249

James Chance & the Contortions: Soul Exorcism (Redux)

Chris M. Slawecki By

Sign in to view read count
James Chance & the Contortions: Soul Exorcism (Redux) Soul Exorcism (Redux) is just as much a document of a space and time as it is the triumphant reissue of the legendary live album by James Chance & the Contortions.

Chance & the Contortions (and his alter-ego-band, James White & the Blacks) were focused on probing the outer reaches of the late 1970's black and white musical fringes—Miles Davis' fractious funk-jazz experiments from one side, and obnoxiously loud and aggressive punk rock from the other—and with much thrashing tried to move toward both directions at the same time: Jazz / Funk / Punk. This blistering live album, recorded in Rotterdam in June 1980, sounds as audacious as that concept; you can still wonder 27 years later if this is wicked music or a wicked joke.

Chance certainly put together a rhythm section—drawing drummer Richie Harrison from Defunkt and bassist Al McDowell from Ornette Coleman's Prime Time—with sharp enough chops to pull it off, or at least try. You'll be able to tell if you can handle it from the opening contortion of Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough. Lorenzo Wyche blows through that familiar, opening trumpet hook at about four times the original's speed, saxophone paints a nightmare with sound, and Chance can't even sing the lyrics so much as he roars them out, almost struggling to keep pace with the instrumental rampage.

The harmonized horn passage in "I Danced with a Zombie feels like New Orleans style collective improvisation, albeit from a more lunatic jazz perspective, and increasingly hypnotic over its eight minutes. "Zombie lurches into "Exorcise the Funk, an archetype of this album's sound—bleating, braying, aggravating, grating, all entirely on purpose. Chance's and White's own articulate liner notes often belie the apparent viciousness of this music: "For example, 'I Danced with a Zombie' might be described as a cross between Haitian voodoo music and the Afro-soul of Fela Kuti.

Exorcism also captures the band's epic workout of James Brown's "King Heroin, jarring and chilling, not melodic or enjoyable, a sick performance of a song written about sickness. Chance's 1987 studio version of Brown's "I Don't Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing is one of this reissue's bonus cuts.

Soul Exorcism sounds like Chance surveyed the 1980 contemporary music scene, saw Michael Jackson rocking with you on one front, Rick James preparing to get all Super Freaky on another, with Miles Davis scrambling experimental jazz-funk omelets in the kitchen, and wondered, "Hey, why should black people have all the fun?


Track Listing: Intro; Dont Stop Till You Get Enough; I Danced with a Zombie; Exorcise the Funk; Disposable You; The Twitch; The Devil Made Me Do It; Melt Yourself Down; King Heroin; Put Me Back in My Cage; Contort Yourself; Disposable You #2; I Dont Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing; Truth or Consequence.

Personnel: James Chance (White): lead vocals, alto sax, organ; Patrick Geoffrois: slide guitar, backing vocals; Fred Wells: guitar; Lorenzo Wyche: trumpet; Al McDowell: bass; Richie Harrison: drums; Anya Phillips: backing vocals; Jerry Agony: guitar, bass; Nic North: keyboards, bass, drum programming.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: ROIR | Style: Fringes of Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Satori" CD/LP/Track Review Satori
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 1, 2016
Read "Another Day in Fucking Paradise" CD/LP/Track Review Another Day in Fucking Paradise
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 6, 2016
Read "Binary" CD/LP/Track Review Binary
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 5, 2017
Read "Sanjay Divecha and Secret" CD/LP/Track Review Sanjay Divecha and Secret
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 2, 2016
Read "Absurdist Theater" CD/LP/Track Review Absurdist Theater
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 9, 2016
Read "Rough Enough" CD/LP/Track Review Rough Enough
by Nicola Negri
Published: August 7, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!