Miles Davis: Rubberband (Rhino/Warner) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

Miles Davis

Rubberband

Rhino/Warner

Sep 05, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Reviewing a Miles Davis album is a tricky thing to do. Reviewing a "lost" Miles Davis album that fans have been salivating over the prospect of for more than 30 years feels more than tricky, it feels potentially dangerous. Original producers Randy Hall and Zane Giles, along with Vince Wilburn Jr., the nephew of the great man, have toiled hard to maintain the vibe of the original recordings from 1985 and 1986, made after Davis departed Columbia Records for Warner, and sought to add a sprinkling of contemporary production and mix techniques. The question though is whether it works.

And the answer has to be a qualified yes. To hear the unmistakeable Davis tone on tracks such as "This Is It"—an homage to '80s prog synths and post-disco funk—is a wondrous thing. Similarly the funk of "Give It Up" gives free rein to the groove and spontaneity of the best of his playing over a squelching rhythm bed and delightful slap bass. And if "Carnival Time" doesn't get you up out of your seat, seeking to remember that one night someone taught you to samba in a dark club after a few drinks, I think there might be something wrong with you. This is great stuff and shows what a marked departure the new direction was for Davis as he sought constant evolution and development.

Some elements don't work, however. Vocal contributions peppered throughout serve to distract from what ought to be the centerpiece of the album, rendering songs such as "I Love What We Made Together" sub-par '90s R&B radio pop songs, when the musical beds underneath suggest they could have been so much more. Things work better on this front with opener "Rubberband of Life" where the fusion of styles really comes off, with Ledisi offering a stellar vocal. However, when the talent is as huge a draw as Miles Davis, these feel unnecessary intrusions. This leaves us with an interesting album, but not a Davis classic, when it could have been. (www.milesdavis.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 5/10



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