Okay, it might not be the worst Miles Davis album but it’s up there. It has to be. Simply because no other Miles Davis album has a track on it where someone steps up and raps:
Let’s kick a verse for my man called Miles
‘Cause seems to me he’s gonna be ’round for a long while/‘Cause he’s a multi-talented and gifted musician
Who can play any position
Not only is that a cheesy-shitball rhyme, it is the first verse on the second song of the first posthumous Miles Davis album. Miles was in bad health when he and Easy Mo Bee met to make Doo-Bop. They completed six songs and Easy Mo Bee was instructed to make a couple more that “Miles would like”. He built some instrumentals up around recorded Miles fragments and took a loop of the opening song to make a coda.
No one could have envied Easy Mo Bee’s gig. But at least Miles wasn’t around to punch his fucking lights out, right?
The big problem/joke of a small handful of songs where a rapper toasts and boasts about Miles is not that Miles wouldn’t have wanted it – it’s more that there was nothing worth saying. Just a bunch of raps that tried to describe Miles sound in prosaic rhymes. Miles’ sound was several blueprints for many years. As a swansong this was just fucking lame.
Now, funny thing. This album arrived right as I was learning about Miles. So I loved it. Straight away. I also had Quincy Jones’ Back on the Block as a sort of reference point for this kind of jazz/rap hybrid. And would also soon have Guru’s Jazzmatazz Vol. 1 – and a bit later on Buckshot LeFonque. It was the era, the time. And this sort of easily dated, R’n’B/Jazz/Hip-Hop vibe, the true “Acid Jazz” of the late 80s and early 90s was fine enough then. And there. But really not much of it has lasted. Maybe Guru’s mix albums. And a little bit of Ronny Jordan. Actually, scratch that. If you’ll pardon the pun. Even Ronny (R.I.P.) doesn’t really cut it to listen to now.
So what the fuck was all this nonsense?
Or why the fuck?
Well, anyway, all I knew of Miles ahead of Doo-Bop apart from notes around his legacy was the album Tutu. Which is pretty cool. For a late-period one. So Doo-Bop was its more energetic cousin. And though critics of the time were popping off to tell you it was shit I just didn’t care. I loved it. Now I can hear it as a bogus load of nonsense.
But it’s too late!
You see Doo-Bop was the Miles album that found me. It was cool. To us. Everyone in the house dug it. And we probably did our version of The Carlton Dance. We were probably never cool. But it just did not matter. We had Tutu. And we had Doo-Bop.
And within a few months my brother was leading the charge and we had Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain and In A Silent Way and Seven Steps To Heaven and I kept going from there. Right through high school and uni and on and on…about 10 or 12 years ago I had an iPod with about 120 Miles Davis albums on it – everything I could find. Compilations Box-sets. Everything. Dodgy bootlegs too.
I have Doo-Bop to thank for that.
Just digging that doo-bop sound…just digging that doo-bop sound…
Well, I was never just digging that Doo-Bop sound. I was digging it all. But it started there. Which means no matter how shit the album is – and I can hear that now as well as anyone – I just don’t care. I listen to it once a year or so in a warm, nostalgic glow. It offers a halo of sound. It is one of those rarities in our house too. An album the whole family loved. We all went on our own Miles Davis quest after. Yes, yes, I was the one to take it most seriously. To take it to its extreme. But that’s always been the way with me and music. And I love that about music. And most days I even love that about myself.
I certainly love that about Doo-Bop.