Directions - Miles Davis (Columbia)
Like last year's Circle In The Round, Directions is another double record anthology of previously unreleased Davis material from 1960-70, and it's neatly divided between the coaly lyrical post-bop styles and the period when the trumpeter led his musicians into the wilds of polyrhythmic jazz-rock. For my part, I prefer the latter of the two styles on the fir t two sides, highlighting Davis' sharp, pointillistic brassiness and several swinging performances from Wayne Shorter, Hank Mobley, Ron Carter, and others. The fusion material tends to drift too far afield, lost as it is around funk riffs that are annoyingly stationary while improvisations, by Davis. John McLaughlin , Wayne Shorter and Steve Goodman, lack anything to say save for arbitrary utterances. One jam, "Willie Nelson ," do 1' , however. transcend the hit-and-miss method of the style t with superlative bassist Dave Holland elevating a simple figure into truly propulsive groove that in turn inspires McLaughlin to give his best guitar work-out on the four record set. Still, the fusion sessions are stiff and unmotivated, and one wonders whether Davis himself would have allowed these tracks to see light. Sides one and two, though, are quite fine, and well worth the price of the package.
Intensities In Ten Cities - Ted Nugent (Epic)
I once thought Ted Nugent was a guitarist of singular style who would one day drop the meat-eater stance and make music well the equal of his instrumental skill. Well, I still think that Nugent i a good guitarist, but I’ve abandoned all hope that he might garner some dignity as a musician. Primarily, dignity and class are elements Nugent has no interest in, nor use for. Yes, he can play guitar well and one respects him for that, but he’s also a freak show, a performer, a loud and grotesque figure of masculinity who has no problems selling out arenas and moving vinyl. Intensities in Ten Cities is more of what he' been serving up the last . ix years or so: songs in major keys using major chords with lots of screaming guitar work and plenty of lyrics that display no more odal conscience than a back alley brawl. Nugent is obviously very happy to remain where he is, his audience seems more than happy to be typified as bone heads of the first order, and presently I'm more than happy to ignore this me . Give the audience what it wants and then wash the blood off your hands
(Originally published in the UCSD Guardian).