Monday

Nucleus

Elastic Rock - 1970

By 1970, the influence of Miles Davis' electric directions ran as deep as could be imagined. Cannonball Adderley fused deep R&B grooves into his repertoire, Carlos Santana stretched into the realm of ambient jazz, and Weather Report built the entirety of their early career around the understated sonic explorations that Davis stretched to the breaking point with In a Silent Way. But across the Atlantic, Ian Carr and Nucleus took a more literal approach to absorbing Miles' influence - they simply copied the blueprint. But that's not to say that the results weren't spectacular in their own right. With a traditional jazz lineup plus the addition of electric guitar and electric piano (either a Wurlitzer or Hohner Pianet, as opposed to the Fender Rhodes that Miles favored), Elastic Rock harkens back to the electric explorations that lead up to Filles De Kilimanjaro rather than unwisely aping the Bitches Brew material that left so many groups reeling. The compositions are also extremely short by fusion standards, with many of its 14 tracks hanging around the two minute mark - making Elastic Rock come off as a collection of fragments, sketches and half-baked ideas on the surface, while in reality, its cohesiveness is stunning. Moody, thrilling, and unmistakably familiar, Nucleus’ first effort is a solid foundation for a band that would soon take the ideas explored here to the furthest reaches.

Heat Warps Music Nerd Fast Fact: Nucleus drummer John Marshall and keyboardist Karl Jenkins left the group to join Soft Machine in 1976.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

It´s nice to see some Nucleus in blogland!
I always prefered Nucleus to Miles Davis, maybe because of my European background. Nucleus always had more brains and was easier to digest for me. Sometimes I believe Miles didn´t really reflect about what he was doing, he just did it. Of course he was a genius, but his outcome depended heavily on what musicians were around, not to forget the production skills of Teo Macero, who invented a copy and paste style nowadays used for every (!) kind of music production. I tried to listen to "The complete Bitches Brew" all the way through and found it kind of boring after a while. Too much noodling, something that Ian Carr avoided from the very beginning.
Does anyone have the "Roots" or "Alley cat" LPs? They are nowhere to be found.
By the way: Ian Carr wrote the best book available about Miles Davis (The definitive biography)

Manfred

JR HeatWarp said...

Thanks for sharing your insight here, Manfred. Your comment on Miles absorbing the influences of the musicians he kept around is dead on, not to mention the underappreciated genius that Teo Macero brought to some of his best records.

And I never even made the connection that the Ian Carr or Nucleus was the same man who penned Miles' biography! I'll definitely check that one out. On a similar note, if you haven't read Miles' wildly entertaining autobiography, that's a definite Heat Warps recommendation.

Thanks again for dropping by!

Doctor Mooney said...

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Cheers,
DoctorMooney

p.s. I'm puttin' this site in my sidebar!

Willard said...

Nice posts this week, JR. I've never heard this Nucleus before and am looking forward to it. The Miles connection... of course, but the Soft Machine tie in is cool, too. Unfortunately, I've been getting so much stuff from your site this month I haven't had time to listen to it all (John Phillips & Deluxe, to name two). But... I keep wanting more of what you've got. Thanks for the ongoing insight . Cheers, Willard.

Vinyl4Giants said...

This is one helluva post... Most folks say this is their best album, but personally, I've always leaned more towards "Under The Sun." Both are worthwhile outings. Keep up the great work over here... Lots to Love.

thebeathunters said...

thanks for this exceptional album, a great and addictive discovery...
i hardly hear any point of comparison with miles' music though, except maybe for the instruments at play but it's an interesting issue

thebeathunters said...

ok, after listening to "torrid zone", i'm down with miles' inspiration...
i loove this album!

Vincenzo the Bedouin said...

Very cool choice...I never listened to any Nucleus before, and passed them over on another site's download choice once. This has already enjoyed many plays.

Sounds Of The Canyon said...

This album has been a firm favourite of mine for a number of years now, it's beautiful. for me i particularly like the slower cuts like taranaki.

have you heard pastoral grafitti? It's insanely gorgeous. it's on one of my comps called infinite search. please check it out.

Good work

Best

Dan Canyon

Anonymous said...

Hey JR
Finally getting around to trawling through your ealier posts, great to find Nucleus, another band/album I haven't heard in decades.
A great sound on a great blog site.
Keep up the excellent work...
Taro Nombei (Japan)

Anonymous said...

This LP was actually recorded before Bitches Brew had been released so it is extremely unlikely that Ian Carr had heard Bitches Brew let alone been influenced by it.

JR Heat Warp said...

Nice point, Anon, though unless I'm missing something, I don't seem to make any comparison between the two albums in this post.