Monday, 25 June 2018
Miles Davis - On The Corner (1972)
If On The Corner was meant to be a record to groove to, that's not exactly easy at the outset, as the odd rhythm (the sixteenth-notes on the hi-hat are the key to following it) cuts in mid flow. The title track - the first three minutes of the opening suite - is the kind of full-on fury that would lead to scorching live documents like Dark Magus and Agharta a few years later, with John McLaughlin's guitar and Collin Walcott's sitar wah-wahing like fighting lions. Even as the larger 20-minute track opens up to give a bit more space, the subsequent sections deftly spliced by Teo Macero (wonder if he was ever aware of Tago Mago?), the groove doesn't calm down until the very end.
The head-shaking of the jazz critics continued as the rest of the album - that's 34 minutes - proceeded to hinge around one single bassline. I must admit on early listens this did make me tune out, particularly on the 23 minute Helen Butte/Mr Freedom X - big mistake. To follow these tracks closely is to hear infinite variations from the assembled players (Miles himself sticks mostly to electric organ, in his Fela-like lead shaman role), and an abundance of clever editing and other studio trickery, influenced by both Stockhausen and Paul Buckmaster Essential, life-affirming deep groove music that the rest of the world is still catching up to.