I used to be a big time follower and collector of John Zorn’s music. For a time, in the 80s and 90s, Zorn and his rag-tag stable of top-notch players were pushing all the boundaries of music and composition, while simultaneously pushing all my buttons at the same time. Fusing punk, jazz, rock, blues, speed metal and a half-dozen experimental extremes, Zorn’s music was (and still is) fearless, unprecedented and often just downright exciting. Many know his outstanding side band, Naked City (if not, we’ve got 8 of their twisted CDs in the archives, HERE) or his fascinating tributes to Ennio Morricone (HERE) and Ornette Coleman. Good luck keeping up with his prolific output however. Between 1995 and 1999 alone, The All Music Guide (HERE) estimates he released over 40 albums. I had to stop buying his work somewhere around my 70th CD… it just took too much time (and expense) to keep up with him. Amazingly, almost all of those releases are memorable in one way or another – including his ongoing Filmworks series (at least 24 titles strong) and his exquisite Masada live releases (there’s maybe 15 of those… even Zorn stopped counting at Volume 10). “Spillane” is a laid-back example of his ongoing kitchen sink philosophy, compressing a multitude of melodies, riffs, sound effects, dialog and hairpin turns into a conceptual whole based loosely on the crime dramas of Mickey Spillane’s fictional private dick, Mike Hammer. The track kicks off with a woman screaming… and careens into an unpredictable tailspin from there. There are two CD versions of Spillane – the original 1987 release, featuring Bill Frissell, Bob James, Bobby Previte, Anthony Coleman, John Lurie (and others), which also includes additional tracks with Albert Collins, Robert Quine, Melvin Gibbs, Ronald Shannon Jackson (and others), as well as a 10 minute piece featuring The Kronos Quartet and turntables. In 1999, Zorn re-released “Spillane” on his own Tzadik label, coupled with other mid-80s material, “Godard” and “Blues Noel,” boasting only some of the same players. “Spillane” is the only track duplicated on both CDs, with better mastering on the latter. If you know Zorn’s 80s output, you sort of know what to expect, though he’ll still surprise you anyway. If you’re not familiar, give a listen to the 25 minute “Spillane,” below. Find Spillane (HERE) and Godard/Spillane (HERE) at Amazon. Along with the Naked City discography (HERE), we’ve also got a Zorn oddity (live with Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson, HERE).
TWO LANE HIGHWAY: Preacher Man – White Line Fever… (13:32)
TWO LANE HIGHWAY: Hico Killer – Long Mile To Houston (4:50)
Forbidden Fruit (Variations For Voice, String Quartet and Turntables) (10:20) w/ The Kronos Quartet
Blues Nöel (5:53)