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On the Corner

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Audio CD, August 1, 2000
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On the Corner + Tribute to Jack Johnson + Bitches Brew
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Editorial Reviews

Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 1, 2000)
  • Original Release Date: 1972
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sbme Special Mkts.
  • ASIN: B008DVJN5Q
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,299 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

122 of 126 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Forbes on April 16, 2004
Format: Audio CD
People tend to focus on certain albums of Miles' discography as their "line in the sand". Because the trumpeter's career was dramatically divided into distinct periods and even micro-periods there are a number of places where certain listeners can say, "this far but no farther." I know people whose love of Miles ended with Night at the Blackhawk, or Miles Smiles, or Bitches Brew. My own ended with The Man With the Horn. But perhaps one of the most controversial love-it-or-leave-it albums in Miles' discography is On the Corner. Looked upon as a sell-out in the 70s, even by those who loved the electric bands, this album has been vilified ever since. However, a careful re-examination thirty years later reveals an album that was radically ahead of it's time, though not perhaps even a jazz album anymore.
On the Corner was one of the last albums Miles did with his rotating, multi-layered electric bands of the early 70s. The albums after this would delve into avant-rock-funk of the Agharta period, before Davis took his complete hiatus and suffered his mid 70-s breakdown. Assembled for this disc is a typical conglomeration of the jazz-rock stars of the 70s, including Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock on electric pianos, John McLaughlin on guitar, three drummers including both the marvelous Jack Dejohnette and Billy Hart. Along with these luminaries were Dave Liebman and Sonny Fortune on saxes, fat funk grooves by Michael Henderson, Colin Walcott on electric sitar and Badal Roy on tablas. This lineup is probably the most complexly layered group Miles had in the electric period, and the inclusion of Indian instruments gave the album a world music groove that was years ahead of its time.
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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Ashurra on September 14, 2004
Format: Audio CD
In 1973, Miles Davis was fuming. He had released On the Corner a year before to negative reviews and an apathetic public; and now, his sideman Herbie's fusion record Headhunter's was on its way to becoming the bestselling jazz album of all time. In his autobiography, he whines about how Columbia doomed the record by not promoting it correctly. Personally, I don't think Miles has a leg to stand on. Even if Columbia had put massive amounts of money behind it there's no way it could've stuck in 1972. Columbia had only one hope: Hire a team of brilliant scientists who would build a time machine, and drop this album on the public 40 years in the future. That's right, 10 years from now. We STILL aren't ready for On The Corner...

There are so many dismissive complaints leveled at this album- it's repetitive! there's barely any melody! It's not even Jazz! You hardly every even HEAR miles! I have no counter argument; these are all facts. However, there have been a few things that have been missed by its critics:

Miles had a vision with this record. This wasn't just a street record, this was intended to be THE street record. The ultimate black-power world-encompassing fusion call-to-arms. He intended to reach his black audience- the world's black audience. When you hit play on this record, you are on EVERY dang corner in the world: Los Angeles, Dakar, Nairobi, New Orleans, Havana... This is THE fusion album.

The album is thoroughly immersive. I can't think of a denser album, or an album that rewards repeat journeys better than this. At first it's entirely impenetrable and almost hostile to the listener, but once you find a way in there's a world of details and fascinating characters to discover.
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By J. Lund on August 2, 2000
Format: Audio CD
A landmark recording that even several decades later is a struggle for many fans--jazz and pop--to get a grip on. Miles Davis finds a precarious balance between the vital rhythm-oriented advances of the James Brown-originated funk idiom and Stockhausen's manipulation-of-sound concepts...and still manages to bring his jazz-based perspective along for the ride.
High in the top ten all-time jazz-reactionary myopic criticisms: that ON THE CORNER is a sellout to commercialism! If anything--and there's much more to it than this--Davis took the then up-and-coming, hot-selling funk idiom, stripped it of all surface characteristics that could be easily absorbed in one sitting, then rebuilt the style via his own post-modernist approach...and somehow the intoxicating James Brown-via-Sly Stone THERE'S A RIOT GOIN' ON groove survived intact.
The results are marked by deep polyrhythmic grooves that are decidedly left-of-center. Over this solid bottom a variety of keyboards, guitars, sitars, and the like engage in basically free associative textures, anchored by Michael Henderson's less-is-more bass figures (who else can make a repetitive "duh-dut" bassline sound as if adding even one more note would be overkill?).
Holding this all together is what many critics seem to miss, that being significant solo passages particularly by Davis, heard on no less than three extended--and assertive--segments, with the electrified wah-wah pedal used not as a gimmick but for its vocal-like qualities. Also, various guitarists, reeds, and percussion offer compelling statements that alternatively ride over and react within the dense backdrop.
As if all this weren't enough of a challenge, the "tunes" lack identifiable melodies except for BLACK SATIN.
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