Miles Davis – Bitches Brew

2259766

I get the feeling that most of us are here because of the greatness of the album title, which every hip-hop artist ever wishes they were able to name their own albums; because “Miles just called and said he wants this album to be called: “BITCHES BREW” Please advise” is hilarious; because the cover art of both the front and the back means you’ll want to own two copies of this on vinyl: one for listening and one to use as the centerpiece in your bedroom; because the classiness this album represents; because the drumming is a lot more active than the steady pulse of In a Silent Way, which means Bitches Brewrocks more and most obviously, because of how difficult this music is. Let’s get real here: this is way too much to absorb in one sober session sitting down and personally, this is way too much to handle in stoned, regardless of body position; maybe everyone’s different in that regard. I admit it: melodies mean more to me than the absence of them, and most of the time, none of these players are giving us that: they’re just improvising on two chords until Miles tells them to switch to the next two.

But it’s testament to the greatness of the individual musicians that they’re able to play off each other, despite there being someone playing the exact same instrument in the same room (except in the case of trumpet and guitar); get lost in the raining stars of the keyboards in the last 4 or so minutes of “Pharaoh’s Dance.” Broadly speaking, my favorite part of the album is the way the trumpet sounds. With all the over-dubbing and echo, it sounds like Miles Davis is shrieking his soul at the top of the Grand Canyon (especially on the introduction of the title track), and he covers every possible emotion on “Spanish Key” (which also has him playing the album’s best melody). The best part on that song (and thus, the album) is the stretch from 13:18 – 13:55, where John McLaughlin starts to play a melody, scrapping it away and enters a competition with Miles Davis to see who can hit heaven first without dying before the band plays a familiar three chord progression to bring us back down. The second best part is the introduction, where the keyboards add this playful atmosphere to the proceedings and McLaughlin constant scratches at his guitar to nudge us forward (he does something similar over a foundation built out of both bassists in the last third of the title track).

But I’m not really down for anything else. I mean, “John McLaughlin” has a nice keyboard riff but Miles Davis takes a break for it and its really just a palette cleanser after “Spanish Key.” I mean, “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down” has my second favorite stretch on the album; John McLaughlin’s solo culminating in the 5:30 – 5:45 mark, and it does have the best groove on the album (courtesy of Dave Holland), but is it bad that I don’t find it all that groovy? And the two climaxes in “Sanctuary” are worth listening to, but is it bad that I don’t care for how they got there? “It’s evil music” might be the most astute thing I’ve ever about this album: there’s nothing to grab onto and there’s nothing to save you; the prayer of “In a Silent Way” and groove of “It’s About That Time” – my favorite Miles Davis song(s) – seem so faraway now.

EDIT (January 13, 2017): bumped to an ‘A-‘. There has been very little that even approaches this.

A-

Advertisements

10 responses to “Miles Davis – Bitches Brew

  1. Pingback: Miles Davis – In a Silent Way | Free City Sounds·

  2. Pingback: The Antlers – Familiars | Free City Sounds·

  3. Pingback: Herbie Hancock – Crossings | Free City Sounds·

  4. Pingback: Miles Davis – A Tribute to Jack Johnson | Free City Sounds·

  5. Pingback: Flying Lotus – You’re Dead! | Free City Sounds·

  6. Pingback: Jack DeJohnette / Ravi Coltrane / Matthew Garrison – In Movement | Free City Sounds·

  7. Pingback: Rahsaan Roland Kirk – The Case of the 3 Sided Dream in Audio Color | Free City Sounds·

  8. Pingback: Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Slightly Latin | Free City Sounds·

  9. Pingback: Donald Byrd – Kofi | Free City Sounds·

  10. Pingback: Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Here Comes the Whistleman | Free City Sounds·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s