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Friday, February 24, 2023

Buddy Miles - A Message To The People (1971 us, remarkable funky blues rock, 2021 remaster)

In the league of funk-rock albums, A Message to the People is top-notch. Buddy Miles was easily one the better bandleaders of the early '70s, and his ability to unite a group of talented players around well-crafted songs definitely makes this one of his best albums. The gorgeous "The Way I Feel Tonight," the funky, horn-driven "Place Over There," and the lovely closing "That's the Way Life Is" all rank among Miles' best songs and performances. 

Add to that two superb Gregg Allman covers (especially "Midnight Rider," which is arguably even more definitive than the original), and the results are impressive. Miles even predates hip-hop by lifting the horn riff from Joe Tex's "You're Right, Ray Charles" and crafting it into a new instrumental cut called, fittingly, "Joe Tex." Only a dud cover of Percy Sledge's "Sudden Stop" is the album's lone clinker. In fact, the album is so good, it's mystifying why it barely clocks in at a meager half-hour. "That's the Way Life Is" and the clavinet-laden "The Segment" are both over just as they've barely begun.

Similarly, no sooner does the cover of "Don't Keep Me Wonderin'" settle into a powerful groove than it stops to segue into the next cut. Why Miles felt the need to edit the material so severely is bizarre, since the album could easily have been twice as long and still hit its mark. It's a testament to Buddy Miles' talent that, as first-rate as the album is, it will leave any listener wanting more. Still, A Message to the People is every bit a funk classic. 
by Victor W. Valdivia

A really fantastic album from drummer Buddy Miles – an artist that many folks know for his key rock work in the Band Of Gypsys group of Jimi Hendrix, but a musician with an equally great ear for soul and funk as well! Miles began in Electric Flag, and certainly has ties to the world of psych – and here, he mixes funkier currents with lots of strong trippy guitar from Marlo Henderson – a player we don't know that well, but who adds some great lines that are a lot like some of the Phil Upchurch contributions over at Chess/Cadet at the same time. Miles sings on most numbers, with that nicely honest vocal approach we love so much – but there's a few instrumental moments too, and the set's got some great use of horns throughout, which brings in some southern funky currents too. Titles include "Joe Tex", "Place Over There", "The Segment", "Don't Keep Me Wondering", "Sudden Stop", and "That's The Way Life Is". 

1. Joe Tex - 4:58
2. The Way I Feel Tonight - 5:06
3. Place Over There - 5:43
4. The Segment (Buddy Miles, Hank Redd) - 2:40
5. Don't Keep Me Wondering (Gregg Allman) - 2:01
6. Midnight Rider (Gregg Allman) - 3:38
7. Sudden Stop (Bobby Russell) - 4:21
8. Wholesale Love (Otis Redding) - 2:40
9. That's The Way Life Is - 2:06
All songs by Buddy Miles except where stated

*Buddy Miles - Bass, Drums, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
*Hank Redd - Saxophone 
*Frederick "Flintstone" Allen - Percussion
*Michael Fugate - Horn, Trumpet
*Tom T. Hall - Horn
*Marlo Henderson - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*David Hull - Bass, Vocals
*Stemsy Hunter - Saxophone, Vocals
*Charlie Karp - Rhythm, Lead, Acoustic Guitars, Vocals
*Andre Lewis - Organ, Clavinet, Piano, Vocals 

Related Acts
1967  Electric Flag - The Trip (2011 remaster)
1968-69  Electric Flag - An American Music Band / A Long Time Comin
1968-74  The Electric Flag - Live