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Running the Voodoo Down: The Electric Music of Miles Davis Paperback – November 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Backbeat Books (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879308281
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879308285
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,560,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By directions on July 23, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Running the Voodoo Down" is an interesting exploration into Miles' electric period, its formative years in the late 60's, full blossoming in the 70's and its ultimate wash out in his return from retirement in the 80's. However, it is not as effective as "Miles Beyond" by Paul Tingen which was obviously researched with great detail. For example, "Running the Voodoo Down" states that there were no studio sessions from 1973 while "Miles Beyond" mentions them (even though they have never been released to the general public officially or otherwise) and discusses briefly from an interview with a Miles alumnist what they might have sounded like as well as the interview with Chick Corea that discusses the very first electric concert in 1968. These are minor details but details such as this are what makes a work of musical history. By now, everyone is giving long overdue praise to Miles' electric period but its the detailed facts and unknown stories and descriptions of what was going on beyond the scenes that wets people's appetite for the next Miles archival reissue and lets bands give due for their influences. Also "Miles Beyond" was written like a work of archaeology whereas "Running the Voodoo Down" is filled with overly hyperbolistic rock critic cliches. For the casual listener or the phillistine who puts aside anything from "In a Silent Way" and beyond as derivative of rock and not really jazz, it is essential. For the true jazz fanatic, it is mostly a familiar story.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Gary Mairs on January 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
Contentious, provocative and idiosyncratic, Phil Freeman's Running the Voodoo Down is an attempt to come to terms with the most difficult and misunderstood work of Miles Davis' career. He applies his knowledge of hard bop, heavy metal and funk, drawing unlikely connections and making this dense, often impenetrable music accessible. Every page has a risible assertion, and you may find yourself enraged with Freeman even as you pull out Agharta and On the Corner to see if he's actually on to something. He almost always is.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Phil Nugent on March 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
The music Miles Davis made in the period this book grapples with was unpredictable, contentious, sometimes maddening, often exciting, and on occasion, the most thrilling thing on Earth. The book itself is a fit match for its subject. Faced with a body of work that's inspired more than one sensible critic to throw up his hands, Freeman just rolls up his sleeves and digs in, addressing the material with just the right balance of scepticism and enthusiasm. Those new to Miles Davis will get their eyes and ears opened wide; old-timers will be reminded what it's like to encounter some much-needed fresh thinking on an old favorite .
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mark VINE VOICE on August 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
A glaring mistake on the very first page. Sonny Fortune the reed man on Dark Magus? I think not. The instrument isn't even correct. Fortune is an alto man and the primary horn on Dark Magus is David Liebman's incredibly original tenor sound. Azar Lawrence is on the second tenor. Ok, I haven't read the rest of the book and I'll give it a shot, it can't possibly be more pretentious than the Paul Tingen book.

The Tingen book and its "halonic" discourse and overuse of the word "ambient", trying to tie Miles down to Zen Buddhism etc. It was ridiculous in places. What is it with these guys who write about Miles?

Ian Carr more or less gets it right though he dwells on some things in Miles' later personal life that have absolutely nothing to do with his music or art. I couldn't care less who Miles was sleeping with in the late 80's.

Chamber's book is a great reference though there is an obvious lack of understanding with what Miles was doing from 1970 onward and that lack of understanding translates into unwarranted criticism.

Szwed's book is ok I guess though the guy makes to many excuses for Miles' shabby behavior.

I want a book about Miles Davis that covers the full career, gives ample information on the "stock company" years without indulging in non-objective criticism. I just want the musical facts, not someone's narrow minded opinion about what worked and what didn't. I tire of reading things like the Great Expectations session was a failure. What? That's the music that made me an ardent listener. Where can I get a truly objective book on Sir Miles?
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By JT on January 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
In his very first sentence, Philip Freeman establishes that, "Everyone has their own Miles." For many of Davis's most ardent admirers, the only Miles that matters is the earlier, acoustic era that produced such landmark recordings as Kind Of Blue and 'Round About Midnight. Freeman is here to dispute that sentiment and make a convincing case in favor of the latter, more electrically-informed half of Davis's oeuvre, coming to the fore with 1969's massively influential Bitches Brew and lasting until Davis's 1991 death. Running The Voodoo Down wisely avoids posturing itself as yet another Davis bio: Freeman has instead constructed an extended critical essay that dissects the key recordings, the influences on and of the musicians involved and the cultural/societal/artistic spirit in which the work was created. Running The Voodoo Down isn't about the mysterious, mercurial Miles personality, but rather the ever-hungry musical Miles. And although some will never be convinced that even the best of the electric Davis is on a par with Sketches Of Spain or Birth Of The Cool, the book succeeds in provoking the reader to want to revisit and reconsider the value of the often overlooked later period.
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