On the Corner

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On the Corner
Miles Davis On The Corner.jpg
Studio album by Miles Davis
Released October 11, 1972[1]
Recorded June 1, 6 and July 7, 1972
Columbia Studio E, New York City
Length 54:49
Label Columbia
Producer Teo Macero
Miles Davis chronology
On the Corner
Black Beauty

On the Corner is a studio album by jazz musician Miles Davis, recorded in June and July 1972 and released later that year on Columbia Records. Drawing on funk, rock, and electronic production techniques, it was scorned by established jazz critics at the time of its release and was one of Davis's worst-selling recordings.[4][5] It was also Davis' last attempt at making a complete studio album until 1981's The Man with the Horn; for the rest of the 1970s, he recorded haphazardly in the studio and focused more on performing live before retiring in 1975.[6]

On the Corner's critical standing has improved dramatically with the passage of time,[2] from being one of the most disparaged albums in jazz history to its recognition as a pivotal influence on subsequent funk, electric jazz, post-punk, electronica, and hip hop music.[7] Joining previous multi-disc Davis reissues, On the Corner was reissued as part of the 6-disc box set The Complete On the Corner Sessions in 2007.


Davis claimed that On the Corner was an attempt at reconnecting with the young African American audience which had largely forsaken jazz for such groove-based idioms as soul, funk and rock. Much to his chagrin, the album's commercial success was as limited as that of other albums since Bitches Brew, topping the Billboard jazz chart but only peaking at #156 in the more heterogeneous Billboard 200.[8] Also cited as a musical influence on the album by Davis was the experimental composer Karlheinz Stockhausen,[9][10] who later recorded with the trumpeter in 1980,[11] and Paul Buckmaster (who played electric cello on the album and contributed some arrangements).

In addition to the discernible rock and funk influence on the album, it also represented a culmination-of-sorts of the proto-electronic editing approach that Davis and producer Teo Macero had begun to explore in the late 1960s.[5] Both sides of the record were based around repetitive drum and bass grooves, with the melodic parts snipped from hours of jams. Buckmaster and Davis also recorded the song "Ife" in a session during the same period. The song failed to make On the Corner, but instead appeared on Big Fun in 1974; it is possible that it was not included on the previous record because of time constraints.

The album was originally released with no musician credits (as Miles did not want other artists to steal his personnel and musical ideas),[12] leading to ongoing confusion about which musicians appeared on the album.

Reception and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[13]
Alternative Press 4/5[14]
Christgau's Record Guide B+[15]
Down Beat (1983) 5/5 stars[16]
Down Beat (2001) 2/5 stars[16]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 3/5 stars[17]
MusicHound Jazz 4/5[18]
Penguin Guide to Jazz 2.5/4 stars[19]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3.5/5 stars[20]
Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide 3/5 stars[21]

On the Corner was panned by most critics and contemporaries in jazz; according to Paul Tingen, it became "the most vilified and controversial album in the history of jazz" only a few weeks after its release.[22] Rolling Stone magazine's Ralph J. Gleason wrote positively of the album. He found the music to be "so lyrical and rhythmic", with "loving sounds" produced by Davis' horn and Garnett's saxophone, and said "the impact of the whole is greater than the sum of any part."[23] Its use of rhythm as the basis of the music's improvisations rather than melody, Robert Christgau wrote, were the reason most jazz critics were not as receptive to the album as rock critics. Christgau himself said "rhythmic improvisations are hardly the equivalent of a big beat and don't guarantee a good one. I'd like to hear 'Black Satin' right now. But the rest I can wait for."[15]

On the Corner continued to be renounced by the jazz community while many other writers deemed it "a visionary musical statement that was way ahead of its time", Tingen said.[22] In 2014, Stereogum hailed it as "one of the greatest records of the 20th Century, and easily one of Miles Davis' most astonishing achievements," noting the album's mix of "funk guitars, Indian percussion, dub production techniques, loops that predict hip-hop."[5] According to Alternative Press, the "essential masterpiece" envisioned much of modern popular music, "representing the high water mark of [Davis'] experiments in the fusion of rock, funk, electronica and jazz".[14] Fact characterized the album as "a frenetic and punky record, radical in its use of studio technology," adding that "the debt that the modern dance floor owes the pounding abstractions of On the Corner has yet to be fully understood."[24] Pitchfork Media described the album as " the sound of icy hot heroin coursing through the veins [...] longing, passion and rage milked from the primal source and heading into the dark beyond."[25]

AllMusic stated that "the music on the album itself influenced [...] every single thing that came after it in jazz, rock, soul, funk, hip-hop, electronic and dance music, ambient music, and even popular world music, directly or indirectly." [26] BBC Music noted the music and production techniques of On the Corner "prefigured and in some cases gave birth to nu-jazz, jazz funk, experimental jazz, ambient and even world music."[27] Critic Simon Reynolds also noted the album's influence on a variety of post-punk and industrial artists.[28] Stylus Magazine's Chris Smith wrote that the record's music anticipated musical principles that abandoned a focus on a single soloist in favor of an emphasis on collective playing: "At times harshly minimal, at others expansive and dense, it upset quite a few people. You could call it punk."[29] Fact named On the Corner the 11th best album of the 1970s,[24] while Pitchfork Media named the album the 30th best album of that decade.[25]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Miles Davis.

Side one
No. Title Recording date Length
1. "On the Corner/New York Girl/Thinkin' One Thing and Doin' Another/Vote for Miles"   June 1, 1972 20:02
2. "Black Satin"   July 7, 1972 5:20
Side two
No. Title ... Length
3. "One and One"   June 6, 1972 6:09
4. "Helen Butte/Mr. Freedom X"   June 6, 1972 23:18



  1. ^ Miles Davis.com
  2. ^ a b Reynolds 2011, p. 182.
  3. ^ Mandel, Howard. Miles, Ornette, Cecil: Jazz Beyond Jazz. Routledge Books, 2010. p. 75.
  4. ^ Chinen, Nate (October 2007). Review: The Complete On the Corner Sessions. JazzTimes. Retrieved on 2011-02-12.
  5. ^ a b c Freeman, Phil. "Miles Davis Albums From Best to Worst." Stereogum. 6 November 2014. [1]
  6. ^ Freeman, Philip (2005). Running the Voodoo Down: The Electric Music of Miles Davis. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 10, 178. ISBN 1-61774-521-9. 
  7. ^ "The Top 15 Most Cocaine-Influenced Albums of All Time: The Complete List". SF Weekly. May 4, 2012. Retrieved May 21, 2016. 
  8. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/on-the-corner-mw0000197892/awards
  9. ^ "Miles Davis first heard Stockhausen's music in 1972, and its impact can be felt in Davis's 1972 recording On the Corner, in which cross-cultural elements are mixed with found elements." Barry Bergstein "Miles Davis and Karlheinz Stockhausen: A Reciprocal Relationship." The Musical Quarterly 76, no. 4. (Winter): p. 503.
  10. ^ In Davis' autobiography he states that "I had always written in a circular way and through Stockhausen I could see that I didn't want to ever play again from eight bars to eight bars, because I never end songs: they just keep going on. Through Stockhausen I understood music as a process of elimination and addition" (Miles, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989, p. 329)
  11. ^ "In June of 1980, Miles Davis was joined by the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen in the studios of Columbia Records; the recording of this collaboration is still unissued." Barry Bergstein "Miles Davis and Karlheinz Stockhausen: A Reciprocal Relationship" The Musical Quarterly Vol. 76, No. 4 (Winter, 1992), p. 502
  12. ^ Feather, Leonard (1972). From Satchmo to Miles. Da Capo Press. p. 248. 
  13. ^ Jurek, Thom (2011). "On the Corner - Miles Davis | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 27 June 2011. 
  14. ^ a b Alternative Press: 104–106. November 2000. 
  15. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. p. 103. ISBN 0-89919-025-1. 
  16. ^ a b Alkyer, Frank; Enright, Ed; Koransky, Jason, eds. (2007). The Miles Davis Reader. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 280, 338. ISBN 142343076X. 
  17. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "Miles Davis". Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0857125958. 
  18. ^ Holtje, Steve; Lee, Nancy Ann, eds. (1998). "Miles Davis". MusicHound Jazz: The Essential Album Guide. Music Sales Corporation. ISBN 0825672538. 
  19. ^ "Acclaimed Music - On the Corner". Acclaimed Music. 2010. Retrieved 27 June 2011. 
  20. ^ Considine, J. D. (2004). "Miles Davis". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. p. 215. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  21. ^ Gilmore, Mikael (1985). Swenson, John, ed. The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. p. 58. ISBN 0-394-72643-X. 
  22. ^ a b Tingen, Paul (2007). "The Most Hated Album in Jazz". The Guardian. Retrieved May 24, 2016. 
  23. ^ Gleason, Ralph (2011). "On The Corner by Miles Davis | Rolling Stone Music | Music Reviews". rollingstone.com. Retrieved 27 June 2011. 
  24. ^ a b "The 100 best albums of the 1970s". Fact. Retrieved 21 March 2016.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  25. ^ a b "Top 100 Albums of the 1970s". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 21 March 2016.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  26. ^ Jurek, Thom (2011). "The Complete On the Corner Sessions - | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  27. ^ Jones, Chris. "Review of Miles Davis The Complete On the Corner Sessions. BBC Music. 2007. [2]
  28. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2006). Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-21570-6. 
  29. ^ Smith, Chris (2011). "Miles Davis - On The Corner - On Second Thought - Stylus Magazine". stylusmagazine.com. Retrieved 27 June 2011. 

External links[edit]