bush tetras release "very very happy" is a mixed bag made up of new stuff, recent recordings of old songs, some vintage odds and ends and three quicktime videos (of which, the 1980 "too many creeps" clip comes as a small revelation.)
frankly, fans of bush tetras classic material might have a difficult time stomaching the bits of latter-day material included here. sadly lyrically mediocre, musically plodding songs like "nails", "motorhead" and "page 18" make the BTs seem like a faceless bar band. i can't say that i'm happy to hear pat place resorting to barre chord cliches . . .
luckily the 2007 recordings of the older, more experimentally-minded songs like "punch drunk","voodoo" and "jaws" fare well and retain the sharp, nervous edge associated with the band. These were always good songs and the Tetras have succeeded at definitive versions of them here.
the odds and ends that round out the collection include a few '80s demos, an old b-side (the excellent "das ah riot") and a few comp tracks. except for an uneventful version of iggy pop's "sister midnight" all of the remaining tracks sizzle with intensity. the bush tetras were at their best when they ignored pop and rock conventions completely, creating bracing soundtracks of of rhythm and dissonance matched by gritty, paranoid subject matter.
james chance and the contortions
this is a much needed digital version of a killer live recording from 1980 by the sax maniac's funkiest lineup ever. propelled by the incredible, pumping rhythm section of defunkt alumni richie harrison on drums and longtime ornette coleman cohort albert macdowell on bass, the contortions burn through 11 scorching tunes with incredible intensity. stretching out over these long, largely improvised tracks, the interplay of the musicians is consistently hair-raising as dual guitars and trumpet interlock over blistering rhythms, topped off by the manic vocals and saxophone of james chance. this performance absolutely blows away the sleepier "live aux bains douche" (recently reissued on cd by ze records) release from the same tour - whereas that earlier show had a brittle, aloof zombie cool, "soul exorcism" is pure, hellish brimstone from beginning to end.
if fans of post-"buy" contortions were ever wary of james' later output, "soul exorcism" might be just the thing to convert them. three surprisingly entertaining 1987 demos (with drum machine!) push this edition to a whopping 79 minutes.
on a technical note, i can't help but to think the mastering job on this cd could have been better. given that the original tape sounds like it was probably extremely compressed in the first place, a lot could have been done to brighten up the somewhat murky low end and raise the the volume without adding any additional audible compression. regardless, this cd is a welcome addition to the james chance legacy and should succeed in making some heads turn and butts shake.
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