23 August 2006

It's 1959, baby...

Naked Lunch


Above is my paperback copy of ol' Bill Burroughs' masterpiece The Naked Lunch. It's the second reprint of the Corgi edition, from 1969 (the year I was born). When new, it cost 7s.6d. - whatever the hell that means (overseas readers note: this was just before decimalisation). I dunno why, but I hate buying brand new editions of classic books. I like finding older editions in charity shops and second-hand book stores. I like them to be a bit musty and yellowing. Aged. Well-thumbed. Strange, isn't it? Which edition of The Naked Lunch do you own?

The reason I bring this book up is because I'm currently in the middle of re-reading it. Personally, I find it a bit exasperating. I mean, there's some parts that are just white-hot, and yet other parts that go straight over my head. It's a bit scrambled, but that's part of the process, I suppose. I actually prefer the relatively straight linear storytelling of Junkie (it does exactly what it sez on the tin), but perhaps I'm a bit more conservative when it comes to literary techniques. Plus, I can't fathom why, if a junkie has no sex-drive, half the book seems to be completely obsessed with masturbation and anal sex. I don't think I'm quite getting the big picture. I'm not that well educated, afterall. Perhaps some of you university types could explain it to me. Mind you, some of those sex scenes have me involuntarily giggling like a school boy reading the letters page in Razzle. Bloody filthy!! And you gotta love Dr. Benway ("I recall this one kid, I condition to shit at sight of me. Then I wash his ass and screw him. It was real tasty.")

So this should lead neatly into some Burroughs MP3, or perhaps a track by Cabaret Voltaire, or even Steely Dan! But no, I said I would post nothing but jazz until Loki's return, and post jazz I shall. So maybe a bit of Canterbury-hippy jazz from Soft Machine, to keep with the Burroughs connection, slightly. But no...although Soft Machine are definitely worthy of some attention at a later date. In fact, I'm just gonna focus on the year 1959, the year that The Naked Lunch was first published. That was a heck of a year for jazz, not least for the 'Giant Steps' being taken by key artists like John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman. But it was also the year that Miles Davis recorded Kind Of Blue, which, as just about any book on the subject will tell you, is the greatest jazz album ever made! Whilst Burroughs was busy tying literature in convoluted knots, Davis was trying to simplify the compositional aspects of jazz, reducing the harmonic content to give the melodic aspects more room to maneuver...

Miles Davis - Freddie Freeloader
(I'm hosting this one, so feel free to stream at your leisure. Only available for 7 days, mind, so fix up and look sharp...)

Personally I'm not a massive fan of the album. Whatever made it special in 1959 is a bit lost on my ears, plus I'm not overly keen on the sound of the trumpet. Coltrane's tenor sax sounds well nicer! It's a pleasent enough collection, but I prefer Miles a few years later when he brought in the electric instruments and went with the fusion sound (Bitches Brew! What a reckid!!). But if you're gonna explore the history of jazz, Kind Of Blue one of those cornerstones you need to check. You can buy it here, if you're interested...

7 comments:

Robert said...

Nick,

if u like Bitches Brew, check out the even later electrified Miles...the live jams in Japan

Agartha and Pangea

and Dark Magus


it is like jazz meets Hendrix meets Funkadelic filtered through a special K trip

it is probably unlike any jazz u have EVER heard...makes BB seem as heavy as the Sesame Street jingle, really


funky and LOUD

i need a joint now just thinking about them rekkids :)

Robert said...

i also forgot to mention that he invented drum and bass on one of those records

doppelganger said...

A student gave me a great tape of William Burroughs reading stories over a reggae backbeat - I wonder what the hell that was?

Loki said...

not the disposable heroes of hiphopricy (sp?) album.... spare ass annie?

the X said...
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the X said...
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kek-w said...

Coked-up Electric Era Miles: Now ya talking...

Yeah, what Robert said...and Black Beauty, Big Fun, On The Corner...

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