Marc Black

Big Dong Dharma

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Given the mildly smutty album title, the crazed cover photo, and the fact that this was released on the estimably strange ESP label (albeit in 1979, well after the imprint's glory days), one might expect Big Dong Dharma to be one freaky time. In fact, it sounds like a somewhat jazzier version of Adrian Belew's goofy prog-pop solo albums, or perhaps Steely Dan on laughing gas. Backed by a group comprised primarily of jazz and R&B session regulars like drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist Mark Egan, Black essays jazz and funk-infused pop songs with a clean disco-ready sheen and just enough oddity and originality not to sound entirely empty and glossy. Oddities like the vocal exercise "Eat That Food" and the bizarre "No Moon Oh Moon Choir" are just weird enough to make the more pop-oriented tunes, like the semi-funky R&B workout "Cushy Cushy Vibe," work.

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