The Black Album (inc)

DiscoThe Black Album (inc)
Original folder name: The Black Album
The Black Album [Legendary Collection Series, 2CD]
Unreleased studio and live tracks recorded between 1983 and 1989. Very good soundboard.

Between 2001 and 2002, Warner Brothers were working on a boxed set that was to include everything Miles Davis had recorded in the studio during his time with the company, 1985-1991, including many previously unreleased studio outtakes, plus some particularly noteworthy live material from the same era. The box was to be called The Last Word, and was initially earmarked for release on Rhino Records in September 2001, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Miles’s death.

In July 2002, the now-defunct ICE newsletter reported:

Originally slated for release August 2002, Rhino pulled [Miles Davis’] The Last Word from rotation stating: “We deeply regret the fact that we will not be releasing [the box set] on August 20,” David Dorn, VP of Media Relations for Warner Strategic Marketing, told ICE. “Our commitment has always been to offer consumers the best possible audio and video products for the best possible value. Due to developing circumstances beyond our control, we felt that this box set would not, in its finished form, meet our standards, or the standards our customers expect from our products.”

Even then, a four-CD set had been sent out to the press and to retailers.

At, in a note dated February 2005, Paul Tingen explained why The Last Word project stopped and ends his notes with this:

The banning of my liner notes turned out to be only the beginning of what went wrong with an increasingly ill-fated and ultimately doomed project. Prince, perhaps still motivated by resentment towards Warners, refused to give permission for the release of the three tracks written by him for Miles that Matt Pierson (head of jazz at Warners) wanted to include in the 6-CD set, and similar legal issues held up the release of much of the material from the memorable all-star La Villette concert in Paris in 1991.

Gradually the 6-CD set shrivelled to just 4 CDs, with very little previously unreleased material, which had been kind of the main point of the set. There must still have been a real belief in getting it out, because under huge time pressure Bill Milkowski completed new liner notes in just four days (!), and some CD-R review copies were sent out, without art work. Then some time in 2002 the release was quietly abandoned altogether. Officially no reasons were given. When I queried an insider at Rhino, he would only say: ‘Estate problems.’

So while it is unlikely that you’ll ever get to hear all of the music included in the original 6-CD set, here, at least, is the story of the music in more detail than ever before.

In the meantime, the Japanese Legendary Collection Series released The Black Album, a two-CD compilation featuring some of the unreleased tracks from the aborted The Last Word and other unreleased tracks.

On October 18, 2010, Warner released the two-CD compilation, Perfect Way: The Warner Bros Years. Apart from previously released tracks, the set includes three previously unreleased live tracks - Portia, Carnival and Human Nature - from the 1986 Nice Jazz Festival and two unreleased tracks - Digg That and Rubberband - from the much talked-about Rubberband sessions in 1985, just after he signed to Warner, that featured keyboardist Adam Holzman, Vince Wilburn Jr on drums and Steve Reid on percussion.

For those who are still keeping count, only four of The Black Album’s tracks are officially available and, especially for Miles Davis fans, we have included one still unreleased track from the four-CD Last Word here.

Disc 1

Record Plant Studio, New York City, USA, September 23, 1985
Track 101. Maze (also found on The Last Word) (14.1MB)

Unknown Studio, Los Angeles, USA, October 17, 1985
102. Rubberband - Omitted*

Ameraycan Studio, Hollywood, USA, January 1986
Track 103. See I See (also found on The Last Word) (8.5MB)

Sunset Sound Recorders, Hollywood, USA, December 21, 1987
104. Digg That - Omitted

Unknown Studio, Los Angeles, USA, October 1986
Track 105. Street Smart (also found on The Last Word) (3.5MB)
Track 106. Time Square (also found on The Last Word) (6.9MB)
Track 107. Punchy’s Theme (also found on The Last Word) (2.3MB)

Record Plant Studio, New York City, USA, January 5, 1983
Track 108. It Gets Better (31.2MB)

Capitol Recording Studio, Los Angeles, USA, May 1, 1986
Track 109. Red Riding Hood (edited version, Crucial version is 03:53) (4.2MB)

Disc 2

Jardin des Arenes de Cimiez, Nice, France, July 20, 1986
Track 201. One Phone Call / Street Scenes / Speak (listed as Theme from Jack Johnson/Speak/That’s What Happened on The Last Word) (15.2MB)
Track 202. Time After Time (also found on The Last Word) (11.9MB)

Casino, Montreux, Switzerland, July 17, 1986
203. Portia - Omitted
204. Tutu - Omitted

Chelsea Studios, New York City, USA, October 18, 1989
Track 205. Mr Pastorius (also found on The Last Word) (7.0MB)
Track 206. Hannibal (also found on The Last Word) (9.5MB)

Jones Beach Theatre, New York City, USA, August 28, 1982
Track 207. Come Get It (23.2MB)
Track 208. U ‘n’ I (incomplete) (25.9MB)

Bonus Track (from The Last Word)
Chelsea Studios, New York City, USA, October 18, 1989
Track 301. Tutu (9.6MB)

* Rubberband, Digg That - available on Perfect Way: The Warner Bros Years
Portia, Tutu - available on The Complete Miles Davis At Montreux