Throbbing Gristle - 20 Jazz Funk Greats

ARTIST: THROBBING GRISTLE

ALBUM: 20 JAZZ FUNK GREATS

LABEL (YEAR):  INDUSTRIAL RECORDS (1979)

FOR FANS OF: CABARET VOLTAIRE, EINSTÜRZENDE, NEUBATEN MONTE CAZAZZA, CURRENT 93

Words by Stef Fiorendi


Their name is as outrageous as their artistic performances; Throbbing Gristle, which in Yorkshire slang refers to an erection, were a collective of “wreckers of civilisation” and pioneers of industrial music in the UK.

20 Jazz Funk Greats is the third LP released by the controversial band, which was used to collaborate in the performances of the sleazy and subversive art clique, COUM Transmissions. The album is a zig-zag through jazz and funk to which dashes of disco, rock and exotica are added here and there, all disturbingly permeated with a gritty industrial vibe. From the Kraftwerk-like synths of ‘Walkabout’ to Cosey’s breathy vocals, and the Moroder-esque beats of ‘Hot On The Heels Of Love’ to the ominous dirge of ‘Persuasion’, the album mingles distress and ecstasy, deliberately swaying between sharp and slimy. The pornographic photography session described in ‘Persuasion’, the political anthem of ‘Convincing People’ and the deceptively cheerful cover photo on the suicide spot Beachy Head generate an illusionary flirt between irony and reality, rhythm and noise.

On first listening I twitched my mouth a bit. Probably a good soundtrack for one of the early Cronenberg films: dirty, brittle and harsh, yet curiously frisky.