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  Listen Up! 3/9/04 Listen Up!

Tuesday, Mar. 9

Miles Davis, “Live Evil,” Columbia Legacy Records. Once upon a time, the early 70s fusion experiments of Miles Davis seemed daunting and incomprehensible to those of us more used to either his previous acoustic jazz recordings, or even his later, more pop friendly fusion. Now, this stuff just sounds beautiful and thrilling. Listening to this 2-CD reissue from a few years back, with its impeccable remastering, is an even better experience than it was having to turn the records over all the time on LP. All the tunes flow into each other, amazingly enough since they were recorded at several different concerts back in 1970. There is wah-wah guitar, treated trumpet, electric piano and other freaky keyboards, soaring soprano saxophone, and a lot more. Everybody is listening to each other, and bouncing ideas off each other. The grooves can be transcendent, incandescent, and then fade down to something utterly tranquil. This album seems to me to have much more shape than most of Miles’ releases from the period. The narration at the end of “Inamorata,” on the other hand, doesn’t hold up too well. It’s not like we need some guy intoning about music and masculinity when we hear Miles play.

The Coral, “Magic and Medicine,” Columbia Records. I loved the Coral’s first album. This one is so far eluding me. Not that it’s not pleasant, but the hooks aren’t there, or at least they’re not big enough to notice. I’m gonna take this one to my car, where I can hear it loud and see what I think of it that way.

Joe Cocker, “Joe Cocker!,” A&M Records. Cocker had magnificent taste in song choices and producers, hiring Denny Cordell and Leon Russell to put together the music on this second release of his career, back in 1969. Cocker was a bluesy, gospel-drenched belter who could deliver pummeling energetic blows to songs, and then turn around to gently caress a ballad. All the classics are here, including his take on Russell’s “Delta Lady” and the Beatles “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window.” He would eventually lose all his tastefulness, and make boring records, but back in the early days, he could do no wrong.

--Steve Pick


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