Defunkt - Thermonuclear Sweat
(Hannibal, 1982)
No Wave post-punk jazz-rap-funk anyone? Mainman Joseph Bowie's band burn on this, their best album. Kim Clarke's bass-playing is the funkiest you will hear on any record other than those featuring Bootsy Collins, and guest on guitar, Vernon Reid, runs wild. This whole record is shot through with manic intensity, urban psychosis and cynicism, opening as it does with 'Illusion' ("It's just you happiness - illusion") and closing with 'Believing In Love' ("It's just a fantasy - somebody's fantasy"). There's also a cover of The O'Jays' classic, 'For The Love Of Money'. The breathing spaces come in the form of two more covers, first of Kenny Dorham's 'Cocktail Hour', which has barely faded out before the dark funk work-out, 'Ooh Baby', on which Clarke sounds positively possessed by the demon groove. The third cover is of Charlie Parker's 'Big Bird', a more-or-less straight (by Defunkt's standards) jazz rendition. The archetypal tour-Defunkt is 'Avoid The Funk', which opens side two. Clarke, again, is on killer form as the band burn through a groove which finally dissolves into a chaotic and truly thermonuclear meltdown. A cult classic for afficianados of what was the new wave in Jazz-Funk With Attitude.

© Robin Tomens, March 1996.