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Albums Of The Week: James White And The Blacks | Melt Yourself Down

Get back, jack — all the way to 1986 — as the legendary New York no-wave sax maniac and frantic funkateer brings a vintage Japanese release to North America.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:James White tore up the city blueprints and charted his own map through the sonic sprawl of New York, perfecting a jittery, manic attack on sax and vocals and adopting the persona of a lounge singer in the waiting room of Hell. A maelstrom of chaotic transformations of funk, jazz (et al.) with equal parts James Brown and James White originals that rank among the most incendiary in his repertoire, this 1986 album is available outside of Japan for the first time.

Due to its plethora of sublime rhythms and prismatic shimmy, a party atmosphere is in full effect on Melt Yourself Down. The band present a master class of cutting-edge downtown New York City funk that evokes an endless evening riding N.Y.C.’s late-night slipstream. White’s avatar, the Godfather himself, James Brown, is paid respects with a pair of hot takes, including Super Bad, which kicks off the album. Later, during Cold Sweat, White grows increasingly agitated, injecting an element of chaos into the methodical groove while adding some of his own coitus-inspired lyrics.

Hell On Earth brings home the bacon and fries it in the flames the band calls forth as they rub sax, guitar and bass together in a manner that can only be described as biblical. On this final cut — with his innate understanding that performance is ritual — the flaming demonics that White calls up are in full, infernal swing. Melt Yourself Down executes White’s prime directive: Provoke pleasure, by any means necessary.”