Crystal Telephone

Terry Durham

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Crystal Telephone Review

by Jason Ankeny

Pairing poet Terry Durham with talents including avant-garde saxophonist Evan Parker and veteran arranger John Coleman, Crystal Telephone remains one of the singular records of the late '60s, a lush and funky word-jazz fantasia shrouded in cigarette smoke and drunk on language. Durham's crushed-velvet voice recalls John Cale's spoken word recitation of "The Gift" on the Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat, albeit couched in Coleman's cinematic, thickly rhythmic jazz-rock settings. His vividly perverse song-poems capture the romantic allure of fatalism (or is that the fatal allure of romance?), and his attempts at crooning, especially Crystal Telephone's transcendent title cut, are particularly effective. A masterpiece of decadence and indulgence.

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