Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Miles Davis: Big Fun [Columbia, 1974]
Four side-long "pieces" that serve as a sampler of Davis's pre-On the Corner early-'70s music, with Miles playing trumpet throughout (intermittently throughout) and such luminaries as Wayne Shorter and John McLaughlin doing a lot to define their respective segments. The sitar-and-tamboura interlude that untracks the gently loping "Great Expectations" about two-thirds of the way through is typical of the album's failures--the only side that doesn't wind down prematurely is "Lonely Fire," which after meandering at the beginning develops into lyrical mood music reminiscent in spirit and fundamental intent of Sketches of Spain. But for the most part this is uncommonly beautiful stuff, and it gets better. A-