Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Defunkt - 1982 - Thermonuclear Sweat

Thermonuclear Sweat

01. Illusion 5:32
02. I Tried To Live Alone 5:06
03. Cocktail Hour (Blue Bossa) 3:27
04. Ooh Baby 6:05
05. Avoid The Funk 4:26
06. Big Bird (Au Private) 2:07
07. For The Love Of Money 5:52
08. Believing In Love 7:12

Bass - Kim Clarke
Drums - Kenny Martin
Guitar - Kelvyn Bell
Guitar - Richard Martin
Guitar - Vernon Reid
Saxophone - Dave Hubbard
Trombone, Lead Vocals - Joseph Bowie
Trumpet - John Mulkerin
Vocals - Clarice Taylor

Joeseph Bowie was a working member of the 70s NYC avant-jazz set when he happened to be in the right place at the right time to be pulled into New York's new up and coming so called punk-jazz scene. Joe first worked with the unintentional originators of this scene, Ornette Coleman and James Ulmer, as a sideman as they introduced a new gritty energetic form of fusion that was an antidote for LA's bland fuzak. After that, Joe worked with one of NYC's first full-blown post-punk jazz poseurs, James White, in one of his many tongue-in-cheek cynical and sarcastic funk ensembles. From there Bowie struck out on his own with his Defunkt group that borrowed from James White's punky ascetic, but introduced far better musicianship and more sincere lyrics and presentation.
Thermo Nuclear Sweat is the second outing for Bowie's Defunkt ensemble, and it finds them already searching for what they might do next when the jazz-punk fad will inevitably fade. Most of this album is fairly similar to the first with a lot of raw funk tunes played with punkish abandon and avant jazz chops, but the wave of trendy enthusiasm that gave the first album a lot of propulsion is starting to show signs of doubt on this second outing. In the ever changing NYC music scene, post punk irony is about to be replaced by the more spartan hardcore scene and Defunkt's funky pork pie hats will be replaced by Last Exit's brutal primal scream in the world of avant-jazz rock. Surely a bad sign is the fact that Defunkt includes two classic jazz tunes on here that are passed off as post-punk lounge ironica, when in fact the band just copped out and fell back on the standard working tunes of their jazz days because they were running out of ideas.

The big plus on here is the guitar work of Vernon Reid who plays wacky deconstructionist solos on the jazz tunes, and searing psychedelia on the mostly instrumental rock-funk number Ooh Baby. Joeseph is great on the trombone as usual, but he can't sing and neither can the rest of his group with their almost shouted back-ups. The repetitive almost spoken monotone 'beatnik' vocals are always a minus with this band. Defunkt would have been a lot more powerful with a real singer. Anyway, overall this is a fun album and a great time capsule of NYC club life in the early 80s.

This is incredibly good jazz funk and this is the record that really got me interested in the genre. The funk comes through with the rhythms laid down on bass and drums. The soloists on guitar, trombone, trumpet are brilliant throughout. 
Thermonuclear Sweat_ is the condition that results after cranking this.


  1. I loved this album when I was in my late twenties....wish there was a download link for it, I no longer have my vinyl copy.

  2. I loved this band when I was in my late twenties. Dont have the vinyl anymore and wish there was a download link for this. But regardless, good on this blog for pointing out how innovative this group was. And thank you for the link to their first release.