Monday, September 14, 2020

James White and the Blacks - Sax Maniac


This weekend I had a chance to peruse some of our massive vinyl collection and stumbled upon this haphazardly. Obviously, I listen to all kinds of music all the time, but I have been going through a No-Wave period off-n-on, so I wanted to revisit this one from 1982. Turns out that this is one of the best combinations of funk (excellent bass/drum rhythm section by Colin Wade and Ralph Rolle, respectively) and atonal noize/sax screeches that I am aware of. Pretty gawddamn great from start to finish!

James Brown-styled funk is infused throughout the record, starting with "Irresistible Impulse", an almost straight-forward funk piece, excepting for James' wild vocalizing and some crazed keyboard and sax noodlings towards the end. I don't have the album in front of me and I'm listening via YouTube right now, so I'm not sure if the track order is correct, but White's take on "That Old Black Magic" is damn near unrecognizable, but in a good way - he truly reinvents this in his own funked-up style filled with plenty of wild cacophony. "Disco Jaded" isn't quite as frantic, but is still a discordant ride through alt-rhythms and weird'n'wooly key'n'sax interplay backing White's tortured, wailin' vocals. The bass lines are truly frantic'n'loopy in "Money to Burn", but maintain a happenin' groove with White and the Discolitas trading vocal lines on top of it followed by some beautiful madness with insane horn duels. This leads into the title cut with James proclaiming himself a "Sax Maniac" with the Discolitas confirming this while the horns provide a soulful backing and I certainly hope that White was doing his best James Brown dance moves throughout this one! This feel continues in "Sax Machine" - he wasn't influenced by Brown at all, was he? - although the Discolitas carry the vocals more in this one while James wails away on his horn - and they finish things off with their latest dance craze, "The Twitch", which seems appropriate for the a-rhythmic funk that they blast through this number!

The anchoring groove helps to make the crazed shrieks'n'bleats a bit more palatable, in a way, but the insanity is beautiful in its own way, as well. Amazing record!