Sunday, January 12, 2014
Flash Strap Presents: Exotiste•Control Car, The Jaws of the Pink Widow (Lalo Schifrin's Black Widow)
When I first heard Lalo Schifrin's 1976 disco-jazz LP, Black Widow, I was simultaneously excited and disappointed. Schifrin's work is often amazing, and the idea that he might pack an album with exotica standards and tackle them with a heavy disco funkiness and complex jazzy interplay (replete with synths) is a potential promise of paradise indeed. And it is a really cool album, in places-- depending on your taste for disco, it may well rank as a minor masterpiece-- but for my money, the disco was a little too far over that slick line, so polished and sleazy that it's hard to get a grip on that burnished and speeding surface. It's not that the rhythms aren't deep and fat, nor that the musicians aren't doing interesting, invested work. Maybe it's just me, but when I heard Black Widow I thought to myself, this pony needs to slow itself right on down.
So I did just that, as I have done before, both on the Exotiste series and Afrokraut•Control Car. It may make for an interesting supplement to Lalo's own album, or just a great cruisin' soundtrack. I like it a lot, myself. The Exotica tracks (Quiet Village, Tabu, Frenesi, Flamingo, and two versions of Baia) were the draw for me, obviously, and they make up the bulk of the thing's runtime, but the biggest standout is "Jaws." Lalo's own version is the jewel of the original as well (and a bit of a hit in '76), dark and funky and naturally very menacing. The chopped-and-screwed version here is a lot of fun to my ears, stretched out to ten intense minutes of prowling danger: I picture an eyebrow-less Scwarzenegger from the first Terminator, on patrol in that cop car, on his way to meet up with that guy with the cowboy hat at the leather bar in Cruising. And then a great pink shark collides explosively with a mack truck in an industrial setting ringed with palm trees underneath a nuclear sunset. This, I picture.
Allow me, then, to present The Jaws of the Pink Widow, the best tracks of Schifrin's album treated to the Exotiste•Control Car touch, a sludgy armageddon of exotica tracks retooled for Robocop funk and dangerous dancing.
And here's the original. It's not my favorite thing ever but it's still a hell of a something. If you're really into disco and damn-it-all you like your disco a little slick, then this is a holy grail. Definitely highly recommended.