http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/82b557d36eb7f6d4019acd1e222ed40f275abe3a.jpg Live-Evil

Miles Davis


Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 0 0
January 20, 1972

Miles' touted "Fillmore Band" didn't sound much like a band to me. In an area of music where individual virtuosity is the rule rather than the exception, give-and-take between players becomes all important. And only occasionally did the Fillmore crew get down to taking care of business as a unit. There was lots of individual brilliance of course, just like there is lots of individual brilliance on Live-Evil. But this is no collection of isolated geniuses; it's a band, and it's going to take the top of your head clean off.

The band that performs "Sivad," "What I Say." "Funky Tonk," and "Innamorata." which are the extended, "blowing" tracks on the album, is Keith Jarrett, keyboards (he has never sounded better); John McLaughlin, guitar (taking more chances than usual); Gary Bartz, saxophone (occasionally stiff, usually exciting and committed, finally the right reed player for Miles' new conception); Jack DeJohnette, drums (absolutely uncanny, and irreplaceable); and Airto, percussion (his rapport with Miles is telepathic by this time). I've saved the new bassist, Michael Henderson, for last, because he's the only really new member, and because his concept is so different from that of his predecessor. Dave Holland. Henderson plays Fender, and he doesn't play very many notes at all. His solidity, and his simplicity, have reduced the "busy" textures of the ensemble to a point where everything sounds clear, clean, and direct. Everybody is just playing away, there aren't any weak links, and there isn't any congestion to speak of. Miles reacts to this happy situation by playing his ass off, too. Inspiration is catching, especially when everybody listens. For all you technology buffs, Miles has the wah-wah pedal mastered, but he steps up to the open mike very once in a while to remind you that he doesn't need it; he just digs it.

"Little Church," "Nem Um Talvez," and "Selim" are what used to be called "ballads." They feature larger groups but there aren't any solos. Just stunning, bittersweet lines, often voiced by Miles, vocalist Hermeto Pascoal, and either Steve Grossman or Wayne Shorter on saxophone, in unison. Each of these tracks is under four minutes, and they are all things of great beauty.

This sounds like what Miles had in mind when he first got into electric music and freer structures and rock rhythms. He's been refining it in public, but they used to accuse Coltrane of practicing his scales in public. So What. In both cases, practice made perfect.

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “American Girl”

    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

    It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

    More Song Stories entries »