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John Zorn "Naked City" (1989) Elektra/Nonesuch

Classic of the Week

September 09, 1993|BUDDY SEIGAL

Thrash punk, jazz, pop, rock, country, Tin Pan Alley-- avant-garde composer/alto saxman Zorn and company stirred all these ingredients together and poured the bubbling, ballistically puissant mixture into a cracked, dirty tumbler. "Naked City" (the name of both the album and the group) offers a wild ride into the soft white underbelly of modern America. Zorn and like-minded genre benders Bill Frisell (on guitar), Wayne Horvitz (keyboards), Fred Frith (bass) and Joey Baron (drums) cover Ennio Morricone, Henry Mancini, Ornette Coleman and Georges Delerue alongside a host of twisted Zorn originals, and the sound is darkly urban, as influenced by Psychotronic film and squalid cityscapes as by the plethora of music from which it freely feeds. If David Lynch were a musician rather than a filmmaker, he would have produced something akin to this disturbing but morbidly fascinating record (the cover photo shows a man shot in the face and lying dead in the street, fair warning that this is not music for the fainthearted--or for purists of any stripe). Guest singer Yamatsuke Eye shrieks as if kicked in the groin, saxophones and guitar wail, the rhythm section explodes as if ready to veer completely out of control at any second. "Naked City" is one of the most unusual, original and ultimately satisfying albums of the '80s.

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