20 Jazz Funk Greats is the third studio album by British industrial music group Throbbing Gristle, released in December 1979 by the band's Industrial Records label. Known for its tongue-in-cheek title and artwork, it has been hailed as the band's best work, with Fact naming it the best album of the 1970s and Pitchfork naming it the best industrial album of all time.[5][6]

20 Jazz Funk Greats
Studio album by
ReleasedDecember 1979
RecordedAugust 1979
StudioThe Death Factory (Hackney, London)
Throbbing Gristle chronology
D.o.A: The Third and Final Report of Throbbing Gristle
20 Jazz Funk Greats
Heathen Earth

Recording edit

20 Jazz Funk Greats is the band's first full studio album, as prior albums contained both live and studio recordings. The production is credited to "Sinclair/Brooks". The album was recorded at the band's Death Factory studio in Hackney on a 16-track tape recorder borrowed from Paul McCartney after Peter Christopherson, also a member of the graphic design collective Hipgnosis, had worked on the artwork for Wings' 1975 album Venus and Mars.[7] The album was produced using a wide variety of electronic musical instruments and effects units, primarily from Roland and its subsidiary Boss, as well as some that the band had designed or modified themselves.[8][9][10]

Artwork and title edit

The album's cover photograph was taken at Beachy Head, a chalk headland on the Sussex coast known as one of the world's most notorious suicide spots.[11] In a 2012 interview, Cosey Fanni Tutti explained the album cover's design 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.[12]

The 1981 issue of the album released on Fetish Records featured an alternate version of the cover art in which an apparently dead naked body is seen lying in front of the band. Graphic designer Stanley Donwood, known for his work with Radiohead, selected the album cover as his personal favourite in a 2013 interview.[13]

Critical reception edit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [14]
The Austin Chronicle     [15]
Q     [17]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [18]
Spin Alternative Record Guide7/10[19]

In 1979 upon release, the album and Adam and the Ants' debut LP Dirk Wears White Sox were the co-subjects of a highly negative - and denounced as abusive by Ants front man Adam Ant - joint review by Paul Morley in the NME under the headline "Berks That Lurk In The Corner Of Your Psyche."[21]

Reviewing the album's 2011 reissue for Pitchfork, Drew Daniel of Matmos praised 20 Jazz Funk Greats as Throbbing Gristle's peak, writing that "it's in the pathos of their promiscuous liaisons with the forbidden territory of various forms of 'real music' that this album generates a weirdly gripping power of its own." He continued, "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". He ultimately awarded it a perfect 10/10 score and the site's "Best New Reissue" designation.[16]

AllMusic writer Paul Simpson wrote, "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."[14] In a retrospective review of Throbbing Gristle's discography for Uncut, 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."[20] Dusted Magazine described the album as "a deliberate attempt to toy with the ideas behind marketing strategy and the purpose of musical genres."

Pitchfork ranked 20 Jazz Funk Greats at number 91 on its list of the 100 greatest albums of the 1970s.[22] British electronic music magazine Fact named it the best album of the decade, writing: "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."[5]

In June 2019, Pitchfork named 20 Jazz Funk Greats as the best industrial album of all time.[6]

Track listing edit

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

Side A
1."20 Jazz Funk Greats"2:51
2."Beachy Head"3:42
3."Still Walking"4:56
5."Convincing People"4:54
Side B
1."Hot on the Heels of Love"4:24
4."What a Day"4:38
5."Six Six Sixties"2:07
Bonus tracks
12."Discipline (Berlin)"10:45
13."Discipline (Manchester)"8:06
2011 remastered edition bonus disc
12."Weapon Training" (Live at The Factory, Manchester 1979)1:35
13."Convincing People" (Live at The Factory, Manchester 1979)6:12
14."They Make No Say" (Live at Northampton Guildhall 1979)5:28
15."Five Knuckle Shuffle" (Live at The Factory, Manchester 1979)6:27
16."His Arm Was Her Leg" (Live at The Factory, Manchester 1979)3:51
17."See You Are" (Live at The Factory, Manchester 1979)5:46
18."What a Day" (Live at The Factory, Manchester 1979)6:17
19."Discipline" (Live at Illuminated 666 Club, Manchester 1980)8:11
20."Discipline" (Live at SO36 Club, Berlin 1980)10:47

Personnel edit

  • Sinclair/Brooks – production

Equipment edit

Roland equipment used on the album included a SRE-555 Chorus Echo delay, SH-7 synthesizer, CSQ-100 sequencer, CR-78 drum machine, and System-100M modular synthesizer. 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 pedal.[23] Other equipment included a Simmons ClapTrap percussion synthesizer, Auratone 5C speakers, JVC amplifier, TEAC cassette deck, Seck 6-2 audio mixer, Casio M10 keyboard, and Chris Carter's custom "Gristleizer" effects unit.[10][23]

Charts edit

Chart (1980) Peak
UK Indie Chart 6[24]

References edit

  1. ^ Reed, S. Alexander (2013). Assimilate: A Critical History of Industrial Music. Oxford University Press. p. 259. ISBN 978-0199832606.
  2. ^ Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas, eds. (2002). All Music Guide to Rock: The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul (3rd ed.). Backbeat Books. ISBN 9780879306533.
  3. ^ Gimarc, George (1994). Punk Diary, 1970-1979. New York: Vintage Books. p. 248. ISBN 9780099522119.
  4. ^ Pitchfork Staff (23 June 2004). "The 100 Best Albums of the 1970s". Pitchfork. Retrieved 16 April 2023. ...those crazy-ass bird calls, sleazy ambient pulsations, and homemade electro-pop grooves.
  5. ^ a b Kelly, Chris; Lea, Tom; Muggs, Joe; Morpurgo, Joseph; Beatnick, Mr.; Ravens, Chal; Twells, John (14 July 2014). "The 100 best albums of the 1970s". Fact. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  6. ^ a b "The 33 Best Industrial Albums of All Time". Pitchfork. 17 June 2019. p. 3. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  7. ^ Licht, Alan (27 April 2009). "And That's How We Got Deported: Part Two of Our Exclusive, Never-Ending Interview Between Genesis P-Orridge And Black Dice". Self-Titled. Archived from the original on 17 March 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  8. ^ Throbbing Gristle – 20 Jazz Funk Greats, Discogs
  9. ^ Julious, Britt (4 March 2017). "The Black Madonna, Hudson Mohawke, and More Reflect on the Life of TR-808 Developer Ikutaro Kakehashi". Vice. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  10. ^ a b "Classic Tracks: Throbbing Gristle 'Hamburger Lady'". www.soundonsound.com. Retrieved 12 August 2023.
  11. ^ Daniel 2008, p. 27.
  12. ^ Warren, Emma (5 November 2012). "Hot on the Heels: An Interview With Cosey Fanni Tutti". Red Bull Music Academy. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  13. ^ Jones, Lucy (27 September 2013). "Stanley Donwood on the Stories Behind His Radiohead Album Covers". NME. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  14. ^ a b Simpson, Paul. "20 Jazz Funk Greats – Throbbing Gristle". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  15. ^ Winkie, Luke (10 February 2012). "Throbbing Gristle: The Second Annual Report (Industrial Records LTD) / D.o.A. The Third and Final Report (Industrial Records LTD) / 20 Jazz Funk Greats (Industrial Records LTD) / Heathen Earth (Industrial Records LTD) / Greatest Hits (Industrial Records LTD)". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  16. ^ a b Daniel, Drew (7 December 2011). "Throbbing Gristle: Second Annual Report / D.O.A. / 20 Jazz Funk Greats / Heathen Earth / Greatest Hits". Pitchfork. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  17. ^ "Throbbing Gristle: 20 Jazz Funk Greats". Q. No. 60. September 1991.
  18. ^ Malley, David (2004). "Throbbing Gristle". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 814. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  19. ^ Strauss, Neil (1995). "Throbbing Gristle". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. pp. 408–10. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  20. ^ a b Bonner, Michael (14 February 2012). "Throbbing Gristle: the industrial pioneers, reissued". Uncut. Archived from the original on 6 June 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  21. ^ Adam Ant: I'd like to fight Liam Gallagher, Rosie Swash, The Guardian April 28, 2010
  22. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the 1970s". Pitchfork. 23 June 2004. p. 1. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  23. ^ a b Industrial music pioneer Chris Carter with gear, 1980, Boing Boing
  24. ^ Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits 1980-1989. Cherry Red Books. Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2014.

Sources edit

Further reading edit

External links edit