Review: The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved (Various Artists/Spoken Word – Paris/429 Records)

Hey folks,

Well 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.

As for the Kentucky Derby project well I am delighted to say the wait is finally over and the record is finally available via iTunes and Amazon. I have to say I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first heard about this record. I’m don’t ever really listen to audio books and I always get nervous about any adaptation or interpretation of Thompson’s writing. When it works it is great but when it doesn’t…well the less said the better.

Thankfully, this record has more than exceeded my expectations. Which is a huge relief as The Kentucky Derby article is one of my favourite pieces by Thompson and  is pretty much hallowed ground in the Gonzo cannon. Failure is not an option. I think it is fair to say that full credit must go to Michael Minzer for bringing Hal Willner on board as producer along with composer Bill Frisell, whose accompanying musical score is a delight and without which this project would have no doubt suffered greatly.

As for the cast, obviously the number one question concerns Tim Robbins role as Hunter. When he was first announced in the role I was intrigued. I never thought that he was an obvious choice for the part but I have always been a huge fan of his work ever since I saw The Shawshank Redemption (if you are one of the few mortals who haven’t seen this film then you need to rectify this immediately). I suppose having gotten used to Johnny Depp portraying Thompson onscreen it has become difficult to imagine anyone else playing that role. Comparisons are inevitable, even for such a different project as this. Thankfully however, Robbins is an inspired choice as the Good Doctor. At first it is a bit jarring to hear another actor take on the role, but what a take it is. Robbins brings a wealth of experience to the table here and it really shows. Some people might find Robbins increasingly frenetic delivery a little odd but I think it fits with the material well, particularly as a reflection of the manic energy that defines the Gonzo narrative.

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.

So now that the 138th Kentucky Derby is less than a month away, what better way to mark the occasion than to make yourself a Mint Julep and listen to this fantastic release courtesy of Paris Records and 429 Records.

All the best,

Rory

COMPETITION: If you would like to win 1 0f 5 copies of the album courtesy of 429records than check the Official Totally Gonzo Facebook Page for details.

UPDATE on the Kentucky Derby Is Decadent & Depraved from Paris Records

Hi folks,

 

Received a much appreciated heads-up recently on this project from Ethan Persoff who was lucky enough to get a pre-release listen courtesy of Michael Minzer, owner of Paris Records. Ethan wrote a great piece a while back about the company and their work (material by Burroughs, Ginsberg etc) which you can read here.

As for the Kentucky Derby record, here is what Ethan has to say:

” The album (a seven year effort) is a line-by-line rendition of the original article that Thompson wrote for Scanlan’s. Cast is Hunter S. Thompson played by Tim Robbins, Ralph Steadman performing as himself, and additional voice acting that includes Dr John and Annie Ross.

The music by Bill Frisell is quite strong, and perfect for the text (and not what one would expect). The entire atmosphere adds up to something very memorable – both surprising and a little haunting. I loved it.”

You can read the entire article, including details of the albums release here.

 

Ok for now,

Rory

 

The Rum Diary (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Lakeshore Records

The Rum Diary (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Out digitally on 10/25 / CD available 11/29

01. Volare (Nel Blu Di Pinto Di Blu) – Dean Martin
02. Rum Diary – Christopher Young
03. Suckfish and Snake – Christopher Young
04. Mother of Balls – Christopher Young
05. Chenault – Christopher Young
06. Flagged Me Smiling – Christopher Young
07. Pink Jelly Remains – Christopher Young
08. Rockin’ on Rooster (With My Dead Monkey’s Mother) – Christopher Young
09. Sweat Bee – Christopher Young
10. Cock-Of-The-Rock – Christopher Young
11. Black Note Blues – Christopher Young
12. My Car the Cockroach – Christopher Young
13. Neon Popsicles – Christopher Young
14. Hefti-Tefti – Christopher Young
15. He Must Be a Sadist – Christopher Young
16. Puerto Rican Piss-Off – Christopher Young
17. Whacking a Salesman – Christopher Young
18. The Biggest Crook in New Jersey – Christopher Young
19. Desperate Drunks and Postcard Loons – Christopher Young
20. The Mermaid Song (Instrumental) – Johnny Depp
21. What About El Monstruo? – JD Band
22. Roll Out the Roosters – JD Band
23. Kemp in the Village – Johnny Depp and JJ Holiday
24. The Mermaid Song – Patti Smith

Interesting looking soundtrack. Was expecting more of a selection of different artists but Christopher Young has done some excellent scores in the past. Most notable however is the contribution from Depp and his friend Patti Smith. That I was not expecting.

Cheers,

Rory

UPDATE: It appears that one of the songs in the movie is not actually on the soundtrack. The song in question is After All by Frankie Miller

Paris Records – The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved!

Hey Everybody,

A while back I blogged about this upcoming release and I was wondering how the project was coming along, so I decided to contact Paris Records to find out. Good news – they have just recorded the music tracks for the album in NYC.

Bill Frisell assembled a group of top New York session musicians to record his original compositions for the Paris Records project. Producers Hal Willner and Michael Minzer were very pleased indeed with the results– Minzer described the music as ” a picnic at Cape Fear. ” There’s some eerie tunes comin down……

Also I am delighted that Michael Minzer has decided to kindly share with us some photos from the recording session. 

 left to right: Ron Miles (trumpet), Bill Frisell (composer) and Jenny Scheinman (Violin)        

Willner and Minzer   ” You want THE EDGE ??…You got it!!! ”

I have to say that this project is shaping up to be something really special and as soon as there is a release date I will be sure to let you all know. Hopefully “soon” is the word!

Ok for now,

Rory

UPDATE: Anna Minzer has blogged about her father’s project and has revealed a tentative release date of Fall 2010. To read the article and see more pictures of the recording session click here.

UPDATE 2: Ralph Steadman has the entire Kentucky Derby article including original artwork over at his site.

 

The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved…Album!

Hey folks,

Just received a heads up on this very exciting project. Many thanks to Rupe for spotting this and getting in touch!

So why I am so excited? How does a spoken word album of The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved, starring Tim Robbins as Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Steadman as … well, Ralph Steadman, sound to your Gonzo ears? Believe it or not the project is almost finished and should be coming to light by either the end of the year or early 2010 on Paris Records. Michael Minzer, founder of Paris Records, recently discussed the project with the Evergreenreview, and by the sounds of it we are in for a real treat.

According to Minzer, Robbins’ take on Hunter is the best he has ever heard. He is also thinking of releasing the record on vinyl only, at least for its initial release. Whatever form the release does take it will include previously unpublished photos taken by Steadman at the Derby in 1970!

I want this now!

Check out the entire interview with Michael Minzer here, you have to scroll down half way to read about the project and see a photo of Ralph and Tim recording their parts.

Ron

Preview Stream of The Gonzo Tapes!

 

The Gonzo Tapes
The Gonzo Tapes

Here is a little Halloween treat for Gonzo fans!! I received a great email this week (thanks Amy !) full of information concerning the release of The Gonzo TapesThis truly is the Holy Grail of bad craziness folks! For those of you that may still doubt me (shame on you!) why not listen to the preview and judge for yourselves – and yes that is Hunter and Oscar driving around Vegas listening to One Toke Over The Line!! More thoughts on this release coming soon.

The Gonzo Tapes Stream   

Happy Halloween!,

 

Ron Mexico

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PS: Here is the Official Press Release:

On October 28 Shout! Factory will make available the previously unreleased Gonzo Tapes in a newly produced collection titled The Gonzo Tapes: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, in concurrence with the Magnolia Pictures film release of Gonzo: The Life And Work Of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, directed by Academy Award®-winning director Alex Gibney.

Legendary Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson knew from the beginning of his career that he would one day be famous and so became a dedicated archivist of his own writing, saving copies of all his correspondence including personal letters, drafts for magazines and books, angry letters to his editors, and even notes written on cocktail napkins. But most important to Thompson was his tape recorder, which allowed him to document his experiences as a participant rather than an observer, often setting it down in a bar or hotel room to pick up the mood and conversation, or to record what it was like spending days speeding down highways with the Hell’s Angels.

Recorded by Thompson between 1965 and 1975, these tapes capture his thoughts and descriptions both as they’re happening and in reflection, as he would often go back to rerecord commentary. Filmmaker Alex Gibney, producer Eva Orner and Gonzo archivist Don Fleming were given permission by Thompson’s widow to explore the boxes of tapes stored in the basement of his Owl Farm home in Woody Creek, Colorado, left behind after Thompson’s suicide in 2005. Fleming transferred the audiocassettes and reel-to-reel tapes to digital files, and they made their way to the cutting room for the film Gonzo: The Life And Work Of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.

Gibney, the producer/writer/director of the film who also made “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” and “Taxi to the Dark Side,” writes in his introduction to The Gonzo Tapes, “These tapes were pure gold, lending an intimacy to the film that it couldn’t have had otherwise.” As Loren Jenkins writes in the notes that accompany The Gonzo Tapes, “The idea that these tapes will now be made available to the public to help reveal some of what went on behind the Gonzo screeds is something I believe Hunter would delight in if he were still alive today.”

              The Gonzo Tapes features original cover artwork by Gonzo artist Ralph Steadman, an introduction by film director Alex Gibney, an essay by journalist and Thompson’s fellow foreign correspondent Loren Jenkins, and notes by The Gonzo Tapes producer Don Fleming, former front man of the Velvet Monkeys and Gumball who has produced Sonic Youth, Alice Cooper, Hole, and more.

              Disc 1 of the 5-CD set is titled “Hell’s Angels,” and includes Thompson’s notes from a year of riding with the infamous biker gang, an unprecedented feat from which Thompson made a name for himself and which famously became a book. Discs 2 and 3 contain the notes that materialized as his well-known novel Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, and eventually of course a major motion picture.

            Disc 4, titled “Gonzo Gridlock 1973–1974, captures Thompson in the years following the completion of his book Fear And Loathing: On The Campaign Trail ’72,  recording his thoughts for a new novel, drafts of a never published Rolling Stone story involving Fear and Loathing cohort Oscar Acosta, a cocaine-fueled never-written assignment from Rolling Stone on a book titled Cocaine Papers: Sigmund Freud, as well as notes and an argument with Ralph Steadman during a 1974 trip to Zaire where he was to report on the legendary “Rumble In The Jungle” between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali for Rolling Stone, and which he skipped for a swim in the hotel pool.

             Disc 5, titled “Fear and Loathing in Saigon,” finds Thompson traveling to Vietnam just days before the fall of Saigon in 1975, where, armed with a cooler of beer and wearing Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, he rode to the front line and observed the final major combat action of the war. The day before Saigon fell Thompson left for Laos to work on a story he had in mind about CIA concentration camps.

Shout! Factory is a diversified entertainment company devoted to producing, uncovering and revitalizing the very best of pop culture – The Stuff You Grew Up On But Never Outgrew.  Founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos have spent their careers sharing their music, television and film faves with discerning consumers the world over. Shout! Factory’s DVD offerings serve up classic, contemporary and cult TV series, riveting sports programs, live music, animation and documentaries in lavish packages crammed with extras. The company’s audio catalogue boasts Grammy®-nominated boxed sets, new releases from storied artists and lovingly assembled album reissues. These riches are the result of a creative acquisitions mandate that has established the company as a hotbed of cultural preservation and commercial reinvention.  For more on Shout! Factory, visit www.shoutfactory.com.

The Gonzo Tapes Now Available for Pre-Order

You can now Pre-Order The Gonzo Tapes through Amazon. The five-disc set is priced $59.98 and you can check out the artwork below.

From Amazon : “Recorded by Hunter S. Thompson between 1965 and 1975, these tapes capture his thoughts and descriptions both as they’re happening and in reflection, as he would often go back to rerecord commentary while writing. Filmmaker Alex Gibney, producer Eva Orner and Gonzo archivist Don Fleming were given permission by Thompson’s widow to explore the boxes of tapes stored in the basement of his Owl Farm home in Woody Creek, Colorado, left behind after Thompson’s suicide in 2005. Fleming transferred the audiocassettes and reel-to-reel tapes to digital files, and they made their way to the cutting room for the film Gonzo: The Life And Work Of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Now for the first time these previously unreleased recordings are available in a 5-CD set. The Gonzo Tapes features original cover artwork by Gonzo artist Ralph Steadman, an amazing 44-page booklet full of never-before-seen images from Hunter S. Thompson’s estate, along with memorable photos and an introduction by film director Alex Gibney, an essay by journalist and Thompson’s fellow foreign correspondent Loren Jenkins, and notes by The Gonzo Tapes producer Don Fleming, former front man of the Velvet Monkeys and Gumball who has produced Sonic Youth, Alice Cooper, Hole, and more.”

 

I want a copy nowwwwwwwwww!!!!

Ron Mexico

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Official Tracklisting for Hunter S. Thompson’s Gonzo Tapes – Updated Aug: 28th

UPDATE AUG: 28th –  the set includes a 44-page booklet that includes track notes as well as archival photos courtesy of the Thompson estate.

Gonzo Tapes Tracklist:

Disc 1 – Hell’s Angels:

Bass Lake Run . . . Terry The Tramp Interview #1 . . . Driving Back Through Oakland . . . The Merry Pranksters Welcome The Hell’s Angels . . . It’s A Long Dirty Story . . . Ha-Ha, Not Thump-Thump . . . Terry The Tramp Interview #2 . . . Zing Zong Wing Ding Rush . . . A Question For The Ages

 

Disc 2 – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

We Have Seized The High Ground . . . One Toke Over The Line . . . If All Else Fails We Must Get Ether . . . In Search Of The American Dream . . . Terry’s Taco Stand, USA . . . Anybody In Search Of The American Dream Needs A Lawyer, A Doctor And A Bodyguard

 

Disc 3 – More Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Goddamn! This Monster’s Licking My Arm! . . . Oscar Fled In Terror . . . Drug Up . . . Weird Road . . . Across This Treacherous Sand . . . A Huge Tidal Wave Will Come In On Me Now . . . Vegas D.A. Final Notes . . . The Whole Room Is Total Chaos . . . Wenner Calls . . . With A Big “W” in 65-Pt Type

 

Disc 4 – Gonzo Gridlock 1973-1974

Guts Ball . . . Cozumel . . . Fear And Loathing In Acapulco . . . Freud Cocaine Papers . . . Fear And Loathing In Kinshasa

 

Disc 5 – Fear and Loathing in Saigon

I’m The One That’s Supposed To Be Crazy . . . Hotel Continental Palace . . . The Thursday Night Panic . . . Last Stand At Xuan Loc . . . Hong Kong . . . The Last Dispatch From Saigon

Jesus I can’t wait to get my hands on this !!

 

Later,

 

Ron Mexico

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