Saturday, February 9, 2008

Book Review : Throbbing Gristle's 20 Jazz Funk Greats by Drew Daniel (33 1/3,No.54)

When I started reading Drew Daniel's volume on Throbbing Gristle's 'pop' experiment album , '20 Jazz Funk Greats', I had a bout of gastric flu. For two days straight, while reading the book, I suffered from the most agonising stomach aches and pains, known to mankind. I was weak and losing fluid. Not to mention the various toilet breaks I had to make. It was a very TG moment and im sure the whole band would be smirking if they read this (I can't help thinking that the author Drew Daniel - of musique concrete electronica group Matmos - would want to record the various stomach noises that were escaping from me)

I have to admit I am not a huge fan of Throbbing Gristle. The group, did, however have a great pop ear and when they used it I thought the results were excellent. United, Hot on the Heels of Love, the amazing walkabout.So I can tolerate (but not obsess about) 20 Jazz Funk Greats.

One also has to look deeper in the noise experiments that they made and when seeing the reason why they did atrocities as 'Slug Bait' and so on then you can see why their music makes so much sense and has gathered such a fanbase.

Anyway, the book itself is probably the most academic and well researched of the series. Daniel has also managed to interview all four members of TG, getting insights into the album from song meaings to production techniques. In short it's a nerdfest but a well written and interesting one. Personally I got a lot of insights on the album, which surprised me.

There is one drawback to the book. It is repetative. Daniel stuck to a certain type of research method and used it throughtout the book. Basically each chapter is devoted to a track, where Daniel first gives his own comments on the song, interviews all four members of TG and then gives us a more detailed breakdown on the track. This happens in every chapter and although it doesn't make boring reading, Daniel's style is too great to fall into that trap, but the reader will notice the pattern. It's not a flowing story.It is an analysis.

But this is a minor quirk. I enjoyed the tome immensely, I love it when an author's passion comes out in writing and it happens a lot here. Another worthy entry in the series.

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