Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Lounge Lizards

Long before John Zorn's blend of hardcore and jazz in Naked City - in archives --, John Lurie put together this intense jazz-punk hybrid. It has a sleazy, gritty sound that shows the early development and experimentation of the long-running institution that is The Lounge Lizards.
Lurie's sax plays many of the melodies, but perhaps more of a feature is the insane scraping sounds of Arto Lindsay's guitar and Evan Lurie wildly tinkering on the electric piano. Drummer Anton Fier's style sounds a bit more rock than jazz, which also adds to the punkiness.
The material is mostly by John Lurie, and falls somewhere between sexy, loungy jazz ("Ballad", "You Haunt Me" and a pretty straight reading of Earle Hagen's "Harlem Nocturne") and upbeat crazy pieces ("Wangling", Thelonius Monk's "Well You Needn't" and "Epistrophy"), at times somewhat Frank Zappa-ish, as another review mentioned. Later incarnations of The Lounge Lizards saw Lurie adding more and more horns, then other instruments and eventually creating a more layered sound, which incorporated some elements of classical and African musics (among countless others). All of their work has been great, but this, their debut album still remains the most fresh and exciting.

I would recommend this to anyone who likes Frank Zappa's early 70's output ("Grand Wazoo", "Waka/Jawaka", "Weasels") and/or Henry Cow ("Leg End", etc.). If this is your first taste of this sort of music, it may take a while to grow on you. But once it does, you'll be listening to all music with different ears.

1. Incident On South Street 2. Harlem Nocturne 3. Do The Wrong Thing 4. Au Contraire Arto 5. Well You Needn't 6. Ballad 7. Wangling 8. Conquest Of Rar 9. Demented
10. I Remember Coney Island 11. Fatty Walks 12. Epistrophy 13. You Haunt Me


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