James Chance

Paris 1980 Live Aux Bains Douches

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Originally released via a French label in 1980 soon after its recording, and getting a long overdue domestic issue in 2004 as part of the ZE label's reactivation, Paris 1980 Live Aux Bains Douches acts as a counterpart to the ROIR Live in New York/White Cannibal set, recorded around the same period. With a different set list to the NYC tape, as well as much clearer sound, Live Aux Bains Douches, recorded at the Paris venue of that name in front of a loudly appreciative crowd, has plenty of snarling passion from Chance and company, but also the same sense of control and skill that makes his early albums so gripping. Blasting off with the astonishing reworking of Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" -- at once recognizable, danceable and screwed up, especially when Chance takes over on sax towards the end -- the show varies between similarly devolved covers and takes on originals. One easily gets the sense of how Chance and his band concentrated on balancing out all elements of their performance -- the soft, chanted backing vocals on "I Danced With a Zombie" act as perfect contrast to the clipped, upfront slow funk burn musically, while "Put Me Back in My Cage" builds to a fantastic, triumphant conclusion, a band totally on top of its particular, near-unique game. As on White Cannibal, two James Brown covers give Chance an opportunity to salute a particular hero -- "I Got You (I Feel Good)" gets a downright straightforward performance, with even Chance's sax solo not going too far afield, while "King Heroin," though Chance's singing is far different from Brown's, similarly keeps a slow, sorrowful mood at its core.

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