Saturday, September 05, 2015

Fatback Catalogue

Happy weekend to you, and welcome to a birthday post honoring one of my all-time favorite musicians, gone too soon but never forgotten.
Although I began on guitar in 1984 and bass in 1985, I identify as a drummer. In the music project I am involved in these days -- helping a songwriter friend of mine hammer his tunes into bigger and better shape --  I am drumming exclusively. Even though I didn't start playing until 1996, the drums are what I feel I do best and what comes most naturally to me in terms of playing. Not that I'm any good... I'm just way better at it than I am on stringed instruments, ham-hands that I am.
For me there is no more influential a drummer on my playing than today's birthday boy. If I were to categorize my playing and determine who is my biggest inspiration in it, I might say any number of monster players: Idris Muhammad, who has graced this page before, for instance. The mighty Bill Bruford, who also has had his day here. But most days, I'd go with Buddy Miles, born this day in 1947.
One of the heaviest hitters ever to occupy a drum throne, he was born into a musical family -- his dad was a bass player for Duke Ellington, among others -- and was nicknamed after maniac jazz skinsman Buddy Rich (who needs his own birthday post, or perhaps his own entire blog, sheesh) by his aunt. He spent the 1960s as drummer for various soul and R&B stars (the wicked Wilson Pickett chief among them) before moving to Chicago and joining rock-n-soul monsters Electric Flag with guitar superhero Mike Bloomfield.
As powerful a vocalist as a drummer, many of the Flag's best tunes were sung by him. But after a couple of killer platters, they broke up. It was at this point that his best friend (whom he had met on the chitlin circuit before either was well-known) began to use him as drummer on select recordings on this little record you may have heard once or twice called Electric Ladyland. He then formed his own group, called The Buddy Miles Express, and cut his debut solo record, which was also produced by that close pal of his, some bloke named Jimi.
Another solo LP followed before Hendrix broke up the Experience and set about starting to play about with many different musicians. After the Woodstock summer of 1969, Hendrix decided he wanted a deeper, earthier, funkier sound for the more anthemic, message-oriented songs he was working on. Of course, the result of this desire would soon take shape in NYC studios in the Fall of '69: called A Band Of Gypsys, two nights of concerts at the end of the old decade and the start of the new one would ensure their place in the pantheon forever.
There are many, many guitar solos in the history of Rock and really of music in general, but none is more revered than the one widely considered to be the Greatest Of All Time in that regard. Any guitar player will tell you that a lot of where they are able to make a solo go depends squarely on the ability of the rhythm section -- the drummer especially -- to drive them to greater and greater heights of emotional expression and tonal/melodic/harmonic exploration. 
This has never been more true than on the 1/1/1970 performance of Machine Gun contained in the lone Band of Gypsys record released in 1970. In addition to being considered the pinnacle of electric guitar virtuosity and impact, it features one of the greatest performances by a drummer ever captured on tape. Buddy's staccato gunfire assault -- and intense vocal coda, where he takes on the role of the soldier just killed in Viet Nam in the first person -- almost defines the parameters of the song in a lot of ways. When Miles Davis heard the track, he is said to have lost his sauce over it, declaring it the apex of Hendrix's music in particular and of Rock in general. I can't argue.
One of the best tunes on Band of Gypsys would be reprised on Buddy's next solo record, which would vault him into superstardom and provide him with his only solo hit record under his own name (more on that later). One of the more beloved songs in the history of Rock, it's been covered by about ten million different people, and today's share features a pretty wild 12-minute excursion into Them Changes.
Hendrix's manager, the notorious ex-MI5 agent and noted stone cold sociopath Mike Jeffery, loathed the Band of Gypsys and did not want Jimi playing with other musicians of African descent. The story goes that at a late-January 1970 benefit for the Viet Nam Moratorium, he spiked Hendrix's drink with bad LSD and caused Jimi to have a meltdown on stage in front of 20,000 people. He would never share a stage with Buddy Miles again, and within nine months, he was dead. Buddy maintained til the day he died that Jeffery was responsible for it all.
Undeterred at the time, Buddy formed a new group with highly-underrated guitarist Charlie Karp and continued to record. Unfortunately, a fair number of these LPs have never even once seen the light of day again as reissues here in the digital age, which is a record industry travesty among record industry travesties... let's face it, will there ever be a shortage of record industry travesties?
Today's post aspires to fill a small segment of that gap until such time as the suits get themselves a quarter of a clue and give Buddy's music the reverent reissue treatment it deserves. Transferred from a near-pristine LP in 24/96 resolution by legendary vinyl maven knucklebaby, and remastered in 16/44 by yours truly, we request you paste your Saturday ears to the never-reissued-in-43-years, absolutely smoldering live album -- complete with some of the tightest, punchiest horns ever heard on a Rock record -- that Buddy made on his 1971 world tour. 
 Buddy Miles
Buddy Miles Live

01 Introduction
02 Joe Tex
03 Take It Off Him and Put It On Me
04 Down By the River
05 Wrap It Up
06 Place Over There
07 The Segment
08 Them Changes
09 Applause
10 We Got to Live Together

Total time: 1:27:24
disc break goes after Track 05

Buddy Miles - drums and vocals
Charlie Karp - guitar and vocals
David Huli - bass and vocals
Bob Hogins - organ
Donnie Beck - organ
Hank Redd - saxophones, organ
Stamsey Hunter - saxophones
Bob Hogins - trombone
Tom Huli - trumpet

recorded in Seattle, WA, Santa Monica, CA & Bakersfield, CA in 1971

1972 Mercury Records LP, OOP 43 years, ripped in 24/96 resolution by knucklebaby and remastered in 16/44 by me
Obviously there's tons more to Buddy's story... after a bout with drugs-n-drink in the late 1970s, he returned perforce as the voice of advertising icons The California Raisins, eventually winning all sorts of awards for the two albums he recorded in that guise. Tours and recordings with his pal Carlos Santana, with whom he had cut a live record in the early '70s, followed, and he even reunited with bass beast Billy Cox for a Band of Gypsys reunion project in 2006. 
Sadly, he had a family history of congestive heart failure and passed away far too young at the age of 60 in 2008, but not before nearly 50 years in the thick of the music of our lifetimes. So pull this bad boy down and get your groove on to it, and as you do don't forget to remember in your thoughts this most fantastic musician, so integral to so much of the music we know and love in our time here on Earth: Buddy Miles, born September 5, 1947 and in danger of being forgotten approximately never.--J.
9.5.1947 - 2.26.2008


  1. Sadly I missed this opportunity ("transfer expired" on both links). Could I please beg you to reupload Buddy Miles Live? I can't believe this has not been reissued!

  2. Oh dear - "The file you are trying to download is no longer available." Such a shame.