Thursday, January 28, 2021

Ken Nordine "Passion in the Desert"

(FM, 1963) Topping even the notorious Mama Lion album cover for big cat/human boob action, this album of the late great Ken Nordine reading a Balzac story is a grower, not a shower. The A-side showcases Nordine's alchemical vox cutting through HdB's London/Conrad-esque Man V Terrain narrative like cold steel on ice, and I guess that would have been enough, though it didn't feel especially special. But, as promised by the freaky cover, side 2 goes there! It becomes an erotic love story of a man becoming deeply, emotionally intimate with a leopard. It is clear why Nordine felt he could make word jazz out of this tragic forbidden love story, because it is a challenge and a crazy thing to make this bizarre story of survival and passion and doom tangible. He is ably accompanied by the slinky sounds produced by Dick Marks (I guess Marx, father of both Richard and the theme song of those Blackhawks whom Nordine would promote so magnificently, had to un-Red his name during the Cold War era) and Johnny Frigo. The cover alone makes this a bargain at any price, but to contain a few passages of Nordine's arguable wildest work makes this a beastly treasure.

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