like that, but emotionally so.

Am I stupid? I don't think so. I'm just better at certain tasks than others. And I'm becoming very frustrated. This has nothing to do with my girlfriend, or with my dog passing away. It's something else entirely. Something that should be good but is turning out to be much more difficult than anticipated. Nothing I do seems to be working. It's difficult. And it's incredibly stressful. I'm talking, of course, about reviewing Miles Davis' Decoy LP.

I was absolutely thrilled when I received an unexpected offer to write Miles Davis reviews full time, but little did I know that the person I was replacing had neglected three key albums for several months prior, meaning that from the getgo I was expected to (a) learn everything there is to know about the albums, their competitors and the issues affecting their subgenres, (b) prepare creative forward-looking business plans for each, and (c) get them all reviewed as quickly as possible -- preferably multiple times -- to make up for the months of inactivity my predecessor left for me. Worse yet, none of the skills I've honed over 15 years of writing reviews seem to be having any success at all!

It doesn't matter how I pitch Decoy -- nobody cares. Nobody responds to my emails or takes my calls. And why should they? Everybody knows this album came out 17 years ago and hasn't had any new announcements in the interim. Even more damningly, everybody already knows it's an inferior product. Nobody wants a telephone briefing about its corny synth-funk slap bass, nobody wants more information about its BRAPP BRAPP '80s synths, and obviously nobody will allow it to submit a bylined article about the importance of cheesy guitar solos. I'm trying so hard to do a good job, but these Miles Davis albums are such difficult accounts!

Take "Robot 415" for example. For the first 40 seconds, its odd time signature and robotic instrumental interplay sound so much like King Crimson you can almost hear Robert Fripp saying something condescending. Then, without warning, the interplay goes away and the second half sucks to this wall. Talk about an endless blockade for pussyfooter!

I got a couple nibbles about the frantic funky Primusy slap bass of "What It Is" and "That's What Happened," but even those respondents lost interest once they found out about the sub-Faltermeyer BRAPP BRAPPer "Code M.D." and 11-minute blues bore "That's Right" (which bears no similarity to ZZ Top's "Manic Mechanic," and is ALL THE WORSE FOR IT).

In short, Decoy is a noisy boring mess of shit redeemed only by a few minutes of energetic slappin' da bass, mon. But how can I tell the client that? I have to keep trying. I have to think harder, be smarter. My goal for tomorrow is to study up on all the latest issues and attitudes surrounding the jazz sector in order to develop some truly creative new angles for positioning Miles Davis to a wide variety of consumer and trade audiences. I don't care if it takes all night, gonna set this town alight. Come on! WHAT DO YOU WANT!? WHAT DO YOU WANT!?

I just wish I hadn't missed the first 66 years of the account.

Reader Comments

Bob Screw of the Bob Screw Eucalyptus Boat America Hotel Contest
Hey Mark! You were actually talking about stress at your job, weren't you? And just using the Miles Davis album as a metaphor or allegory? I bet that's what you were doing; I know work can be very stressful, particularly during a difficult economic environment such as this one.

Also, you can call me "Bob," or you can call me "Rob"! But ya doesn't has to call me "Screw"!

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You're Under Arrest - Columbia 1985.
Rating = 7

Wherein Miles Davis, hero to jazz afficionados of all generations, pioneer and founder of cool jazz, modal jazz and fusion, sets his sights on corny Kenny G.-style synth pop/smooth jazz. This album is so bad - so funny - yet so... undeniably catchy! All the songs sound like they belong in a Police Academy movie with their goofy funk bass lines, cheesy fake drums and worthless trumpet blasts. You'll laugh hysterically as Sting portrays the "French Policeman"! (sadly, I'm not joking) The album is a complete embarrassment to Miles' legacy and a complete fun ride for anybody who doesn't take music incredibly seriously. It's all in fun - even the high-speed John McLaughlin soloing in "Katia" doesn't seem like it's meant to blow your mind - just to entertain you! And yes sir, it is an entertaining record. Never boring as it careens back and forth between catchy stupidass dance tunes and "serious" straight cover tunes of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" and Michael Jackson's "Human Nature." Starting a new elevator? Here's the perfect soundtrack! Courtesy of perhaps the most overrated jazz performer of all time!

Keep your jazz, Steven: I'll take the pathetic mid-`80s shit pop thanks!

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Aura - Columbia 1989
Rating = 5

2001 - I love danishes, so you can bet your bing-bong I was four hopes to diddly when I heard that every song on this album was composed by a Danish trumpeter named Palle Mikkelburg. Having enjoyed Miles' heartburning performance of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" one album previous, Mikkelburg saw his true colors shining through. He saw his true colors, and that's why he wrote this, ooo. Snagging a whole bunch of performers including Miles himself, Mikkelburg put together a bunch of songs named after colors he claims to have seen in Miles' aura ("White," "Yellow," "Orange," "Red," "Green," "Blue," "Electric Red," "Indigo," "Violet" and my favorite color, "Intro").

The good news is that there are some completely bonkers chords on this one, combining with strong prominent bass and hypnotic modal drone beds to create creepy foreboding moods galore. The bad news is that there are also gobs of dated electronic drums, corny metal guitar licks and shitty brappy trumpets. Also, there's a genocide going on in Armenia. Come on, "Weird Al" Yankovic, where's your Who parody "Armenia City Genocide"? America needs your laughter now more than ever.

Granted, I don't paint a lot of houses (just TONSILS for me, har har!), but I'm really confused as to how exactly any of these colorful song titles relate to their corresponding pieces of music. Here, check out a few examples:

WHITE: Evocative ambience destroyed by BRRRAAAAAPPPPPPP!!!!!! Is the trumpet supposed to sound like a polar bear taking a dump? Because it does. But that'd be white and brown.

YELLOW: I love this song. With its eerie harp, spooky Fantasia orchestra, threatening guitar feedback, trembling music box piano and gigantic blowout Foetus chords, this is seven minutes in the pitch black heart of orchestral jazz darkness. Hence, it's named after the brightest, friendliest color in the world.

ORANGE: Starts off funky and feel-good but slowly adds fast-as-a-thunderbolt guitar runs, insane chord breaks and an ascending four-note motif. The mix is total '80s cheese though -- WAIT A MINUTE! CHEESE IS ORANGE! Never mind, this one makes sense.

Oh, look at the time. Let's see -- "Red" sure ain't King Crimson, "Green" sure ain't REM, "Blue" sounds like Sting gone weird, "Indigo" is loose, impressive piano jazz like Keith Emerson showing off and blah blah blah who fucking cares.

Isn't it strange that my current life has absolutely nothing in common with the life I led between 2000 and 2009? Brenda's gone, Henry's gone, my co-op is gone, my drinking habit is gone, all my past jobs and unemployments are gone, and sometimes I feel like my web site belongs in the past too. Especially lately, I've been having a very hard time working up the interest to write any reviews at all. Finally I sat down and asked myself, "Mark, after 15 years of nonstop writing, have you finally burned out on the whole record reviews thing?"

And that's when I realized I've spent the past two months reviewing nothing but godawful Miles Davis dogshit I don't give two flying fucks about. PROBLEM SOLVED!

Also, I miss Henry The Dog. I miss him so much.

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Tutu - Warner Brothers 1986
Rating = 2

2005 - The kind of fake jazz nonsense you hear in cheap Chinese restaurants. Fake drums, fake bass, fake strings, fake orgasm, fake trumpet, fake EVERYTHING! Maybe it's just like You're Under Arrest and my sense of humor was just more acute four years ago, but this is HORRIBLE.

Indigestably lame mid-80s synthesizer tones and beats date this Miami Vice jazz back to the days of the Fat Boys, but one thing it's not is undiverse. Why, you'll find everything here from faux-pop jazz, faux-Axel F drama and faux-Pointer Sisters electro-pop to faux-reggae, faux-balladry and faux-Prince funk! Blame producer Marcus Miller if you want, but Miles is the one who greenlighted the release of this lemon. I suppose the ballad has some lovely sad moments, but the best song on here ("Full Nelson") is only good because it's so hilariously bad! Slap bass, fake horns and the dumbest little happy riff you've ever heard. Cute as a button myface! The rest, howe'er, will leave you longing for the warm acoustic tones of the New Monkees.

Reader Comments

watta502@yahoo.gr
I don't own this album, but I have listened to it once. It has nothing to do with the old classic Miles works. This is mediocre background music, except for Miles's trumpet playing there is nothing there bothering about. And it sounds awfully 80's, in a bad way. You know, cheap synths, drum machines and all that. Avoid it.

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Music From Siesta - Warner Brothers 1987
Rating = 1

2005 - I can't remember whether or not I ever shared this with you, but it's stuck in my head constantly these days so I figured I'd try to get it stuck in yours, the reader.

"The Coke Can Rolled Down The Road"
Parody of "The Old Man Down The Road" by John Fogerty
Parody Lyrics by Mark Prindle, Age 12 (Far Too Old For This Kind Of Shit)

You take a dollar from your Mom
And you go down to the store
Put a quarter in the Coke machine
And your Coke rolls out the door

You gotta follow it
You gotta jump and run
You gotta follow-ollow it
The Coke can... Rolled down the road

You see it roll right past Mr. Jones
In his lawn chair getting a tan
He asks you what you're doing and
you say, "I gotta catch that can!"

You gotta follow it
You gotta jump and run
You gotta follow-ollow it
The Coke can... Rolled down the road

You see it stop against a tree
And you know you've won the race
So you pick it up and open it
And the Coke sprays in your face

You gotta cussy-cuss
You gotta jump and run again
You gotta cussy-cussy-cuss
The Coke can... Rolled down the road
The Coke can... Rolled down the road

It is for this reason that I must award Music From "Siesta" a 1.

Also, it's terrible. It's Miles with Marcus Miller again, this time pairing their sterile soulless '80s sound with the minor chords of conflict, drama, struggle and sorrow. But see - and this should have been obvious even during the Nineteen AIDieS - you can't create a "tense" atmosphere with a bunch of cornball synth brapps. As such, every song on here winds up sounding like Phil Collins-composed adult contemporary Disney's Interchangeable Talking Animal Movie horseshit. Worse yet still is that even if performed with actual real-life instruments, these songs would suck constant dick. They're just lousy songs. Even when threatening to do something different and unique, such as the spaghetti western approach of "Siesta" or the sensitive classical guitar picking intro of "Claire," the songs inevitably turn out overwrought, underwritten, overlong, underwhelming, overweight and underwear. HA! THE ENTIRE WORLD LOVES AN 'UNDERWEAR' JOKE! I mean, check out "Conchita/Lament" -- am I a duck with a pinwheel up my ass or are those the absolute faggotassiest synth tones ever used in a "serious" composition? And that slap bass! And that dumb fake percussion! Urgh! (a music war!) And what's with the big dumb delay effect on the sax? And don't even try to tell me that "Submission" doesn't sound like a bad jazz B-side to "Do They Know It's Christmastime?" unless you're talking about the Sex Pistols song in which case you're right.

You know, I've been sitting here at work for 20 minutes without any broads coming in to offer me a BJ. At first I thought I must be losing my love touch, but then it finally occurred to me: I'm listening to a Journey CD! Ah yes, Journey. Current track is "Separate Ways," but it's about to end so don't get too attached to my mention of it. Ahh yeah, HERE we go! "When the lights go down in the city, and the sun shines on the bay - Ooo I wanna be there-eee-yer-er-ere in my city. Oh! Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh!"

Wait a minute - what the fuck kind of verse is that? Here I am thinking of Steve Perry as a modern-day Grimm Brothers and he's rhyming "city," "bay," "city" and "oh"? Yeah, UP MY ASS maybe those words rhyme!!!! But here in the real world, that's just stupid. He could easily have written "Oh I wanna be there suckin' titty" or "takin' shitty" or something, but no. Instead he pulls a Steve Miller and leaves us all feeling sick and unfinished. Thanks for nothing, Steve "Refrigerator" Perry!

As for Music From Siesta, I think it's the soundtrack to a movie. A movie that you may want to watch with the sound turned all the way down and the volume knob ripped off and burned in a horrible fire.

Reader Comments

matthewbyrd@hotmail.com
first!

hilarious review

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Amandla - Warner Bros. 1989
Rating = 2

2011 - A PICTORIAL REVIEW


"Catembe"


"Cobra"


"Big Time"


"Hannibal"


"Jo-Jo"


"Amandla"


"Jilli"


"Mr. Pastorius"

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Dingo (with Michel LeGrand) - Warner Bros. 1991
Rating = 5

2011 - Named after famous Beatles drummer Dingo Starr, Dingo is the soundtrack for a movie that a guy on IMDB calls "A thinking-person's Crocodile Dundee." Starring Colin Friels as an eccentric Australian crocodile poacher and Miles Davis as the female American reporter who wins his heart, DingDong h

The film features Colin Friels as an Australian trumpet player who dreams of playing in Paris, and Miles Davis as a sucky trumpet player sucking like he always sucks, but on film instead of album this time.

Look, here's my impression of Miles Davis' tone:

"PhhhBERRRRRRRRRRRREREphehewwoooo PhhBRAAAAPPPPPPph phHPpph."

Is that what you call "lyrical, personal and intimate"? It's what I call "failing to blow enough air out of your lungs to retain a note for more than two seconds." In fact, if Miles Davis were in the room with me right now, I'd urinate all over his face.

As a favor, I mean. To get those pesky maggots out of his eyesockets.

The soundtrack was written by keyboardist Michel Legrand and performed by trumpeters Miles Davis and Chuck Findley along with roughly four million other musicians. The totally boner thing about the record is that it's chiefly old-timey melodic jazz, but with really strong, clear '90s production! Plus, Michel has written some truly enjoyable material here, particularly the swingin' speedealer "Concert on the Runway," coooool bass walker "Paris Walking I," funky double-trumpet "Club Entrance" and, best of all, the hooky as hell hum-alongs "The Arrival," "The Departure," "The Dream" and "Going Home" -- or, as I like to call them, "The Arrival," "The Arrival Again," "The Second Arrival Again" and "Write A New Song You Fucking Asshole."

A few snippets of film dialogue are included on the musical disc, and it's interesting to note that Miles Davis sounds exactly like Billy Crystal's beloved jazzman character "Face," as featured on the April 17, 1976 episode of Saturday Night Live and then again a full decade later on his 1985 Mahvelous! LP, because the character was that hilarious and timeless. Actually, it probably shouldn't surprise me that Miles Davis sounds like Billy Crystal's Face; after all, they're both coated in semen!!!

What's wrong with that? Masturbating onto a corpse is the sincerest form of flattery.

Say, here's something crazy about life. My wife left me in May 2010. Once she made it clear that she was not coming back, I immediately set out to accomplish three things: (1) find a new girlfriend, (2) sell my apartment, and (3) land a new job. But I couldn't. I tried to do all three, but nothing would work out. So instead, I wallowed in depression, stayed out all night, drank myself into dozens of dangerous blackouts, and cried to Henry the Dog.

After six months of this go-nowhere existence, I finally felt strong enough to enter the real world again. I signed up with three temp agencies, got back to (temp) work and opened an account with online dating service OKCupid. My second date was with a very pretty and sweet woman who loves doggies and spent her 20s working at East Village record stores. Eleven months later, we're still together.

RECAP: I didn't meet anybody for six months because I wasn't psychologically ready to. I was still crying over my failed marriage and trying to understand what went wrong. When I was finally able to fall in love again, somebody perfect fell into my life.

Three months later, my apartment sold. Because our relationship had been going so well, I decided to look for a new rental apartment near my girlfriend. Although I was warned by multiple brokers that I would never be able to find an apartment in Astoria that would allow a dog as big as Henry, I did. In fact, it was the very first apartment I looked at. And it's three blocks away from my girlfriend.

RECAP: I couldn't sell my apartment for nine months because I had nowhere to go. When I finally did have a reason for moving to a particular neighborhood, it sold. And a perfect spot opened up to replace it.

Five months later, I was still temping with no hope of finding a full-time job. Every week I checked the listings, sent in resumes and went in for interviews, but nothing would come through for me. And to be honest, I didn't really care that much because I enjoyed staying up late and spending my days taking long walks with Henry the Dog. I knew that these were his Golden Years, and I wanted him to enjoy them.

Then he got cancer. I discussed that earlier on this page, so I won't recount it. But, yet again, the craziest thing happened: one day not long after he was diagnosed, I got a call from a company that had interviewed me several months earlier: they wanted me to start immediately!

I began work the following Monday, and Henry died four nights later.

RECAP: Henry the Dog was diagnosed with kidney insufficiency at age six and given approximately two years to live. Instead, he stayed by my side, helping me to survive the loss of my wife, my job and my home until I had replaced all three, given up drinking, and reclaimed my happiness. He died one month before his eleventh birthday.

Life is pretty interesting sometimes.

Generally not when you're listening to a Miles Davis album though.

Reader Comments

Torii Bryant
Tearin' up on Miles Davis and a heartwarming Prindle tale of Prindle life. Thanks man.

Mark Pavlik
Mark, dare I say it, this review is downright touching! One of my favorites ever. Keep the faith and stay strong, and don’t write any more reviews if you’re sick of them, although you are hands down one of the funniest writers I’ve ever read You had us all scared the last couple years, but it sounds like things are starting to get better, hope the new job works out. I hope you are liking the new digs in Astoria and the neighboorhood, I’ve lived there since ’98 and it’s nice – quiet and not too far from the city.

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Doo-Bop - Warner Bros. 1992.
Rating = 4

Failing to stay hip wiht the times even as he lay on his deathcouch, Miles Standish completed his career by playing trumpet over some corny breakdance beats. Two of these crappy tracks, in fact, feature a young RAPPER rapping about Miles Davis! There are a few really fun ones (humiliating garbage, of course, but catchy in a Madonna's Erotica without her horrid lyrics way), but you'd have to be out of your buns to purchase this. It's not jazz. And it's not very entertaining. It's corny "house" beats and synths trying to sound "cool" and "hip" and "phat" with Miles playing 12-string guitar and banjo over the top. And singing fairy tale songs. And slapping people five that he made it through a good 64 years of life before going to the Great Gig In The Sky featuring Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Richard Wright, Nick Mason and one of the most grating, awful female vocalists of all time.

That's right! Helen Keller! "I am Deaf Mute, hear me mime - In numbers that don't increase over time!"

Ha ha! Fuckin' cripples!

Reader Comments

WBinder007@aol.com
Hoo boy, if there's a bad Helen Keller joke, I haven't heard it. And like someone said earlier on the page, I have to give Mark credit for reviewing these albums with little to no understanding of jazz. Personally, I'm not a huge fan, so I can understand and almost but not quite support some of his more controversial statements on this page (But definitely not the minority bashing. Seriously, enough is enough and racism is not acceptable or cool). I can appreciate the talent that goes into free-form music and respect it, but that doesn't mean I'm gonna like it.

jean_tabourot@hotmail.com
Hi, just stick to basic rock and roll review because you haven't got a fucking clue about the rest, and it makes yo ulook stupid. it's that and the 7/10 about Radiohead-the bends that makes you not very credible

nishat@austin.rr.com
Hi. I honestly believe that one who isn't at all qualified to evaluate jazz shouldn't even bother listening to Miles Davis. The impact of the music lies in the intricate format of jazz.

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Panthalassa: The Music Of Miles Davis 1969-1974 (reconstructed by Bill Laswell) - Columbia 1998
Rating = 8

2005 - When Bill Laswell isn't off producing the Ramones' Brain Drain, he often puts together an album of remixed Miles Davis material from 1969-1974. Inarguably Miles' most creative era, these years saw his bands unleashing layer upon layer of funky multi-percussion rhythms, screaming blasts of wah-wah guitar (and wah-wah TRUMPET!), brash organ screams and maniacal saxophone bleating as they made their way the only way they knew how, even if it was a little bit more than the law would allow. Just them good old boys, wouldn't change if they could; fighting the system like a new modern-day Sandra Good.

On this album, which you can find on the indie imprint Columbia, William Laswell puts the swizzle-swirly stick to several tracks from In A Silent Way, On The Corner and Get Up With It, creating four 15-minute sonic experiences that comprise possibly the most solid album of Miles Davis material available anywhere. The 33-minute Pink Floydian "He Loved The Fuck Out Of That Guy" has been shunken to a more manageable quarter-hour. The gorgeous guitarwork, celestial flourishes, beautiful trumpet melody, groovy two-note bass line and awesome organ chords of In A Silent Way (the entire album) are compressed to a single, exciting as shit and diverse as snowflakes 15-minute song. Sources indicate that Laswell even found some unreleased portions of tape and added those bits in. Other sources, who despise my first sources, indicate that Laswell also added in some hums and sitars of his own. I wish my sources would get together, call a truce and help lead the way to a universal harmony in which we can all find peace, but you know what they say: "Moral indignation is just jealousy with a halo." Have truer words ever been spoken? Probably so, since it's just an opinion. On the subject of opinions, wouldn't it be awesome if "Weird Al" Yankovic released a parody of the entire In A Silent Way album entitled In A Soylent Way? It could be a bunch of accordions groovin' out with the sounds of people chewing as percussion, and would sell a cool mint easily! Hell, he could probably even get Charlton Heston to take part. Or Chuck Connors maybe. At very least, I'm sure Dick Van Patten's not doing anything, and a reprisal of his stirring role as Usher #1 would tickle heartstrings from here to Zimbabwe. Oh! That reminds me -- Happy Birthday, His Excellency Cde R.G. Mugabe! You go girl! Fuck an Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo!

If you're a rock fan looking for a sampler of Miles' most rock-oriented material, look no far-er. "Rated X/Billy Preston" gets stuck in an uninteresting groove for a bit too long, but the other three tracks are perfect expressions of the genius that fusion jazz musicians could create when inspired, edited down into easily ear-digestible ear-chunks free of the conscienceless 40-minute jams that these sorts of get-togethers are so prone to creating. Thank you, Bill Laswell!

Also, thank you for doing the worst job of any Ramones producer in history! Say -- why don't you make the drums sound even MORE boxy and amateurish?

Speaking of boxy and amateurish, how about Paris Hilton's vagina, eh? Who's with me?

Reader Comments

decchr31@hotmail.com
I have to agree with a lot of your jazz reviews. I don't hate jazz, but it strikes me as more of a musical form that should be experienced live. The improvisation doesn't always translate so well to records, not when it comes right after a few bars of obviously constructed melody. It's not that improvisation is bad, but it needs to be worked into the flow of the song, otherwise the whole composition sounds lazy. And some of this stuff does sound lazy. That doesn't mean other albums aren't great, but you know...not everything stands the test of time and not every artist is perfect. People love to trash certain Beatles stuff (especially McCartney), but apparently it's a sin to say Miles Davis is imperfect. Jazz is imperfect. It's just a genre, and acting like it's so superior to rock or pop is just as ignorant as dismissing jazz. Jazz doesn't make you more literate.

A lot of people are nailing you for your reviews, obviously. But if they think Miles Davis is so great, then why does your differing opinion bother them? Shouldn't they be confident enough in their beliefs if he really is that great? Pretty much, yeah. It's nice to see someone willing to admit that they don't worship Miles Davis, even if they "should." Who cares?

Myself, I like Bitches Brew and Sketches of Spain. Can't stand Birth of the Cool. It's obnoxious and dull.

More than that, I like Sun Ra. That's the one for me.

thepublicimage79@hotmail.com
You may be a rock critic, but you sure as hell aren't a jazz critic.

At least you gave "Get Up With It" something of a decent review.

mixxer@safsrbija.com
Those are some great reviews.

Some of your best writing, IMO. Serious while joking suits you much better than joking all the time with a bit of seriousness.

romesp@gmail.com (Rod Meade Sperry)
i am with you about this record. it rules.

i am also with you about Paris Hilton's vagina. though it doesnt rule.

jimbobbil@gmail.com
I hate jazz too, but you've GOT to check out this album:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0000668M1/qid=1129216467/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl15/102-5068595-7345768?v=glance&s=music&n=507846

It's this great big huge improv thing but it's FULL of loud cool noises and played really fast and oh dude I hated jazz until this. If you're a rock fan, do yourself a favour and hear the record (if you haven't already). I suppose it leans further towards the Bitches Brew fusion stuff, but like I said, faster and louder and FULLER. Maybe it isn't even jazz at all! But if this is "free jazz" it sure beats the crap out of Eric Dolphy's Out of Lunch (which is still much better than Kind Of Blue).

Oh, here's the review that persuaded me to buy on impulse:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000668M1/026-4064098-2372425

If it doesn't whup your ass, oh well. Heaven's not for EVERYONE I guess!

Hermit1967@aol.com (Eric)
I like rock as much as the next guy. Let's face it though, it's a pretty limited style. I'll get right to the point. If you don't know anything about chord voicings or progressions, or if you can't tell when someone is developing musical ideas through them, then jazz won't make sense to you. For that matter, classical music or Indian Carnatic music won't make sense to you either. Some of us need a little more than the same 50 rock and blues cliche licks for 35 minutes at a stretch.

drquatermass@hotmail.com (Andy Williams)
Mark: It's me, Andy. I'm sure you remember me from your youth. Another former friend told me about your site a couple of months ago, but I just got around to perusing it. Nothing extraordinary really, certainly nothing that moved to respond on your site. Until I read your reviews of Miles Davis...Not that I read all the reviews. I probably would have vomited had I done that. Your review actually started out quite good. To quote: "I don't relly understand jazz at all." That's fine. That's where it should have ended. Because an intelligent man, and not just a man who thinks he's intelligent, never writes about a subject he's ignorant of and doesn't understand. But that did't stop you. Why should it? The Web is your medium, and the Web is not, despite the hype, a source of knowledge and information.

No, it is a screaming, mindless hive of opinion, constant, ceaseless opinion. Every half-educated troglodyte thinks they're a music critic or a movie critic or a book critic (those that read). The wonderful thing about the Web is everyone and anyone can participate. The horrible thing about the Web is everyone and anyone can participate. It's the kind of place where even an insignificant office drone with absolutely no musical (or literary) talent can denigrate one of the greatest musicians and composers of this or any other century. And do it in review after review. You see, this is where a little brevity might have useful. A more succinct, accurate review may have gone something like this: "ME NO UNDERSTAND JAZZ! COMPLEX MUSICAL STRUCTURES CONFUSE PRINDLE! MAKE HEAD HURT! ME GET ANGRY WHEN ME GET CONFUSED!" In shot, you're out of your depth my boy. Stick with the talentless clanging of Crass, or the popular stupidities of Kiss. Eight stars for Kiss Alive? Let me ask you Prindle, when is a live album not really a live album? When the musicians are so fucking inept that almost the entire album has to be re-recorded in studio. Stick with Gene and the boys, Mark. They're more your league. Leave Miles Davis to those who understand brilliant improvisation, nuance, subtlety, beauty. I shouldn't be so angry about this. You are, after all, just more white noise, lost in the din of the hive. But there is something singularly contemptible about an arrested adolescent with a big record collection hurling insults at an artistic genius. Then again, I guess it's more amusing than anything else. Much like a Pigmy throwing pebbles at one of the Great Pyramids. It is some consolation that the music of Miles Davis is timeless, and MarkPrindle.com will not, I'm afraid, last quite so long. To sum up, It's so nice not to be friends with you anymore. But could you post the name of that guy you used to work with, the author of the book on 'Kind of Blue'? He certainly has some musical intelligence, and he seems to be an astute judge of character.

jimbobbil@gmail.com
I just read the guy's comment above, which despite its relative brevity still manages to drip with conceit.

"Every half-educated troglodyte thinks they're a music critic or a movie critic or a book critic (those that read)."

Credentials mean nothing. Got something to say about a record? Got an opinion? Great, you're all set to be a critic. Got a unique opinion? Even better! To be able to put this down on paper/HTML in an entertaining manner is The Greatest Gift by Scratch Acid that a writer could have. I think Prindle's latest batch of Miles Davis reviews did that well, even if a few of the previous ones were crap (but oftentimes funny!). But what you seem to be implying is that it's not Mark's writing at fault, but his opinion, as if not enjoying jazz or understanding the technicalities excludes one from the topic. Educated or no, an opinion is an opinion and every single one on this page is valid. But there's nothing worse than a snob and Mark hasn't exactly rammed his opinions down anyone's throat like you have:

"Leave Miles Davis to those who understand brilliant improvisation, nuance, subtlety, beauty. I shouldn't be so angry about this. You are, after all, just more white noise, lost in the din of the hive."

Who knows? In an alternate universe, where Miles Davis is universally panned by the majority, Andy Williams would probably have to go to much greater lengths in arguing the merits of, say, Kind Of Blue than this stupid condescending music scholar quote.

And Mark, have you heard McCoy Tyner's Sahara? That's a pretty good record that everyone calls Jazz, but it's pretty much all interplay if you ask me. Check it out if you're not tired of jazz yet.

hlim4043@bigpond.net.au (Johnny Murgatroyd)
Hey Mark

I agree with your assessment of Miles’ fusion albums, except I don’t like Silent Way. If you like Bitches Brew, you MUST get the Isle of Wight concert on DVD – the DVD is titled “Miles Electric”. Same tracks as Bitches Brew, but much more violent. It’s sick, dark, churning funk with unbelieveably intense soloes.

david.clarke1@sympatico.ca
Great site. I notice that you haven't taken to most of the jazz you've reviewed. If there's any "jazz" album guaranteed to win over rock listeners its The Mahavishnu Orchestra's "The Inner Mounting Flame." This album has some decidedly prog rock leanings, but it's very much in the rock vein, and it's pretty amazing stuff. Given your preference for punk and indie, I'm not sure you'll be dazzled by the talent of the musicians (I totally agree that you don't have to be a great musician to make great music), but John McLaughlin (guitar) and Billy Cobham (drums) are two of the best at their instruments ever. Check it out -- iTunes has it for $7.92 (in Canada) and if you want to sample it, "The Dance of Maya" makes a great choice.

michaelwfhowe@hotmail.com (Mike)
If you can't get in to Miles Davis, which is fair enough, try Charles Mingus. Still jazz, but more tuneful and earthy. I prefer him.

matthewbyrd@hotmail.com
Heh, for a man of such taste and refinement you'd think Andy Williams would completely understand that Mark is not insulting Davis at all. He clearly stated that he did not understand Davis' music at all and so, therefore, is obviously not capable of judging it in a way that someone would if they could understand the "brilliant improvisation, nuance, subtlety, beauty" of this type of music. So, Mark judged it the way he does best, like a rock/pop (and whatever other genres) critic and scaled Davis' performances on scale used for measuring songwriting skills and melody, not improvisation. By rating Miles' works very low compared to other "incompetant" artists Prindle is not insulting Miles at all, he's merely using the wrong scale to judge Miles Davis and he rates so low because Miles' strengths do not lie in the areas of... oh, say where the Beatles' are so Miles' strengths are actually not even reviewed at all because, as Mark said, he did not understand them, and so, are totally unreviewed because the only aspect of Miles' music that is reviewed is the side that appeals to the rock n roll junkie! The funny thing is, I'd bet Miles would get a kick out of Marks analysis's of his albums. He'd probably wanna smack senor Andy Williams.

gkkramer@gmail.com (Kolby Kramer)
I read on your site that something missing out of jazz for you is lack of guitar work. Might I suggest a more Rock-oriented Jazz ensemble, entitled The Mahavishnu Orchestra? The guitarist, John McLaughlin, was the very guitarist on Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew," and is the main cause behind the more "exploratory rock" sound you hear. I can give you a list of their best albums (all of which from the first line-up of the band):

1. The Inner Mounting Flame
2. Birds of Fire
3. Between Nothingness and Eternity
4. The Lost Trident Sessions

You can look into the later work of the second incarnation of the group, as well as the others, but nothing will compare to the work of the first line-up. Hope you enjoy.

spamking@mts.net
Is the Andy Williams in question the same Andy Williams who runs the Faust pages? If so, it's a bit surprising that he's failing to grasp the blatantly absurdist nature of a lot of the humour contained within the PrindleSite (tm). If not: Sorry, Andy Williams who runs the Faust pages.

Additionally: I am a little tipsy, and about to take a nap. But, before I do. The new Stooges album is far worse than Mark thinks it is (there are two good songs, and one is a rewrite of the other. Steve Albini should have lined up all of the Stooges and punched them all directly in the cock for asking him to engineer the recording of the rest of the songs). The new Fall album is a bit better than Mark thinks it is. I would easily rate it above The Marshall Suite, which was, in essence, two very good singles and a bunch of average, but somewhat forgettable and generic New Fall Songs (tm). Quite possibly the ratings for both albums need to be revisited, as Reformation Post TLC is not a 9, should be more than Marshall Suite. As such, I propose the following: Reduce Marshall to 7, increase Reformation to 8. It is, in fact, the equal of Unutterable and Are You Are Missing Winner?

tomplotkin@sbcglobal.net
So when are you going to start sharing your thoughts with us on opera and classical music? I can't wait...

waymocoolboppin@yahoo.com
You are an IDIOT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Stick to what you know.

Which is very little I'll bet.

redgirlsf2@yahoo.com
Are you serious? Jazz is Americas "ONLY ART FORM". But if you dont get it,then you just dont. I've been into Jazz since I was 12 yrs old in up state NY. I just cant believe you dont "get it". I like Lead Zepplin and some of those Rock guys,yeah,I can dig on them and lots of British groups. OK,wont bore you any more.
Love, Barbara . PS,luv To The Bone/Jamiroquai

chrischahfer@yahoo.com
Okay, so I'm somewhat of a Miles Davis fanatic. However, I do respect you for giving your honest, unbiased opinion of him, rather than pretending to like him just to look "cool" (the way Rolling Stone does). Jazz simply isn't for everyone. That's not meant to be a condescending, "ivory tower" statement - it's just a plain fact. I'm glad you like In a Silent Way, too. That's a favorite of mine.

I like Metallica and Miles Davis. How crazy is that?

SamSmith928@msn.com
Jazz is the only true classical music of America. As Charles Mingus said of Mozart, Beethoven, Bach or Schubert, they were all pencil composers. The true backbone of America is spontaneity and individualism. The rest can then follow the lead. Jimi Hendrix at times sounds like a cornholed hillbilly compared to ANY of Miles Davis or Gil Evans' improvisations. Your reviews are all worthless to me and I guess you can go back to your adolescent, androgynized titty-rock, ho hip hop or whatever. BTW Royal Crown or Brylcreem was not poop.

(about a year later)

I can whistle ANY Miles Davis composition and feel exhilaration. Most rock tunes that I whistle cause me to develop cavities.

Peter Morgan
Hey man, you start to dig jazz once you get a little older and actually learn to play that guitar,bass, or drums you have spent the last fifteen years pissing around with. Suddenly you realise how boring most rock music is to play and can't resist having a dig at something a little more challenging.

Then after a while you realise that jazz is musos music and most of it is pretty dull to listen to if you are not trying to master playing it, and return to collecting rythm and blues. Anyone unfamiliar with jazz looking for a place to start might try "the futuristic sounds of Sun Ra".Most rock fans will find something in that album.

Jorgon Gorgon
So, my two cents are simple:

1.I love jazz, actually, although Miles Davis is not my favourite (on trumpet, that would be Stanko or Molvaer).

2.I love Prindle's reviews; nothing that can makes you laugh can be all that bad, and I actually agree with quite a few points.

3.Andy Williams appears to be a humourless fuckwad with the brain function of a priapulid. I am glad I have NEVER known him or been his friend. Prindle, I am sorry you had to go through that.

That was actually three cents. Fuck it, I can't count. Neither could Miles Davis, on many occasions.

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