Volume 7, Number 1 - March 22, 2010

Miles Davis - The Complete Miles Davis Columbia Album Collection
(Columbia/Legacy Recordings)

Wow! Where to even begin?! Simply stated, this voluminous package houses all 52 separate titles that Miles Davis unleashed during his 30+ year (1949 and 1985) association with Columbia Records. Not only that, there is also Live In Europe '67 -- a DVD boasting two sets by the 1967 Quintet and Isle Of Wight -- the debut of the audio-only CD of Miles at the legendary 1970 UK music festival. Both  items are previously and otherwise unavailable.

Since the mid 1990s, Sony/Legacy -- Columbia Record's reissue arm -- has been meticulous in their digital reevaluation of Miles' voluminous and historic back catalogue. The Complete Miles Davis Columbia Album Collection (2009) is the result of their painstaking effort. That work continues on the new and exclusively expanded editions  -- replete with rare bonus tracks -- of In Paris Festival International De Jazz May, 1949 (1949), Quiet Nights (1962), At Plugged Nickel (1965) and We Want Miles (1981). Speaking of which, the release of The Complete Miles Davis Columbia Album Collection coincided with “We Want Miles” – an exhibit of Miles’ life and times, at the Museé de la Musique in Paris.

At the heart of this more-than-generous cornucopia are the studio and live albums that Miles unleashed in the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. The previously-mentioned 'Expanded Editions' of these long players are included: ‘Round About Midnight (1957), Miles Ahead (1957), Milestones (1958), Miles Davis At Newport (1958), Porgy and Bess (1958), Jazz At The Plaza (1958), Kind Of Blue (1959), Sketches Of Spain (1960), Someday My Prince Will Come (1961), In Person: Friday Night At the Blackhawk (1961), In Person: Saturday Night At the Blackhawk (1961), At Carnegie Hall (1961), Seven Steps To Heaven (1963), In Europe (1963), My Funny Valentine (1965), ‘Four’ & More (1966), Miles In Tokyo (1964), Miles In Berlin (1964), E.S.P. (1965), Miles Smiles (1966), Sorcerer (1967), Nefertiti (1967), Miles In the Sky (1968), Filles De Kilimanjaro (1969), In A Silent Way (1969), Bitches Brew (1970), A Tribute To Jack Johnson (1971), Live/Evil (1971), On the Corner (1972), Big Fun (1974), Get Up With It (1974), Water Babies (1976) and Aura (1985). The remaining discs have been remastered and stay true to their original running order. They include the compilations Circle In The Round (1979) and Directions (1981), as well as 1958 Miles (1958), Live At The Fillmore East (March 7, 1970): It’s About That Time (1970), Black Beauty: Miles Davis At Fillmore West (1970), At Fillmore (1970), In Concert (1972), Dark Magus (1974), Agharta (1975), Pangaea (1975), The Man With The Horn (1981), Star People (1982-83), Decoy (1984) and You’re Under Arrest (1985).

Accompanying the discs is an equally remarkable 250-page tome. Getting between the notes are Frédéric Goaty -- director of the French Jazz Magazine and co-author of the 1995 book Miles Davis -- who is joined by Franck Bergerot -- Chief Editor of Jazz Magazine and the author of Miles Davis: Introduction à l’écoute du jazz modern. Together they provide " …the most in-depth liner notes ever included in any Miles Davis package …" and who are we to disagree. The book also contains rare photography, a full discography, production notes, and a complete track index.



The Monkees - The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees: Boxed Set

Gathering no less than a mammoth 88 tracks -- over two dozen of which are previously unreleased --this project seems to present the final word on The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees (1968) -- the fifth long player to bear the Monkees' prefab insignia in under two years ('66 - '68). Although not branded as such, this triple-disc anthology continues in the tradition of Rhino Records' Deluxe Edition series of expanded and sonically superior re-evaluations of The Monkees' mid 1960s output. Granted, the primary raison d'être of the package is to present monaural and stereophonic mixes of The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees. However, research into the tape vaults turned up a profuse embarrassment of additional riches related to the creation of the album. These consist of rare mixes, early manifestations of material that would resurface for future projects, completely unissued songs, fresh remixes of vintage recordings, a few instrumental backings for tunes that were never given lead vocals and a few odds and sods such as radio adverts circa 1967/1968.

In terms of noteworthy differences between the mono and stereo incarnations, one primary and overriding variance is that the mono mix has been slathered in reverb to replicate a larger soundscape than your average single channel [read: mono] recording. Yet, keen-eared listeners and those intimately familiar with the music will undoubtedly notice a host of subtler anomalies throughout. Most significantly are shorter fade-outs on Michael Nesmith's surreal "Auntie's Municipal Court" and the sheer wall-of-sound cacophony concluding "Tapioca Tundra" -- one of the platter's three Top 40 Pop Singles. Meanwhile, "Daydream Believer" -- the flipside of that 45 -- turned out to be one of the group's biggest and most enduring classics. It joins "Valleri" --  the band's final Top Ten entry --as one of the last songs to benefit significantly from exposure within The Monkees weekly television program.

While each CD is packed with supplemental sides, Disc Three: "The Birds, The Bees & The Rarities" will most likely appeal to those hardcore enthusiasts willing to shell out the collectors' asking price -- originally $59.98 on the Rhino HandMade website www.rhinohanmade.com. Highlights are many to be sure, including but not limited to the formerly unavailable readings of "War Games," "(I Prithee) Do Not Ask For Love," "Nine Times Blue," "Merry Go Round" and "The Girl I Left Behind Me". Plus, demos of Peter Tork's instrumental "Seeger's Theme," along with Nesmith's "Tapioca Tundra" and "Magnolia Simms". On the topic of the latter, the 'stereo remix' is sans the pops, clicks and shellac 78 rpm scratches that inhabited Nesmith's intentionally lo-fi production. Of similar interest are the David Jones' sung "Laurel And Hardy" -- whose roots can be traced to (of all people) Jan & Dean. Plus, a take of "D.W. Washburn" featuring a decidedly non-Monkees' bass vocalist, Nesmith trying out a scratch-vocal on his own composition "My Share Of The Sidewalk" and the backing track for the Carole King/Gerry Goffin co-penned "I Wasn't Born To Follow."

The packaging itself is something to behold as the stunning cover artwork is presented with a 3-D effect lenticular hologram. The three CDs are housed in separate mini-LP jackets -- two of which closely copy the 1968 Colgems mono and stereo album jackets. The 24-page liner booklet is adorned by rarely published photos and filled with facts and a detailed sessionography for each song, as well as a chronology for the entire project. As if that weren't enough, there is a replica promotional badge [read: button] and those who got in on the pre-order were treated to a vintage poster and newly pressed 45 rpm single with picture sleeve, containing acoustic versions of “St. Matthew” b/w “Lady’s Baby”, both previously unreleased.



Rekless Youth - Love Me Hate Me
(Bubble Blue Studios)


This EP offers up a half-dozen sides for those eager to hear the upgraded and overhauled incarnation of Charlotte NC-based attitude-rockers Rekless Youth. The line-up now includes: Andrew Marcadis (drums/vocals), alongside co-founder siblings Morgan Lewis (bass/vocals) and Madison Lewis (guitar/vocals). Their third EP, Love Me Hate Me (2009) -- available at the band's live performances as well as online at http://reklessyouth.com -- present a combo unquestionably benefiting from the infusion of new blood. Luckily they've likewise been able to retain the key molecular structure that has infused the angst, 'tude and even lyrical prescience of The Clash with a decidedly keen-eared melodic sense.

The bond between Marcadis and Morgan is immediately evident as the title track "Love Me Hate Me" bounds with the voracity of a caged animal, while punctuated by the Lewis Brothers' frenetic and incessant dual lead vocals. "On My Own" throbs and thrives on richly-syncopated rhythms that don't sound too far afield from the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers -- especially the unrelentingly catchy chorus. The post-apocalyptic love song "Downtown" is another keeper which not only (lyrically at that ) begs the musical question "Tell Me Why?" but is another prime example of the Lewis' brothers pile-driving, inescapable and otherwise in-your-face vocals, with prime backing support from Marcadis.

Beneath the funky sonic exterior, "Bad Decision" tells an all-too-familiar tale of white trash and rural family decay -- proving that their message certainly isn't wasted on self-absorbed introspection. All this, despite their age and/or the irresponsibility implied by their moniker. The intangibly brooding energy behind "Never Wanna See You Again" may well lie in its power-pop simplicity. Marcadis' vital energy animates the anarchy with tasty fills and a rock-solid backbeat. Rekless Youth's affable brand of anger-jangle serves them well on the disc's finale "No Sympathy," which likewise provides an anthem of sorts. "We are the youth, we are the young/What we do, we do for fun." That definitely translates into a strong and ultimately re-listenable release that refuses to be ignored from a trio that does the same.    











Copyright 2002-2010 Matthew Rowe.
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212 Frech

"Even though most of the people I knew in my youth are gone, I still reach out to them..." Norman Maclean - Paraphrase

"...we should enjoy every sandwich." -- Warren Zevon
"Buy the ticket, take the ride." -- Hunter S Thompson
"...you best wake up 'fore tomorrow comes creepin' in...: -- Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad)
"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be." -- Kurt Vonnegut
"Because they wouldn't let me go for three..." -- Woody Hayes (OSU)
"Show me peaceful days before my youth has gone" -- Neil Diamond (Serenade)