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Miles Davis - Live-Evil CD (album) cover

LIVE-EVIL

Miles Davis

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.00 | 54 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
2 stars This oddball hybrid from the recently electrified (and always electrifying) Miles Davis tried to recapture the serendipity of the previous year's "Bitches Brew" album, from the eye-popping gatefold artwork to the dizzy interchanging roster of A-List support talent. But the inconsistent assembly of concert tapes and aborted studio recordings, performed months apart throughout 1970, is too diffuse and unbalanced to be entirely satisfying.

Make no mistake, there's some thrilling music here, played (as always) with vigor, invention, and often pyrotechnic virtuosity. But all the artificial mirroring can't make a virtue of the album's schizophrenia: the Jekyll and Hyde title; Mati Klarwein's elaborate yin-yang cover illustration (that creature on the back was supposedly modeled after FBI kingpin J. Edgar Hoover); the twin tracks of "Sivad" and "Selim" (spell them backwards); and another selection pointedly named "Gemini/Double Image".

Most of the two-disc package is devoted to a live performance recorded on the final night of a four- day residence at The Cellar Door club in Washington D.C., with ace guitarist John McLaughlin joining the band for this one set. And once again the often exciting results suffer from post- production tampering, not unlike the bastardized 1970 "Live at Fillmore" LP. Bits and pieces of performance were removed or rearranged, in one instance ("Sivad") interpolated with studio work recorded seven months earlier. It's as if producer Teo Macero was trying to compose the album at the mixing desk, not trusting the unedited music to stand on its own merits.

The splices are much cleaner than in the mashed-up medleys of the Fillmore East record, released one year earlier. But the remaining excerpts, even when left alone for a stretch of twenty minutes (in "What I Say"), still can't match the accumulated drive and energy of the unviolated concerts, finally released almost 35-years later as "The Cellar Door Sessions". And the edits were dictated not by the music itself, as in "Bitches Brew", but by the limitations of vinyl technology, and the piecemeal nature of Davis' recording schedule.

The separate studio interludes sound a little lost by comparison: moody ambient orphans looking for a home of their own. And in retrospect the whole package lacks the focus and clarity of other Davis masterpieces. In 1971 the album would have sounded thrilling and different. It still does, without a doubt. But the subsequent appearance of more complete archival material makes it almost redundant when heard today.

Neu!mann | 2/5 |

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