Bitches Brew – Miles Davis (1970)

Album no. 177/1001

This Miles Davis album has been heralded as one of the greatest jazz albums of all time – so the pressure’s on for us to enjoy it.

Taking inspiration from more contemporary rock music and mixing it with a lot of improvisation, Bitches Brew has become a cornerstone for modern acts like Radiohead, who listed the album as an inspiration for OK Computer.

But while most folk loved the record when it was released, jazz purists were less impressed with some calling it “a bunch of noise”.  

https://open.spotify.com/embed?uri=spotify:album:1wVO8nHzgcim0IBzbXnYX0

Have you listened to this album before?

CL: No. This album is always lauded as Miles’ masterpiece, so I really don’t know what to expect.

NK: https://twitter.com/i_zzzzzz/status/853412037006962688

Standout track

CL: And Miles is back on his trumpet. It’s definitely not my most favourite instrument of all time in a jazz context – this album only cements that.

NK: That’s his whole deal really. One of the greats etc. This is a lot busier than ‘In A Silent Way’, a lot more to take in. I like ‘Spanish Key’ after a first listen, although the best song title is ‘Miles Runs The Voodoo Down’.

When would be the best time to listen to this?

CL: As with most jazz stuff we’ve heard, it’s not really the sort of thing you can just chuck on for a bit of light listening. This is advanced listening. The sort of listening that requires a lot of concentration, and multiple listens. You’ve been warned.

NK: Yeah, this isn’t background jazz. Be ready to pay attention, that’s my advice.

Why has this album been included on the list?

CL: There’s a pretty good longread about the album and the recent film Miles Ahead starring Don Cheadle that goes into lots more detail around the recording process.

NK: I don’t know a massive amount about jazz, but I am struck by how much Miles changes from album to album. Some folks would have followed ‘In A Silent Way’ with a career of pleasant ambience, but Miles has jumped straight into some more heavy-going jazz.

Will you be listening again?  

CL: Despite not really enjoying it this first time through, I really do want to make time to listen again. I think it’s an album that gets better with more listens – there’s obviously so much to take in, it sort of bamboozles you first time around – so yes. I’m going to make time to hear it again.

NK: I will, definitely.

Rating

CL: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

NK: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

Listen to Bitches Brew on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.

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