Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Curlew-1ST ALBUM + LIVE AT CBGB 1980 (DMG/ARC, available through Forced Exposure)

Back when the prospect of New York City "new/no wave" merging with avant garde jazz seemed like a pretty marbly piece of steak to nibble on I was really anxious to indulge in as much of this real-life fusion music that was within my grip as I possibly could. Unfortunately a lotta the avant-jazz rock that was spewing forth from a number of En Why stages didn't even make the tape-trading lists (and you woulda thunk that people would've been more'n anxious to record those Sonny Sharrock-era Material and Phillip Wilson's Magic shows that were being laid down at the time) but a few managed to slip out even if it took a good ten or so years for someone to do just that. Of course any stout-hearted BLOG TO COMM reader would remember such black and white mix 'em ups as the Arthur Doyle/Beaver Harris-period Blue Humans, Luther Thomas' Dizazz as well as these (admittedly caucasian) Curlew guys, a bunch who've had quite a few platters released on the Cunieform label but for some strange reason I haven't heard a thing by them until my last order from the folks (not too sure if they're fine folks yet!) at Forced Exposure delivered this recent double-disque to my very portals.

'n YEAH I know that sometimes these punk-bred "downtown" musicians can sound as well as look pretty white (using that word in the purest Lester Bangs sense) but that doesn't mean that this platter should be flung onto a whole pile of inaccessible early eighties underground slush like I would've back in the day (only to find out that some of it wasn't that bad after all...well, too late for all you goofs who sent me yer review items o'er the years!). And even if Curlew is a pretty pasty-faced bunch they still can cook a bit of hot jazz funk on these two discs consisting of their first album that I can't recall seeing for sale anywhere back then as well as various choice CBGB gigs from the transitional year of 1980. Like Material it's a grab-bag of various jazz/rock influences that seems to be wrapped up in a good slice of late-seventies electric Ornette, and yeah it would figure that Ornette Denardo Coleman, long past twelve and present on disque #2's CB set, is doing a pretty good job lending a slice of authenticity to these guys' admirable efforts.

Of course I'd be lying to you if I said this is gonna be one of those repeated pre-beddy bye feet kick-up spins that helps ease me into slumber, but between the NYC funk-punk and the stabs at young upstart expressions of chic brilliance there is much worth listening to here. Of course I'm still pretty wary about picking up anything else by Curlew (FE has a nice selection of their Cunieform output available as well as related discs with and without leader George Cartwright), but this stuff sure goes down a lot smoother than a good hunka what many bloggers are champing at the bit to promote as hot early-eighties experimental sounds and besides that who knows, perhaps someone will be issuing all of those other punk/avant crossover recordings sooner than we all would like if repackages like this catch on with us aging punk/funksters who like to play Archie Shepp and Electric Eels records...simultaneously!

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