We all know that a company will milk a property for cash so long as people are paying. Last fall I wrote about the excellent 40th Anniversary edition of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew. There were two different editions, each containing additional live material ‘never before released’.
Both contained a Copenhagen concert DVD from November 1969, and the ~$100 Collector’s Edition also had the complete Tanglewood concert from August 1970. This is in addition to the OTHER 1970-ish shows like the Fillmore East dual CD release from several years back.
The release note from AllMusic.com:
Before looking into the musical quality on Bitches Brew Live, it’s important to note for cost-conscious consumers that none of this material appeared on the Bitches Brew: 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition or the 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition. The material contained here is compiled from two concert performances. The first three tracks were taken from the Newport Jazz Festival in July of 1969, preceding the release of the album by nine months. The last six were recorded at 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, four months after the album hit store shelves.
OK … so the music didn’t appear on the stuff we just bought last fall. Yet Miles fans such as myself should read the fine print – because you likely already own the last 6 songs on DVD! In 2004 we got Miles Electric – A Different Kind of Blue, which was the entire Isle of Wight concert.
But what about the first few songs? Those are from the controversial 1969 Newport ‘Jazz’ Festival. It was controversial because George Wein brought in folks like Led Zepplin and Jeff Beck, essentially making it a rock fest – jazz fans hated it for obvious reasons, and the bands involved were mad because they hoped to be alongside jazz & blues groups they loved rather than just another rock festival!
Miles played some of the first live stuff later recorded on Bitches Brew at Newport, so it is certainly interesting. Yet he was actively touring throughout 1969 and 1970, and pretty much everything he did was recorded … at least in Europe. So we have the Copenhagen concert, stuff from Rome, Paris, Berlin, and on and on. Each has been released before.
Also, as for the ‘novelty’ factor … in 2008 we got ‘Miles at Montreux 1969’, which was from July 1969 ( a few weeks before Newport) and featured many of the same songs and even some older stuff in an awesome crossover point!
But back to Sony-BMG – where does it end? How long before we get the ‘Complete Newport Jazz 1969 Concert’ as a CD … ? And what else are they waiting to spring on Miles fans along with someone writing liner notes saying ‘exclusive’ and ‘never before released’ in order to pull in more fans to buy it up.
With every box set and collection I have ever gotten of Miles Davis stuff from Sony-BMG (formerly Columbia), there have been obvious omissions … subsequently filled in a way to require another outlay of cash.
And similar to those, while Bitches Brew Live is an excellent set, it adds absolutely nothing new – unless you are a collector who simply needs it all. But the marketing is putting this up as essential listening and part of the Bitches Brew 40th Anniversary celebration … in other words, milking the cash cow! And in the jazz world, two of the biggest cash cows in recent years have been Miles Davis Kind of Blue and Bitches Brew, so obviously is doing their best to separate fans from their cash using whatever semi-accurate means possible!
ENOUGH, I say … ENOUGH!