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Miles Davis - Get Up With It CD (album) cover


Miles Davis

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Easy Money
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Get Up With It was Miles' last studio album before he took a long break, and shows him at the absolute apex of his mid-70s creativity. All the elements he had been experimenting with are here, crazy psychedelic guitars, Stockhausen influenced attempts to stretch time and space, futuristic polyrhythmic African grooves and bizarre, almost satirical de-constructionist takes on common blues, funk and rock licks all combine to make an album that was way ahead of it's time in the mid-70s, and still sounds modern to this day.

Songs like Rated X and Mtume stand out with their polyrhythmic wall of wah-wah guitars, percussion, bass and distorted organ recreating a futuristic psychedelic yet somewhat traditional African music. On Honky Tonk the band stretches common funk riffs into pointillist abstraction by slowing down the time and leaving a lot of space between their interactions. Maiysha opens with a loungey latin groove that becomes strangely unsettling and menacing before the song eventually breaks into a harsh blues riff played at a numbingly slow tempo while psychedelic guitar wizard Pete Cosey's solo sounds like it was recorded on a tape that was underwater and slipping badly, this is absolute de-constructed blues from beyond hell.

Another stand-out track is Calypso Frelimo, this song takes up side three as it winds itself through different sections before it ends with a chaotic, almost punkish, double-time African jam that has gutarists Cosey and Reggie Lucas trading harsh distorted psych-funk licks with weird repeated spaghetti western type melodies. This totally bizarre song always has something new to hear in it's thick collage of almost incongruos sounds.

Probably the best song on the album, and the most prophetic and forward looking, is He Loved Him Madly, a lengthy improvisation which takes up all of side one. On this cut Miles presents two guitars, flute, bass, drums and percussion playing a patient and slow unfolding of musical events that is part Stockhausen and part raga before the percussion kicks in. Anywhere from ten to twenty years ahead of it's time, this song would pre-date much of the ambient, new-age and trip-hop music that would follow in it's wake. Brian Eno has often praised this song for what an effect it had on his own musical direction.

It is really hard to describe this album and do it justice, words like rock and funk etc could apply to millions of albums, but there is no album like this one, fueled with a malicious sense of mischief, a dark sarcastic sense of humor and tempered with a deep love for music, and a love for those that feel as strongly about music as he does, Miles produced an absolute masterpiece, an album that never could, nor never will be repeated.

Report this review (#193943)
Posted Tuesday, December 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Get Up With It' - Miles Davis (5/10)

Miles Davis is one of my most loved artists in the vast world of jazz music. Treading through more genres and styles that you could count on both hands over the course of his career, Davis was an innovator, although as is the case with far too many geniuses, he began to fall victim to his demons. 'Get Up With It' is a collection of tracks that Davis and company recorded over the early half of the '70s, and although it is considered by many fusion afficionados to be among Davis' finest works, it seems to me that the man's ravenous drug habit was beginning to lead to some miscalculations on his part.

The most noticeable element of 'Get Up With It' is its sheer length; clocking in at over two hours in length, it would be considered a gigantic album even by today's standards. Length can be used in an albums favour somewhat often, but only as long as the music stays consistently interesting. 'Get Up With It' features long-winded improvisations and focuses mostly on the noodling skills of the musicians, rather than an immediate sense of composition. This is not a complete loss for the music, seeing as these are some of the most notable people in jazz playing, but especially when the ideas are dragged out over ten or even fifteen minutes, the noodling can wear thin on my end.

'Get Up With It' can be lauded for being able to tie numerous styles together, including jazz, post-bop and funk. The sound here is somewhat familiar to what I heard on 'In A Silent Way', featuring plenty of mellow, yet passionate improvisations over backing grooves. What separates the excellent 'In A Silent Way' from this and brings that album to the next level however is a sense of buildup; the feeling that underneath the improvisations, the music was going something really special. 'Get Up With It' is a victim of its own long-winded nature.This does work in the album's favour at first, with 'He Loved Him Madly'; an intimately quiet and mellow ambient track that spans half an hour. While it is my favourite track here, I would likely go mad trying to focus on every moment of it, as its effect tends to be one of lulling the listener into sometimes even forgetting they are listening to music. It takes a certain type of human touch to accomplish that, but as one might expect, some more structure and dramatic tension in the music would have done wonders.

'Get Up With It' shows the musical talents of these artists in great swing, and Miles proves he can really lead a jazz band, despite the addiction that was eating away at him. Although Miles Davis is a genius like no other, it is clear that even with his more acclaimed works, it will not always mesh with me, despite the talent that is obvious here. An album in need of some serious editing, I can only moderately recommend this album.

Report this review (#491785)
Posted Thursday, July 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Whereas Herbie Hancock's Head Hunters material found him creating a mixup of funk and fusion by applying fusion chops to funk material, Miles Davis on Get Up With It sucks funk deep inside the black hole his fusion sound had become by this point and takes it to pieces, just as he'd been taking various rock traditions to pieces in his fusion releases in the previous years. His last studio album before he took an extended sabbatical, here Davis has moved so deep into the highly experimental territory he launched himself into from In a Silent Way onwards that you can't even see the mainstream any more.

Murky and inaccessible, it certainly isn't the best place to start with Miles' fusion material, particularly considering that - whisper it - there's more than a little padding going on here, the overlong ambient-free jazz intro to He Loved Him Madly being far from the only culprit (though that composition is an absolute space fusion joy once it gets going). By this point in his fusion experiments, Davis was actually getting the best results out of his live material - and even then, that particular well was beginning to run dry at this point. The ensuing creative holiday to recharge his batteries was, in retrospect, rather well-timed.

Report this review (#827355)
Posted Monday, September 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars This was the last studio album Miles recorded before taking an extended layoff, and it's really a compilation of songs recorded from 1970 to 1974 with various lineups. There's some really interesting thoughts in the liner notes from flautist David Liebman. I have to say that this is a top three studio album for me when it comes to Miles Davis recordings. And part of the charm is how different yet familiar some of these tracks are.

Disc one starts off with "He Loved Him Madly" which I believe is the center-piece of this recording. It's a tribute to Duke Ellington who had just passed away less than a month previous to this song being recorded in June of 1974. What blows me away with this over 32 minute track is how minamilistic and melancholic it is. Brian Eno is said to have been greatly influenced by it. I was reminded right away of Terje Rypdal's "Whenever I Seem So Far Away". It starts with Miles on the organ which Liebman notes he did a lot to start off a composition. We get sporadic percussion and drums as the guitar comes in. The first change is before 13 minutes when the flute comes in. Just tripping here as it plods along slowly. The trumpet takes over from the flute after 16 minutes and cries out of the dark over and over. More flute and trumpet to follow. I would never have thought Miles would have created a tune like this. "Maiyshr" is also from 1974 but is a catchy song with organ, bass and percussion leading the way as the guitar comes and goes. Flute comes in around 2 minutes then trumpet a minute later. Themes are repeated. Check out the guitar after 10 minutes. "Honky Tonk" recorded in 1970 features John McLaughlin on guitar as well as some cool sounding clavinet from Herbie Hancock. It gets fuller 2 minutes in and there's so much going on with all these intricate sounds. Great track! "Rated X" from 1972 features all the musicians from the "On The Corner' recording sessions. Organ to start and Miles plays this throughout. An intense sound kicks in as the organ floats over top. So good! Man this is crazy with the electric sitar and dissonant organ.

Disc two begins with another over 32 minute song called "Calypso Frelimo" recorded in 1973 and it's similar in style to "He Loved Him Madly". Some insane trumpet blasts in this one and it's very adventerous sounding. Flute arrives 5 minutes in then sax around 7 1/2 minutes and it will eventually duel with the trumpet. It all stops dead after 10 minutes then it slowly comes back tonight with plenty of atmosphere as sporadic sounds come and go. Organ and bass at first with percussion then flute after 15 minutes. The trumpet cries out mournfully over and over after 17 minutes. The tempo picks up around 22 minutes and it becomes quite intense before 28 minutes to the end. What a song! "Red China Blues" is from 1972 and it's very bluesy but just over 4 minutes in length. Plenty of harmonica here along with brass arrangements. "Mtume" is from 1974 and it has a lot of percussion and bass throughout. The guitar is prominant as well and the rhythm is repetitive and really good. I really like the organ as well especially 12 1/2 minutes in. Some crazy trumpet runs late. "Billy Preston" ends it all and it's from 1972. This is a trippy tune with some electric sitar, guitar, organ, trumpet and a beat standing out.

A must for fans of adventerous music and especially for fans of Miles Davis' electric period.

Report this review (#1276050)
Posted Sunday, September 14, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Given Miles Davis has such a large discography, it'll be virtually impossible to know everything he's released, and I know there's plenty of titles, even in this day, that I'm completely unaware of. I only knew of Get Up With It around 2004. Another one of those neglected Miles albums no one talks about, unlike say, Bitches Brew. It was 120 minutes long, so it had to be a triple LP set. Wrong! It's a double LP set, probably the lengthiest double ever released. Given it was out of print for so long (Sony finally got to reissuing it in the States only in 2000) original LPs aren't always easy to come by. I finally got a copy, but I don't regret it. This album consisted of material recorded in 1973 and '74, plus Jack Johnson and On the Corner outtakes. He just couldn't get those fit on those albums, so I'm happy he didn't let them stay in the archives. I'm sure people were scared off by this album because it starts with "He Love Him Madly". A tribute to Duke Ellington, who just then-recently passed away, it's clear it really devastated Miles big time. That caused him to record a slow pace, spacy, eerie and ominous piece where the organ, rather than trumpet dominates. It does pick up some, but the tempo is pretty much slow, and I'm sure that scared off a lot of potential listeners back in the day. I get it: mood and atmosphere was what he was more concerned here, kinda like what Tangerine Dream did for Zeit, but unlike Zeit, there is at least drums and a bit of rhythm. But the album really picks up steam after, exploring funk, Latin, blues, calypso, you name it, and do it very well. "Calypso Frelimo" is cut from much the same cloth as Return to Forever's "Captain Senor Mouse", except it's 32 minutes long. It starts off with some calypso stuff on the organ, but then quickly goes into extended jams, with heavy emphasis on percussion. This frequently sounds, to my ears, if the Drum Tower at the Oregon Country Fair (Drum Tower is a space for people to play their drums at, that is, bongos, congas, Native American drums, darbukas, and so on) was occupied by professional jazz players, including sax and various percussion players, and an organist. (For those who don't know, the Oregon Country Fair is a yearly hippie fair held outside of Eugene, Oregon, and you know you nearing the Drum Tower when you hear a lots of hand drums playing). Of course, Chick Corea & Company would have never though to extend their "Senor Mouse" to over a half an hour long, but Miles did with "Calypso Frelimo". There are times the album gets experimental, like on "Rated X" while the blues influence is felt on "Honky Tonky" and Red China Blues". Apparently guitarist Pete Cosey had an experience in blues and R&B recording for Chess Records (Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters giving him blues experience), but his guitar playing here is much more rock-oriented than blues. I have often what compelled Miles to start the album off with "He Loves Him Madly", while I enjoy it, many may not. Regardless, I really love the variety covered on this album. Even Robert Christgau gave it an A- (given he was a big fan of Miles David to begin with), very much the same rating he gave for the much more popular Bitches Brew. It don't get the recognition of many of his other albums, but I very much highly recommend it. I can't give it a five star only because "He Loves Him Madly" can be a bit hard going.
Report this review (#1765899)
Posted Monday, July 24, 2017 | Review Permalink

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