Buddy Miles – 1970 – A Message To The People
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The prolific drummer’s most creative album, ‘A Message to the People’ can well be seen as the artistic completion of Buddy’s search for perfect funk-rock-folk-soul fusion.
Retooling Joe Tex’ “You’re Right, Ray Charles” into a frenzied, hard driving, brass drenched instrumental, Miles pays hommage to one of his biggest inspirators by naming the vamp after him. The entire band gets down here, with the horn section trading riffs before combining forces on the bridge, pumping out a truly gutbucket hook that is preposterous in its infectious stankativity.
A1 Joe Tex 4:57
A2 The Way I Feel Tonight 5:05
A3 Place Over There 5:42
A4 The Segment 2:35
B1 Don’t Keep Me Wondering 2:01
B2 Midnight Rider 3:35
B3 Sudden Stop 4:17
B4 Wholesale Love 2:37
B5 That’s the Way Life Is 2:00
Buddy’s trademark lazy-stompin’ groove propels the laidback “The Way I Feel Tonight“, spotlighting Miles’ raspy, high-pitched vocal abilities. Features a smoldering sax solo, as well as one of Charlie Karp’s heavily wah wah’d free-form guitar workouts.
Next up is something of a two-piece suite; adding some folksy, rollicking guitars and keeping a solid, funky bottom on drums, “Place Over There” also incorporates elements of Blues and horn-heavy Southern Soul. Shifting in tempo throughout, it makes way for “The Segment“, probably the most haunting track here. Minor-keyed and brooding, with a warbling organ droning on in the back, Miles persistently belts out the line ‘Yes I know, she told me so’ with punishing horns accentuating his every desperate plea. My only beef with this song is that it’s so short… The live version, which appeared on ‘Buddy Miles Live’ a year later, really takes the tension on display here to bigger and scarier heights.
Kicking off Side B is another ‘twofer’, as Buddy and band tackle two much loved Allman Brothers jams. “Don’t Keep Me Wondering” is pure sleaze-funk, with the wailing, bumping horns and Miles’ hard driven drumming. It abruptly transforms into the much darker “Midnight Rider“, adding more of a rock feel to the funk.
“Sudden Stop“, the famous Percy Sledge hit, is the weakest track here: the execution is good, but this slow grinding ballad really sounds a bit out off place amidst the heavy barrage of funk-rock and gospelfide folksy soul.
Much better is a rowdy take on Otis Redding’s “Wholesale Love” – a track posthumously released in 1969. Buddy stays close to the original, keeping in that Memphis vibe. It proved to become his biggest Pop hit.
Closing this remarkable disc is the introspective “That’s the Way Life Is“, where Miles and company once more cook up an unlikely stew of funk, folk, gospel and rock.
Hands down, this is Buddy Miles’ best studio album. And if you can dig this, you MUST check out the live album released in 1971.