A new series, which provides a more detailed look at Miles’s 1980s albums. It’s fitting that we start with start with Miles’ 1980s comeback album, The Man With The Horn, which was released 30 years ago this year.
1. The Man With The Horn has been released in a number of CD formats.
Top, left to right: Super Audio CD, Blu-Spec CD, 1996 Master Sound CD.
Bottom: left 2000 Master Sound CD, Right, Standard CD –
those with eagle eyes will see that the standard CD is signed by bassist Felton Crews!
Background: Miles’ first new album for six years (not counting the Water Babies, Circle In The Round and Directions compilation albums released during Miles’ long lay–off). Miles was inspired to record again by four young musicians from Chicago, Felton Crews, Randy Hall, Robert Irving III, and his nephew Vince Wilburn Jr. A young saxophone player, Bill Evans, played on the early sessions with the Chicagoan musicians.
Later on, Miles retained Bill Evans and brought in his old drummer Al Foster, plus a group of New York-based musicians, to complete the rest of the album.
2. The 1996 Master Sound version came in a cardboard mini LP sleeve, but the 2000 version
had a standard CD jewel case. Note the red label, compared with silver label
on the standard CD release, and the back of the sleeve cover has the various credits
listed down the right hand side like the original LP – these are inside on the standard CD version.
1. Fat Time
2. Back Seat Betty
5. The Man With The Horn
Producer: Teo Macero
3. The album is also in the Complete Columbia Collection boxed set (it’s disc 47) and the five-disc Original Album Classics set. Both versions use a cardboard mini-LP sleeve.
Miles plays trumpet on all tracks, wah-wah trumpet on track 5
Guitar: Barry Finnerty (2, 3, 4, 6), Mike Stern (1), Randy Hall (5)
Saxophone: Bill Evans (1, 2, 3, 4, 6)
Keyboards: Robert Irving III (3, 5) Randy Hall (5)
Bass: Marcus Miller (1, 2, 4, 6), Felton Crews (3, 5)
Drums: Al Foster (1, 2, 4, 6), Vince Wilburn Jr (3, 5)
Percussion: Sammy Figueroa (1, 2, 3, 4, 6)
Vocals: Randy Hall (5)
4. A comparison between the mini LP sleeves used by the Master Series release
and those used by the Columbia boxed set and Original Album Classics set.
A dozen facts about The Man With The Horn:
1. Miles used three different bands to record the album.
2. The album went Gold, selling more than 100,000 copies.
3. The title track was the only tune from the 1980s, were Miles played wah-wah trumpet, a device he used extensively in the 1970s.
4. The band recorded a 17-minute alternative version of “Back Seat Betty”, which is rockier than the album version.
5. “Shout” was re-recorded as a disco version, with a 12-inch single featuring 4- and 7-minute remixes.
6. Except for “Shout,” all the tunes were named after, or in honour of, someone.
7. “Ursula” was one of the few tracks from Miles’ 1980s repertoire that featured jazz-swing rhythm (the others were “Kix,” and “My Man’s Gone Now,” from We Want Miles, and “Mr Pastorius,” from Amandla).
8. Miles’ voice can be heard at the end of both the first and last tracks, “Fat Time,” and “Ursula.”
9. With the exception of percussionist Sammy Figueroa, the musicians that played on “Fat Time” became members of Miles’ touring band for the next two years.
10. A track recorded during The Man With The Horn sessions (but not included on the album), “Burn,” was performed by Miles in concert during 1985/6, as Miles was considering putting it on his first Warner Bros album.
11. Three of the four Chicagoan musicians – Robert Irving III, Felton Crews and Vince Wilburn Jr – would all play together in Miles’ band in 1986.
12. “Fat Time” was used as the basis for Digital Underground’s “Nuttin’ Nis Funky.”