Buddy Miles Live - 1971
Wowy. This is some serious recording.
We picked this one up at the most recent incarnation of the DC Record Fair, knowing only that we already had A Message to the People from the same year which is a stellar funk-rock solo album from Mr. Miles: drummer, main vocalist, and band leader. This self-produced, double-disc album was recorded while on tour in 1971 in Seattle, Santa Monica, and Bakersfield (where the...?). The cover, donned in a psychedelic, blue-purple landscape accompanied by a flying, fiery heart (we're talking real heart here with veins, arteries and all), sealed the deal to give this record-set a new home.
Horn flourishes open up "Joe Tex" the funky crowd warm-up (probably served the purpose of making sure people made it to their seats for the good shit later to come). This is a solid instrumental lead-in track which cleanly segues into the James Brown-esque "Take It Off Him and Put It On Me" full of whaaaoos, steady bass, and stellar riffs by lead guitarist Charlie Karp. Karp tears it up in the second half here with the rest of the crew straining at full force to keep up.
Hello curve ball. A song the VVers instantly raise a curious eyebrow to: Buddy Miles covering Neil Young's "Down by the River" to polish off the first record's A-side? Yes, indeed. It's got a bleating trumpet interlude, catchy horn riffs, and a lonely tuba. The horntastic tooting on this majestic homage will get you going. Wandering, esoteric, and jazzy horn solos give some respite in the mid-section of this tune. Besides that, it is a true-to-form rendition with Miles sounding uncannily similar to Young. It isn't until late in the performance where you can distinctly hear Miles' fiery baritone belt through.
A Batman-esque duddah duddah duddah dduahha duddah duddah duddah dduahha bass-line is heavily featured in the Isaac Hayes cover "Wrap It Up" which encompasses all of record one, side-B. The hypnotizing bass riff combined with a dominant horn section carries through all the funkiness that is this epic track. The lull in music could have you thinking the set is about to end, POW! the band pops right back to life, stronger than before to bring it. i.e., "the funk."
Side A of record two is "The Segment;" a 12-minute epic with so many
slight returns it puts the concept to shame. The band is completely in
sync and Buddy is in full-on crooner mode. He goes from sweetly toned to snarling James Brown with little effort. How is he making all this mayhem and drumming
at the same time? The horn section rolls with ominous tones that really
help to set the drama and punch things up. It all comes thundering
down at the end with a mighty call and response jam out. POW!
Apparently James Hendrix Sr. was in the audience the night "Them Changes" was recorded, as Buddy gives a big shout-out to him and the accomplishments of his recently deceased son, Jimi. Buddy then proceeds to call up the whole Hendrix family to the stage. In case you didn't know, Buddy was a former member of Jimi's Band of Gypsys from 1969 to 1970.
These recordings are super jam-out sessions, completely loaded with chunky grooves and boogie. Buddy shows a fierce earnestness in his delivery. Really good stuff and apparently never released on CD. Seek out that vinyl!