Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Miller & Coxhill - Coxhill/Miller Miller/Coxhill / The Story So Far... ...Oh Really? CD (album) cover


Miller & Coxhill


Canterbury Scene

3.92 | 5 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Reviewer
4 stars 11/15P. Ever wondered what Canterbury musicians do in their free time? 10 of them appear on this highly interesting anthology of Steve Miller's (Delivery, Caravan) and Lol Coxhill's (Kevin Ayers, Delivery) collaborations. Get it if you're into the Canterbury Scene and if you're not completely against free jazz music.

Cuneiform Records published this lovingly collected 2CD set in 2007, paying tribute to the nearly forgotten work of two musicians who were too much into experimental and unconventional music to be taken along with the success of their fellow Canterbury bands. This set includes the duo's first album (Miller/Coxhill - Coxhill/Miller, 1972, 3/5P.), their second album (The Story So Far... Oh Really?, 1974, 4/5P.) and about 60 minutes of bonus live material, the sound quality ranging from 'really good' to 'excellent'.

Please achieve information about the two studio albums from the seperate reviews, this (shorter) review only intends to highlight the bonus material.


Firstly, the responsible persons unearthed some rare footage of Steve Miller playing solo in Nijmegen (NL) in 1972. The sound quality is better than decent - it's mono and slightly reverberated, but a transparent soundboard tape without audience noises. On grand piano Miller performs Chocolate Field and One For You, two tracks from the Miller/Coxhill debut album. Chocolate Field, a rework of a Caravan track whose name I don't mention in order not to spoil anything, is shortened and now lacks the saxophone soloing, which makes the listening a lot easier. A beautiful and concise performance which is more pastoral than the studio version. One For You follows the same structure as the studio version, but allows Miller to improvise a bit more. The booklet includes an interview with Steve Miller in which he reveals his self-consciousness about his improvisation skills, which, especially in the early 1970s (when he played with great improvisors such as Coxhill and Sinclair) made him want to learn to play the piano anew. Of course, the improvisations of Dave Stewart, for instance, are more majestic and extremely great, but I too enjoy Miller's restrained and more melancholic motives and ideas a lot. These live recordings are the right ones to consult if you want to explore the unspoilt talents of this man. On the Wurlitzer electric piano Miller plays an abbreviated God Song and Big Jobs No.2. God Song, originally a piece dominated by its lyrics and the singing voice, is hard to recognize as a romantic jazz piece for the electric piano. Both in God Song and in Big Jobs No.2 treats the Wurlitzer heavily with the wah-wah pedal, either painting gently swelling slopes or performing wildly distorted solos on top of some tight vamps. It's really nice to listen to these bits and parts of classic Canterbury material as performed solo by a person who contributed to the definite shape or even composition of these pieces.


The more than 20 minutes long track Coo-Coo-Ka-Chew is a collective instrumental improvisation of Laurie Allan, Richard Sinclair, Steve Miller and Lol Coxhill, recorded live somewhere in 12.1974, making it the latest recording on the set. It's an absolutely rare recording and it's a miracle that these amateur tapes survived over all those years; the sound is doubtlessly worse than on any other recording on these CDs, but it still easily transcends the bootleg level. Both the sound and the line-up of that session remind me a bit of Miles Davis' classic record Bitches Brew. Whilst this is definitely fusion it's maybe the most bewildering track on that set, lacking any kind of stable rhythm or leitmotif. A most striking thing about this performance is how well Richard Sinclair, who usually implanted his wicked bass lines into catchy music, works in this free jazz context. Of course, however, such recordings might well be only relevant for trained free jazz listeners and, how I'd call myself, people who are interested in the projects of the Canterbury-related musicians. You surely aren't going to listen to this track more than two times a year either. This is neither Bruford- or National Health- like stuff, nor - as far as I'm concerned - an essential masterpiece of fusion, but I'm grateful for its addition nonetheless.


The arguably most important bonus on the reissue is the 20 minute BBC recording by the 11.1972 Delivery line up - mono, but excellent quality throughout the three tracks. The presence of Pip Pyle, Phil Miller, Steve Miller, Lol Coxhill and Roy Babbington isn't astonishing - that's the line-up which also recorded the Delivery album. More striking is the fact that Richard Sinclair appears here as well - but only as a vocalist due to Babbington's presence. This pretty quirky line-up appears because Delivery were actually reformed on the occasion of this session; Hatfield & The North, usually called the 'follow-up band to Delivery' by critics, had by then already played two gigs in Folkestone and London with Dave Sinclair on organ.

Needless to say, this whole gig sounds a lot more like Hatfield & The North than like the original Delivery. Coxhill and Miller, who are the reason why this concert was released on this set, nonetheless give the whole matter a somewhat rougher edge.

God Song, a collaboration of Phil Miller and Robert Wyatt from the second Matching Mole album, appears here in one of two definite versions. (The other definite version is sadly officially unreleased and was sung by Julie Tippetts with Dave Stewart and band on the occasion of Robert Wyatt's Drury Lane concert in 1974.) Pip Pyle begins with a slowly shuffling groove, Lol Coxhill stays politely in the background with some quiet sax notes, Phil Miller uses the wah-wah pedal on his electric guitar, brother Steve Miller adds some slippery scales and also Roy Babbington's bass guitar gets a full wah-wah treatment. Then, after a minute or so, the vocals enter. And as much as I like Wyatt's voice I think that Sinclair's smooth and elegant voice fits this particular song most perfectly, crooning gently in lengthy cascades through the elegic verses of the song. And whilst the Tippett-Stewart version reached a peak at the very last verse, this version stays calm, and also remains calm in the lengthy instrumental part with extended soloing by Phil Miller. Steve Miller, in the end, plays - as a quasi-solo - around Wyatt's beloved whole-tone scale and lets the song ebb away.

Bossa Nochance/Big Jobs is the missing link between the 1972 Caravan jam session Any Advance on Carpet (released on the The World is Yours box set) and the Hatfield & The North debut album. Bossa Nochance, another example of the shuffling bossa nova stuff Caravan loved to do, is well-known from Hatfield & The North and appears here in a nearly completed version. Richard Sinclair engages in his trademark wordless scatting, frequently doubling the lead guitar with some spectacular melodies. Lol Coxhill enters the manege late, approximately two minutes in. The Big Jobs part is, at least in the end, plain jazz pop and doesn't bear much relation to the floating Big Jobs No.2 which was part of Miller's Nijmegen concert. Again Richard Sinclair shares the soloing with Phil Miller while Steve Miller's electric piano never really comes in the spotlight for a solo or so - he is responsible for the ever-winding scales in the background.

Betty, also called Drummond's Dilemma, written by Phil Miller and Richard Sinclair, is an instrumental piece of fusion which, thus, doesn't feature Richard Sinclair at all. It is written in 5/4, but not in the 5/4 of Dave Brubeck's Take Five, but in a snottily galopping rhythm which always seems to brake after the fifth beat, just to start again in the next measure. Compared with God Song, in which Coxhill didn't play much, actually the first half of Betty is an extended solo by Coxhill on the soprano saxophone. After a time in which Coxhill and Phil Miller solo simultaneously Phil Miller moves into an about equally long guitar solo with some really ace fuzz effects until Coxhill returns for the last minute or so. During Coxhill's first solo the rhythm section gets more intense with Pyle hitting through the eighths instead of swinging lazily through the fourths.


Needless to say this 2CD compilation shall be your choice if you want to explore the work of these two British jazz musicians. If you're willing to get the original albums you're out of luck - they've never been reissued separately and the original LPs were cheap and rare. This also was the reason why these albums have been remastered from LPs for this reissue - the Caroline label wasn't Branson's biggest flagship.

I'm slightly dissatisfied that Plum didn't find its way on this record. Coxhill and Miller recorded this 7-minute track in 1973 for the Not Necessarily "English Music" EMF sampler and it cannot be found elsewhere. Most probably there were contractual obligations which kept the reissuers from releasing it on these 2CDs.

Apart from this this is a lovingly restored set with lots of music to explore. Somehow it's all rooted in jazz, but strays freely into classical music, avantgarde, rock, ambient and blues. Get it if you're a follower of the Canterbury Scene and if you're willing to explore something truly new and 'underground' - it's absolutely worth the money!

Einsetumadur | 4/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this MILLER & COXHILL review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives