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Miles Davis

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Miles Davis Water Babies album cover
3.45 | 72 ratings | 3 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Water Babies (5:06)
2. Capricorn (8:27)
3. Sweet Pea (7:59)
4. Two Faced (18:01)
5. Dual Mr. Anthony Tillmon Williams Process (13:18)

Bonus track on 2002 Columbia remaster:
6. Splash (10:05)

Total time 63:08

Line-up / Musicians

- Miles Davis / trumpet

- Herbie Hancock / piano (1-3), electric piano (4-6)
- Chick Corea / electric piano (4-6)
- Wayne Shorter / tenor saxophone
- Ron Carter / bass (1-3)
- Dave Holland / bass (4-6)
- Tony Williams / drums

Releases information

Recorded at Columbia Recording Studios, NYC - June 1967 (tracks 1-3), November 1968 (4-6)

Artwork: Corky McCoy

LP Columbia ‎- PC 34396 (1976,US)
LP Columbia ‎- PC 34396 (1994, US)

CD Columbia ‎- CK 86557 ( 2002, US) Remixed and mastered by Mark Wilder w/ bonus track

Thanks to rocktopus for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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MILES DAVIS Water Babies ratings distribution

(72 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (36%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

MILES DAVIS Water Babies reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars A weird album that received a Japan-only release at the time, some 8 or 9 years after the recording sessions took place. By 75, Miles had retired from the music scene ,until the early 80's and his record label, started releasing old material, in order to kept he money coming in, since they didn't know when their capricious star would be healthy enough to return to the studios for new albums. Among the release is this relatively bizarre album tht relates to his 60's quintet, According to the recording dates (three months were given but I find two of these doubtful, but WTFDIK, right) and the line-up, we are in the Miles In The Sky And Fille De Kilimanjaro era, but the music appears more standard jazz than the music on both these album. Whether they were separate sessions from these two album's respective sessions or were they clearly separate section, it's not clear for me.

In either case, the jazz appearing here is certainly more ancient-style than the music on FDK and MITS. I mean, considering the general jazz history, this could date from the late 50's or early 60's as well. I can easily see this album being release to try to regain older fans who had deserted Miles after his going elecrtric, and indeed this is exactly the kind of album that they'd love, although I'm not certain the artwork would've. Musically the first three tracks (the shorter ones, originally on side 1) are of much lesser interest (IMHO, of course), while the two longer one (of which, one is supoosed to be a bonus track) are more interesting, because they align both Hancock and Corea on piano, and Both Carter and Holland on bass, which provide much more drama in a very good Two Faced (exploiting the double instruments possibilities) and .Dual Mr. Tillman where they're more laid back.

So let's face it, this standard jazz album might be good or not, don't be fooled by its 76 release date, it's not related to the man's recent music, but rather completely anachronic, but the two longer tracks are of interest, showing a nascent form of fusion on one track. Hardly essential, though.

Review by Easy Money
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Although this record was released in 1976, it was recorded in the late 60s when Miles was shifting from his brilliant Quintet to a larger more experimental ensemble. This album is actually two very different half albums slapped together. Side one features the Quintet, starting to sound a bit restless in their explorations, and side two features the same band, plus Holland and Corea, playing in a much more experimental style.

Side one opens with Water Babies, a strange mournful tune with a static piano part, Miles and his crew are definitely starting to move further away from traditional jazz. Capricorn, which follows, is a great free style hard-bop tune that bears strong similarities to someone Miles had once been critical of, Ornette Coleman. This side closes with Sweet Pea, a beautiful and somewhat mysterious and relaxed number by Wayne Shorter, who wrote almost all of the music on this album. On Sweet Pea, the band sounds like a French neo-classical chamber ensemble, each member adding their well-timed sound colors to the rich mix. Overall these three performances are not the very best by the Quintet, but they're not bad. The production on this side is rather odd, with the band sounding like they are in a large empty hall. The horns come through, but the rest of the band sounds a bit distant. In a way, that odd production adds to the somewhat lonely sound of these three songs.

Although side one is nice, things get a lot more interesting on side two. The tunes on this side feature a different sound with Hancock switching to Wurlitzer electric piano and Corea, also on a Wurlitzer, joining the band. Dave Holland is also added on bass for a big double bass player sound. The music on this side is also a lot more progressive as Miles starts experimenting with start-stop rhythms and static repetitious structures, all compositional techniques that will come to a head later on his album Big Fun.

Two Faced kicks off side two, and is one of the coolest most original songs to ever grace a Miles album. Shorter's bizarre melody, that keeps reappearing throught this lengthy song, has more in common with Prokofiev and Stravinsky than jazz. In-between repetitions of the melody the various band members play lofty and impressionistic solos, the highlight being Corea and Hancock's abstract interactions that blend into a magical electro-piano sound tapestry. Also interesting is Tony Williams' subdued drumming that only uses toms and occasional cymbals.

The album closes with Dual Mr. Tillman Anthony, a fun upbeat, yet experimental number that has the band repeating a classic soul/jazz progression that never quite takes off and keeps coming back to it's starting point. This technique of a purposefully frustrating song structure will serve Miles well during his experimental mid-70s period.

I highly recommend this album, side one is nice, but side two is even nicer with it's excellent ground-breaking tunes that clearly indicate where Miles was headed.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Let's jump into the Water (with babies inside). First track, Water Babies is somehow different from typical Miles you may (or may not) know, it sounds like vehicle in motion, moderately fast, engine off and just sliding down, not knowing where the road will take it, as driver does not have much control of the vehicle. Final minute of this song is even unpleasant to the point, where you may feel in danger by something not entirely particular. The problem is that I don't like jazz drumming that much. And because in these songs (more like genre) you can hear every instrument quite clearly, because there's big silence (you know, the opposite is for example extreme metal, everpresent sound), first two tracks uses (for me), annoying drumming. Maybe I'm too much used on prog drumming, where it's far more variable and when it's not, it doesn't matter, because drums are just one of 4-5 instruments playing. Nevermind, trumpet line raises the stakes high again, bringing very sad (maybe too sad, too painful) and melancholic melody in first two songs (respectively). Third one, Sweet Pea means calmed dr(oo)ums, used in far more clever and complex way and that's something I can admire. This is by far the best track of this side (I mean having LP, it would have been "side"), being successful in having damn fine ratio between each instrument, mood and innovative element featured.

The rest two tracks are somehow different. I know less than previous two reviewers, so I'll leave facts to them. Two Faces is truly interesting song. Where again, it's not so typical jazz music I would expect. Rich in changes, musical virtuosity and most importantly, ideas. It's like whole new fertile land left for us to explore. 18 minutes are not problem at all, it manages to be interesting from start to the end. And trumpet/sax duet from 8:24 to about 9:24 is pure fantasy. With so little means how to produce music (they were still pioneers and as much as jazz genre gives a lot of freedom, it also restricts from its basis, trumpet isn't guitar, or keyboards. Second song features more prominently electric piano (sounds like to me, may be wrong) and also drum solos, while forgetting a little bit about trumpet, in its later stages uses graduating structure, where we're over and over closing to end only to skip back and have more of this jazz again.

4(-) I would say, because of first two songs (which aren't so good), some drumming issues and also for my taste, not so much prominent bass (which would at times help). But not any of these can spoil this nice little album.

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