20 Jazz Funk Greats

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20 Jazz Funk Greats
20 Jazz Funk Greats.jpg
Studio album by Throbbing Gristle
Released December 1979
Recorded August 1979
Genre
Length 42:23
Label Industrial
Producer Sinclair/Brooks
Throbbing Gristle chronology
D.o.A: The Third and Final Report of Throbbing Gristle
(1978)D.o.A: The Third and Final Report of Throbbing Gristle1978
20 Jazz Funk Greats
(1979)
Heathen Earth
(1980)Heathen Earth1980

20 Jazz Funk Greats is the third studio album by British industrial music group Throbbing Gristle, released in December 1979 by the band's label Industrial Records. It has been hailed as the band's best work, with UK magazine Fact naming it the best album of the 1970s.[3]

Recording[edit]

20 Jazz Funk Greats is the band's first fully studio album, as prior albums contained both live and studio recordings. The production is credited to "Sinclair/Brooks". The album was recorded on a 16-track borrowed from Paul McCartney after Peter Christopherson had worked on artwork for McCartney.[4]

Pitchfork wrote that "20 Jazz Funk Greats finds the band waking up from D.O.A's dark night of the soul and feeling curiously frisky. Snacking on not only the titular funk and jazz, the band also takes touristic zig zags through exotica, rock and disco", ultimately describing it as a "kitsch detour toward mutant disco".[5] Uncut Magazine wrote that "musically, it turned away from the precipice; not exactly jazz and funk, but sublimating TG’s noise elements within electronic rhythms and proto-exotica."[6] Dusted Magazine described the album as "a deliberate attempt to toy with the ideas behind marketing strategy and the purpose of musical genres."

The album was produced using electronic musical instruments and effects units, primarily from Roland and Boss.[7][8] Roland equipment included a SRE-555 Chorus Echo effects unit, SH-7 Synth, CSQ 100 music sequencer, CR-78 CompuRhythm drum machine, System-100M (M-191J) modular synthesizer rack, and 100M M-181 electronic keyboard. Boss equipment included a PH-1 phaser effects pedal, DR-55 Dr. Rhythm drum machine, KM-4 mixer, CE-2 Chorus pedal, and BF-2 Flanger.[9] Other equipment used include a Simmons ClapTrap, Auratone 5C speakers, JVC amplifier, TEAC cassette deck, Seck 6-2 audio mixer, and Casio M10 keyboard.[9]

Artwork and title[edit]

The album's cover photograph was taken at Beachy Head, a chalk headland on the south coast of England known as one of the world's most notorious suicide spots.[10] In a 2012 interview, Cosey explained the album cover and tongue-in-cheek title:

We did the cover so it was a pastiche of something you would find in a Woolworth’s bargain bin. We took the photograph at the most famous suicide spot in England, called Beachy Head. So, the picture is not what it seems, it is not so nicey nicey at all, and neither is the music once you take it home and buy it. We had this idea in mind that someone quite innocently would come along to a record store and see [the record] and think they would be getting 20 really good jazz/funk greats, and then they would put it on at home and they would just get decimated.[11]

On the 1981 Fetish Records issue of the release an apparently dead and naked male body lay in front of the band on the album cover.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[12]
Pitchfork 10/10[5]
Uncut 8/10[6]

Pitchfork characterized 20 Jazz Funk Greats as Throbbing Gristle's peak, writing that "it's in the pathos of their promiscuous liasions with the forbidden territory of various forms of "real music" that this album generates a weirdly gripping power of its own."[5] Giving the album 5 star out of five, AllMusic writer Paul Siimpson described the album as "Thoroughly exciting and immeasurably influential, 20 Jazz Funk Greats is easily Throbbing Gristle's crowning achievement, and one of the highlights of the post-punk era."[12] In the retrospective review of Throbbing Gristle's discography for Uncut Magazine, Michael Bonner stated that "Musically, it turned away from the precipice; not exactly jazz and funk, but sublimating TG’s noise elements within electronic rhythms and proto-exotica. Album highlight “Hot On The Heels Of Love” is convincingly Moroder-esque disco, Cosey breathing sweet nothings amid bubbling synthesisers and whip-crack snare. Elsewhere, P-Orridge mines a lyrical seam of control and domination."[6]

Legacy[edit]

Pitchfork ranked 20 Jazz Funk Greats at number 91 in its list of the 100 greatest albums of the 1970s.[13] UK magazine Fact named it the best album of the 1970s, writing that "This album is a rupture. It’s an open crack into the unpronounceable dimensions into which tumble important streams of 20th century pop, art and underground culture, to seethe around each other, mingling, festering, sprouting new and unpredictable forms which in turn would ooze out to infest vast sections of what comes after."[3]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Throbbing Gristle (Genesis P-Orridge, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Chris Carter, Peter Christopherson).

Side A
No. Title Length
1. "20 Jazz Funk Greats" 2:51
2. "Beachy Head" 3:42
3. "Still Walking" 4:56
4. "Tanith" 2:20
5. "Convincing People" 4:54
6. "Exotica" 2:53
Side B
No. Title Length
1. "Hot on the Heels of Love" 4:24
2. "Persuasion" 6:36
3. "Walkabout" 3:04
4. "What a Day" 4:38
5. "Six Six Sixties" 2:07

Personnel[edit]

Technical
  • Sinclair/Brooks – production

Charts[edit]

Chart (1980) Peak
position
UK Indie Chart 6[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ S. Alexander Reed (2013). Assimilate: A Critical History of Industrial Music. p. 259. ISBN 0199832609. 
  2. ^ Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, Stephen Thomas Erlewine. All Music Guide to Rock: The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul. 2002.
  3. ^ a b "The 100 Best Albums of the 1970s". Fact Magazine. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  4. ^ Licht, Alan. "AND THAT’S HOW WE GOT DEPORTED: PART TWO OF OUR EXCLUSIVE, NEVER-ENDING INTERVIEW BETWEEN GENESIS P-ORRIDGE AND BLACK DICE". self-titled. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c Daniel, Drew (7 December 2011). "Throbbing Gristle: Second Annual Report / D.O.A. / 20 Jazz Funk Greats / Heathen Earth / Greatest Hits | Album Reviews | Pitchfork". Pitchfork. Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c Bonner, Michael (14 February 2012). "Throbbing Gristle: The Industrial Pioneers, Reissued – uncut.co.uk". Uncut. Retrieved 13 July 2013. 
  7. ^ Throbbing Gristle – 20 Jazz Funk Greats, Discogs
  8. ^ The Black Madonna, Hudson Mohawke, and More Reflect on the Life of TR-808 Developer Ikutaro Kakehashi, Vice
  9. ^ a b Industrial music pioneer Chris Carter with gear, 1980, Boing Boing
  10. ^ Daniels 2007.
  11. ^ "Hot On The Heels: An Interview With Cosey Fanni Tutti". Red Bull Music Academy. 5 November 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 
  12. ^ a b Simpson, Paul. "20 Jazz Funk Greats – Throbbing Gristle : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 November 2017. 
  13. ^ Stosuy, Brandon (23 June 2004). Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1970s | Features | Pitchfork. Pitchfork. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  14. ^ Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits 1980-1989. Cherry Red Books. Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]