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Miles Davis – Bitches Brew (1970)

March 7, 2017

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Nifty logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

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[Album 522/1001]

Memos might just be the worst.

But these 2 memo examples might just be the best.

1. The “Did you get that memo?” scene from Office Space. Painful & priceless.

2. The photo of the memo below, issued after Miles Davis let his record company know the desired name of his eventual 1970 record.

bitches-brew

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Although I don’t particularly enjoy being on the receiving end of memos, I can sympathize with the memo senders.

Admittedly, they’re probably useful in situations of:

1. Information overload

With the corporate software company in Office Space, there was likely an obscene amount of data to be processed, mountains of information to be managed. I can see why a company might resort to clearly worded memos in an effort to highlight key messages.

2. Unprecedented experiences

As with poor Teo in the CBS memo, prior to 1970, nobody had ever called an album anything along the lines of “Bitches Brew.” There’s no employee manual for how to field that phone call; an advice-requesting memo sounds reasonable in this context too.

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brew
my cassette cover

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My friends, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to be on the receiving end of a memorandum.

1. With Bitches Brew, information overload is putting it lightly.

At a running length of 94:11, there is so much going on (often all at once) that ‘hearing it all’ is equally challenging on the first listen as it likely is on the ninety-fourth.

2. I’ve never heard anything like this.

Well, I’ve heard 20-minute opening tracks before, like Rush’s 2112.

But Rush was a trio.220px-bitches_brew

On the 20-minute opener here, there are a trio of piano players, two drummers, two bassists, with individuals playing guitar, congas, shaker, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, and trumpet. Not to mention tape loops and other studio effects.

On my cassette (photo above), the cover features the credit, “Directions in Music By Miles Davis.”

Which feels entirely appropriate, as I gather at the time, he was taking music into entirely new places.

47 years later, I’ve finally arrived at this particular place, but I’m still working out what it all means.

And for that, I turn to you.

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Verbalize the Positive

Tip of the hat to my friend Bruce @ Vinylconnection. When I told him in November that I’d be reviewing Bitches Brew soon, he suggested, “if you start listening now, you may be ready to write by Spring 2018.”

As you can see, he was right!

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From → 1970s

20 Comments
  1. I’ve been listening to this for 26 years now and I’m not ready to write about it. So good luck with all that!

    • Haha, so I’ve still got at least another couple decades of listening to go before any chance of writing a coherent review!

  2. I love that Macero memo. I had a right chuckle the first time I saw it and the punchline still floors me.

    As for the album, I don’t think I’d ever be able to write about it. Ever. Except to say “wow”.

    • Wow feels like the appropriate response – even by Bruce’s suggested Spring 2018 date, I don’t think I’d be able to write more than that!

  3. Maybe partake in substances of questionable legality to see things clearer? I’m not promoting the idea, obviously, but it’s seemed to work for certain scenarios like this. Or take a healthier approach, like change where and when you listen to it. Forget the memo and the credits (though both are brilliant!). Pay attention to what it says to you, without the extra information. Sometimes, it can be really simple – like the above blogger’s assessment “wow” – and yet accurate.

    Just suggestions, of course. Some things can be absolutely unfathomable.

    • Suggestions are always welcomed!
      I tried it in a couple settings – it worked well when I was alone. Though when I was trying to have any sort of conversation with it playing, Miles didn’t sit quietly in the background!

  4. Haha 🙂 Love Teo’s memo. I’m going to have to get this one.

  5. What The Hell? …

  6. Meant to add Aerosmith has a great song as well called Bitches Brew…..but it’s about 89 minutes shorter than this one!

  7. Nailed it, man. Words fail this one. I’ve thought of writing it up many times, myself. I always get scared off because writing about jazz is hard, but writing about Miles is HARD.

    I figure we don’t need words. We just need Miles.

  8. Memorandum: To Geoff Stephen
    From: Geoff Hackskeptic

    Dear Geoff,
    Reviewing these Jazz albums from the book “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die” is going to be a hard slog.

    Regards

    • Memo received!
      I have a feeling I’ll hit a point somewhere around album #650 where I’ll have that hard slog feeling – so close but yet so far from the end!

  9. Haha, great review.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Miles Davis – In a Silent Way (1969) | 1001albumsin10years

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