"Soul Exorcism Redux" is a newly expanded version of a June 1980 Rotterdam concert, recorded during the same legendary European tour immortalized on the Contortions' classic "Live aux Bains Douches" set. That remarkable live album captured James Chance a.k.a. White moving perceptibly away from the sonic aggression (grinding gears atop tightly wound rhythmic patterns, based on free jazz and sped-up J.B.'s funk), forged with the original Contortions on three seminal studio albums: the influential, Eno-produced "No New York" (1978), followed by two classic studio albums issued by Ze in 1979, "Buy" (Contortions) and "Off White" (James White & The Blacks). These recordings are ferocious funk/punk landmarks, music so fully realized and ahead of its time as to sound utterly fresh and singular even now, more than a quarter century later.
By 1980 the original band members (Jody Harris, Pat Place, Adele Bertei, George Scott, Don Christensen)had left, and James was moving into a jazzier/funk direction, opening up the sound with longer tracks and more space for the band members to play off each other, and a more danceable (though hardly less emotionally intense) rhythmic approach. It may help to recall that James Chance emerged during a racially polarized era, when contemporary black music was still being dismissed as 'disco', to appreciate the audacity of his conception. It was shocking to hear, on "Live aux Bains Douches" (or "Soul Exorcism"), Chance and his fantastic young band rip into Michael Jackson's then-recent dance hit "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough" and claim it as their own. Just as astonishing was the slow burn intensity and passion brought to James Brown's "King Heroin". "Soul Excorcism" may be a notch below the previous set in terms of sound quality, but the new remastering helps - somewhat - as does another wildly accomplished performance that includes several tracks not on the French disc (which had been recorded a few weeks earlier). Now (2007) ROIR has added three fascinating studio tracks from 1987, a period during which Chance no longer had a record label and was pretty much out of the public eye. Fans will want this material, and the insightful 1990 liner notes by the auteur. For the bigger bang, track down "Irresistable Impulse", the four CD boxed set issued by Tiger Style in 2004, before the price skyrockets - it's a terrific career-spanning treasure trove, and, sadly, already out of print.