Review : Various Artists - The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved
Rolling StoneProduced by Hal Wilner, the Robert Altman of all-star concept LPs, this dramatized reading of Hunter S. Thompson's 1970 essay casts Tim Robbins in the lead, with cameos by Dr. John and Ralph Steadman, Thompson's sidekick and frames illustrator. Basically Fear and Loathing at the Track, this album is a rifle-scope piss-take with a heart of darkness and a soundtrack composed by jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, who colors the tale with skewed Dixieland brass, shivering strings and groaning woodwinds. The joke, per usual, is that monsters are everywhere. "Shit," Thompson writes after examining Steadman's horrifying crowd portraits. "We both look worse than anything you've drawn here."...full text
All musicThe Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved is technically the first piece of gonzo journalism from maverick writer Hunter S. Thompson, whose loose-cannon approach to covering the 1970 Kentucky Derby for Scanlan's Monthly included never actually seeing the race, and instead documented the careening alcohol and drug-fueled world surrounding the event. Reprinted years later in Thompson's The Great Shark Hunt, it is much beloved by Thompson fans. This spoken word presentation of it actually turned out pretty interesting, with Tim Robbins turning in a wonderful reading as Thompson, and Bill Frisell's often eerie musical soundtrack making things into a kind of sound collage that somehow fits Thompson perfectly in tone and spirit. This is an audio book with some serious gonzo kick, which is as it should be....full text
Totally gonzoWell what a long road it has been for this project. We first reported on it here at Totally Gonzo back in October of 2009 and have been eagerly awaiting its release ever since. Last November we received a tantalising update on the record courtesy of Ethan Persoff, who also earlier contributed an intriguing profile of Paris Records and their projects to the Evergreen Review. For those of you interested in work by Burroughs, Terry Southern, Ginsberg et al his article is a must read.
I also took particular delight in the fact that Ralph Steadman came on board to play his part in the story, which lends that extra dimension of authentic Gonzo flavour to the album, not to mention his iconic Kentucky Derby artwork that decorates the sleeve of the album and CD itself. The rest of the cast put in solid performances but I have to single out Dr. John for his take on Jimbo which had me grinning like a fool. He absolutely nails the part....full text
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