Stephen Chapman

The second incarnation of my blog

Rolling Stone top 100 albums: #95 Miles Davis – Bitches Brew

Based on the top 100 albums in Rolling Stone magazine’s top 500, I have set myself the challenge of hearing and appraising each album. I hope to be surprised and educated along the way.

Number 95 is Bitches Brew by Miles Davis. It’s another double album on the list and was released in 1970.

It was recorded over just 3 days and many of the musicians didn’t know what they would be working on until the recording was to start, being given only a few instructions such as tempo, a few chords or some of the melody. That said, there was significant editing done to the recorded music with sections spliced together to create longer pieces and effects applied.

Davis wanted a loose improvisational style to the album and although to my ears it sounds like full-on jazz, it was said to have a slight rock influence. The set up was experimental with 2 bass players, 2-3 drummers, 2-3 piano players etc… all playing at the same time!

The album is really difficult to listen to first time round, but not in a way that makes you want to turn it off. It draws you in with a subtle groove that suddenly becomes a very unsubtle beat. It throws you all over the place and you cant settle when listening. I’ve had the album on when I am concentrating on it and also as background music; it works on both counts.

The music is aggressive and extremely challenging and there’s so much going on, all of the time.  It’s well worth a second and third listening without a break. It’s a challenge to describe the intensity and emotion of the music – you really need to hear it!

My rating: 8/10

Listen to the album via Spotify here.

See the Top 100 here.

3 comments on “Rolling Stone top 100 albums: #95 Miles Davis – Bitches Brew

  1. Raybeard
    December 5, 2013

    I’ll not pretend. I just don’t GET this…..kind of music! Settled down to really listen after getting something of the flavour. Wasn’t long before I was fidgeting, not much longer before having to turn the volume down (all that screeching!) and I took up a book. Then had to turn it down still further as the piercing sounds were, aurally, borderline painful. Listened to the whole thing over four or five goes. Glad it’s over. Phew! ‘Challenging’ is certainly ‘le mot juste’. Because it’s beyond my appreciation it would be invidious for me to offer a rating – but I may, just MAY, return sometime and have another go – if only ‘cos I know that, because others like it, there’s gotta be SOMETHING there.

  2. sfchapman
    December 5, 2013

    Isn’t that the beauty of music? We all like different things.

  3. Raybeard
    December 6, 2013

    That’s precisely it, Stephen. Trouble is it gets me very frustrated in not being able to understand why others have a high opinion of whatever it is – art, music, literature or anything else – when I can’t see it myself. I just KNOW there’s something there because I believe their admiration is sincere, the only alternative being that there’s a world-wide conspiracy against ME, which is, frankly, rather unlikely. But, my perseverance will continue.

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This entry was posted on October 1, 2013 by in music and tagged , , .

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