Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Down By Law (1986 Film) / Variety (1985 Film) [2 on 1]
Genres: Jazz, Special Interest, Pop, Soundtracks
If John Lurie's music is most aptly described as "fake jazz" (his own description), then there are few better places to experience its fakeness than here. No matter how that sounds, it's a compliment. Lurie's earliest line... more »
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If John Lurie's music is most aptly described as "fake jazz" (his own description), then there are few better places to experience its fakeness than here. No matter how that sounds, it's a compliment. Lurie's earliest lineups of his Lounge Lizards featured Arto Lindsay in a deconstructive, crunching mode, and the octet that plays the roughly 19 minutes of music for Jim Jarmusch's cult classic Down by Law features not only Lindsay but also his successor, Marc Ribot, among others. They play 13 atmospheric vignettes (again, in 19 minutes!), always forcing the ear back onto the nuggets, as if Lurie is tugging at you to acknowledge that a) his is a strong, idiosyncratic ear for the meeting of auditory and visual elements; and b) his is a music built out of cells like this, which in future versions of the Lounge Lizards have served as the brick and mortar of his additive compositional techniques. Yes, there's too little music from Down by Law, but you do also get nearly 18 minutes of music from Betty Gordon's Variety, this time played with straighter rhythms, albeit ones with titles like "Porno Booth" and "Garter Belt." The band on the latter film's music is Lurie's after-Lindsay outfit, with his brother Evan on piano. The music is stylized without being overstuffed and aptly sultry and noirish. If anyone had doubts about Lurie's manifold talents, this set from 1987 should confirm that he's been on similar aesthetic roads to his late-1990s bands for many years. For more confirmation from the film-meets-Lurie world, check out Stranger than Paradise. --Andrew Bartlett
Good early work...
Allan MacInnis | Vancouver | 10/29/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"John Lurie, urban hipster and clueless visionary, recorded the music for this CD (featuring his brother - ? - Evan and subsequent Lounge Lizards drummer Dougie Bowne, among others) back before the Lounge Lizards had fully matured; the music is playful, the song titles, when not referring to the movie itself, demonstrate Lurie's crazy gift with words ("What do you know about music, you're not a lawyer;" "A Hundred Miles from Harry;" and "Nicoletta Can't Cook" -- my condolences to Roberto Benigni on that last point). However, it's NOT his most complex or rich soundtrack work. For that, you'll have to pick up AFRICAN SWIM/MANNY AND LO, or even FISHING WITH JOHN -- these show Lurie at the height of his powers. Still, there's a charm to this music; it's darker, moodier, and sleazier than Lurie's later output, particularly the material off the soundtrack to the REALLY BAD 80's attempt at feminist noir, VARIETY (which has to be the weakest project Kathy Acker ever was associated with; the music is the best thing about that film, so don't go hunting for the video of it -- it really just FAILS as a film). I'd recommend it, but perhaps, if you don't know Lurie, I'd buy the Lizards' QUEEN OF ALL EARS or NO PAIN FOR CAKES first, and come back to this later."