Wednesday, October 03, 2007


The title of the six-CD Miles Davis Complete "On the Corner" Sessions box set is misleading, and that's good. So far, only one of his Complete Sessions packages has lived up to its name: 2003's Jack Johnson set really did contain raw, fragmented takes that producer Teo Macero spliced together to create the side-long jams ("Right Off" and "Yesternow") that made up 1970's original A Tribute to Jack Johnson. The Bitches Brew and In a Silent Way boxes, though, did nothing of the kind, instead placing those albums in a broader context, surrounding them with contemporaneous studio work (cuts from compilations like Big Fun and Water Babies) and previously unreleased material. Each set covered a period of about a year, maybe 18 months, during which time Miles and his band were laying down many more tracks than Columbia's release schedule could handle. The five-CD Jack Johnson box covered only a few months in early to mid-1970.

This On the Corner set, by contrast, gathers all the worthwhile studio recordings Miles made between 1972 and 1975. And yes, it includes raw versions of jams that were later edited to become 1972's titular album—a relentless, seething masterpiece that's been my favorite Davis disc since I first heard it as a teenager in the late '80s. But it also piles up tracks from Big Fun and the 1974 double album Get Up with It, along with the one-chord, rare non-album single "Big Fun/Hollywuud" and about three hours' worth of previously unreleased studio tracks that are the equal of, if not better than, the ones we Miles freaks have been obsessing over for years already. [Read the rest here.]

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