Mo-Fi's Miles in The Sky   With Diamonds!

1968 was a period of political and musical unrest. Miles was moved by where rock music and culture were going and clearly, he wanted to be part of it.

This rock-jazz fusion built upon well-structured jams represented a bridge to the giant step that would be the daring In a Silent Way. Herbie Hancock's electric Fender Rhodes piano—a first on a Miles album— points the way to what was to come on the opener "Stuff", which blends soul, jazz and rock anchored by Ron Carter's electric bass.

The long running quintet of Davis, Hancock, drummer Tony Williams, bassist Ron Carter and tenor saxist Wayne Shorter broke up soon after this album's release in July of 1968 as Davis moved towards rock, funk and straight forward time signatures. Filles de Kilimanjaro was the quintet's final release, recorded in June and September of 1968 and released in early 1969.

On Wayne Shorter's "Paraphernalia" sequenced second but recorded first in January of 1968, Hancock is on acoustic piano, which helps give the track a more conventional sound as does the recording, which has more mike leakage and less of "Stuff's" spare, compartmentalized sound. George Benson sits in.

Tony Williams' "Black Comedy" shifts time throughout and can make you seasick if you're not paying attention to the goings on. Davis's improvs over the shifting sands are sensational, but more amazing is Williams' playing, which rumbles, sifts and shimmers in unusual percussive shape-shifting.

The set ends with Davis's segmented "Country Son", which also shifts time signatures going from straight forward to rhythmic snaking and back. The mid section threatens to fall apart before it again hits its stride shifting back to straight time. Here the engineers apply plenty of echo to Shorter's sax and behind William's drum kit. There's nothing coherent about this album's sonics!

A comparison between the original Columbia "2-eye" and the Mobile Fidelity double 45 is a mixed bag depending upon what you like. The original is brighter and more in your face—which was a sonic characteristic of this era of Miles's Columbia output. The reissue is somewhat warmer but not exactly mellow (which is a good thing).

While listening to the original I kept thinking what a shame Williams' drum kit was sounding so thin and too far back in the mix. The 45rpm reissue moves Williams forward and puts him more in the mix partly by warming up the upper mids to give the cymbals more "meat" but you do lose a bit of the hard-edged cymbals. Hancock's piano sounds far more "woody" and less "metallic" than it does on the original.

I think this double 45 is far preferable to the original—especially on bottom (compare Carter's bass on the opener, which way favors the reissue) but opinions may differ. The reissue is definitely more listenable.

Overall, I think Mobile Fidelity's Miles Davis reissue series is among the company's most consistently successful. To me, this record now sounds as I think the producers and artists intended.

Music Direct Buy It Now

Toptip's picture

I made a discovery today. Chinese manufacturers of consumer goods seem to have solved a problem that bedeviled those in the west (when anything was still made there of course): loose connections, screws and rattles.

The solution? Goop, more goop and sponge tape. Is there a screw that really should be secured by counter-tightened nuts? Why bother, just use a metal or wood screw and squirt some goop on it... A wire that should be secured to the chassis with cable ties? Just wrap it with sponge tape, it will not rattle so no-one will know. What if the "silent" rattling makes the computer-style micro-jack at its end become dislodged? You guessed it: squirt some more goop on it!

This works, sort of, as long as you do not have to make ANY repairs. So probably OK for throw away gadgets. But today I was trying to make some modifications to a pair of fairly expensive AirPlay speakers (Philips Fidelio DW9800W SoundSpheres, about $1,000 retail) and once I opened the bottom to the shiny, beautifully turned out barrel-shaped cases, the insides looked like a scene from "The Alien!" -- anything and everything was covered with goop (hot glue perhaps), nothing, no jacks would come apart and every screw was buried under thick layers translucent goop. Creepy, grey sponge covered wires were dangling in the midst.

Eventually I started "explorative surgery" with a Dremel tool, found the screws and cut their heads off. Final prying apart of various parts was done by me and my son pulling at them as in a tug-of-war! The Alien finally succumbed.

Tom Miars's picture

Yes, it's off topic.

Toptip's picture

I certainly posted this under the wrong category and probably the wrong site too.

Nevertheless I am always impressed by the bitterness and nastiness that lurks just below the surface of this genteel hobby, looking to prance, at the first opportunity, on anyone who dares to say something a bit out of the party line!

At least I write with good syntax, perfect punctuation and some humor...

Michael Fremer's picture
I left up your post because I thought it was interesting though clearly "off topic" but I don't see where the responses were either "bitter" or "nasty" because readers tend not to be. What comment did you find "bitter and nasty"? I'm just curious.
isaacrivera's picture

but semantically a failure, for there has been no prancing of bitterness nor nastiness for your [very] off-topic commentary.

762rob's picture

Thank you for your thoughtful review of this new MFSL release.

I think I'll add it to my collection!

Auric G's picture

Could you review this lp?

Analogue+Fan's picture

When you say Original:
"I think this double 45 is far preferable to the ORIGINAL —especially on bottom- but opinions may differ. The reissue is definitely more listenable. Overall, I think Mobile Fidelity's Miles Davis reissue series is among the company's most consistently successful."

Do you mean that Original is the First Press..?