Hell and Back
On the decidedly rockier side of things comes the Buddy Miles Express with Hell and Back (InnerRhythmic). Produced by Bill Laswell, this crunchy outing by the former Band of Gypsys drummer and black-rock pioneer is a throwback to the funky, hard-hitting outings that Miles and the Express put out for Casablanca Records in the '70s. Included are potent remakes of Albert King's seminal blues-rocker "Born Under a Bad Sign" and Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," which recaptures some of the swirling psychedelia and wah-wah-inflected magic that Jimi Hendrix slapped on that tune back in the late '60s.
Elsewhere, Miles slams big-as-a-house backbeats behind an organ-fueled, gospel-flavored "The Change" and then resorts to the worst form of schmaltz on a soul-injected remake of the Everly Brothers' ballad "Let It Be Me." The Uptown Horns add a Stax/Volt punch to "Be Kind to Your Girlfriend" and provide a kind of Brecker Brothers meets Fela kick on the lone instrumental, "The Decision." In terms of sheer drumming technique, Miles is not even in the same league as any of the drummers mentioned in this roundup. But none of the others can throw down as nasty as Miles does on the ultrafunkified closer "Nothing Left to Lose."