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  • Spy Vs. Spy [CASSETTE]
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Spy Vs. Spy [CASSETTE]

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Product details

  • Audio Cassette (22 Aug. 1989)
  • Label: Wea Corp
  • ASIN: B00000EKE0
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

1. WRU
2. Chronology
3. Word for Bird
4. Good Old Days
5. Disguise
6. Enfant
7. Rejoicing
8. Blues Connotation
9. C. & D.
10. Chippie
11. Peace Warriors
12. Ecars
13. Feet Music
14. Broad Way Blues
15. Space Church
16. Zig Zag
17. Mob Job

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Beowulf "Wulfie" Mayfield on 19 May 2002
Format: Audio CD
THIS album, for my money at any rate, deserves to be a cornerstone of any serious collection of contemporary jazz.
Paying homage to one of the founding fathers of avant-garde and free jazz, Ornette Coleman, this album brought the music bang up to date when it was released at the end of the 1980s.
The line-up is remarkable - two alto saxophones, two drummers and a lone double bass. The result is a lot of noise and nothing spared in the way of energy.
The music moves at a frantic pace, John Zorn and Tim Bryne screech, squeal, honk and squawk at 90mph with the double drums thundering in hot pursuit with the bass driving things along. Many tracks are barely a minute in length but that's not necessarily a bad thing - intense performance like this are best taken in shot glass measures with a pause for breath in between.
The cover artwork is pretty remarkable as well - a set of cartoon-like images which looked best on the original vinyl LP sleeve, the scaled-down CD format sadly makes the detail rather difficult to enjoy. Too bad.
Dinner jazz this ain't, this is music to set the pulse racing - when Allen Ginsberg describes angel-headed hipsters searching for an 'angry fix' in Howl, this album provides a whole set of furious aural fixes. Hear it and get hooked!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 17 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
It shouldn't work, but it does 21 Jun. 2000
By N. Dorward - Published on
Format: Audio CD
It's been a while since I listened intensely to Zorn--used to listen a lot to albums like _Spillane_ but have been less excited by them than before. However, I just dug out _Spy Vs Spy_ again, & think it remains a fine disc. Thrashy, ultra-loud, ultra-fast versions of Ornette Coleman tunes...sounds like it should be a travesty, but it actually works phenomenally well. The album is split into two halves (the original A and B sides): the first consists of the bluntest & fastest renditions of tunes, each about one to two minutes in length. A highlight is "Chippie"--if you listen carefully at the end of the cut after the smoke clears you can hear someone breathe a sigh of relief! It's intense & funny--Joey Baron & Michael Vatcher pounding away, Mark Dresser calmly doing his thing, Tim Berne & John Zorn squalling madly. Part two (side B) has more varied & considered interpretations (some as long as 5 minutes), which often move farther from the source material. I recommend "Ecars", a terrifically swinging rendition of a tune Ornette recorded for _Ornette on Tenor_; and the final "Mob Job", which Zorn turns into a yearning, pained and painful blues, is a stunning conclusion.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Not all thrash jazz. 29 April 2005
By Michael Stack - Published on
Format: Audio CD
The avant-garde jazz movements have their share of detractors, and they have their share of fanatics. And to many in the latter category, touching this music in a fashion other than originally intended is often akin to the greatest acts of travisty-- loving music that is so decidingly unpopular tends to have the effect of defensiveness-- as a result, its often the case that anyone who covers a piece from the avant-garde without doing a reading in a similar form often comes under harsh criticism from both the fanatics and the detractors-- even when Ornette Coleman got his band plugged in and changed some elements of his style, he came under harsh criticism. I suppose its often the case that its only acceptable to be different in the right ways.

It is, of course, in this context that John Zorn has recorded an album that is universally unpopular on both sides of the fence and unfairly criticisized for its most overt elements. Zorn (on alto sax), with support from Tim Berne (also alto sax), Mark Dresser (bass), Joey Baron (drums) and Michael Vatcher (drums) put together an album of Ornette Coleman songs-- often played in a proto-Naked City hardcore "thrash jazz" style-- at least on the first half of the album, the second side is a different story altogether, and any criticism of this as an album of all the same breakneck hardcore thrash jazz shows the record was not listened to all the way through.

Zorn was heavily influenced by hardcore bands and apparanetly saw no reason to keep this idiom separate from jazz (and later he'd let his take of his critics known on the sublimely titled Naked City track, "Jazz Snob- Eat S***").

So quite a bit on this record is aggressive, and angry, and relentless ("Good Old Days"), but there's a lot more to it than that, a lot of contrast can be made in the sing-song theme statements vs. the cartoon/hardcore influenced solos ("Blues Connotation"), and while the record has been criticized as a screech fest, it is more often the case that one or both sax players will play melodic lines ("Rejoicing", "C&D"), and it does pre-sage both Naked City and Masada to some degree-- check out the dual soloing throughout on pieces like "The Disguise".

The second side is a different story altogether, although somewhat muddy in its sound (the first side is too, but it seems less important), we get some great riffing and fantastic, swinging playing-- check out "Ecars", "Feet Music", or one of my favorites, the stunning "Broadway Blues" take. Its still pretty outside, but I think its a lot easier to deal with than the first side.

Truth to be told, what I really think is that the album is in severe need of remastering-- the sound is muddy and the mix is kind of odd, and this definitely detracts from the album, but nonetheless, its a great record. Recommended.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
hardcorebaroquethrashjazz 11 Dec. 2006
By Mr. Richard K. Weems - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Ornette Coleman's music is such an enigma because of its inability to fit to any one style of music...or because of its amorphous nature that lets it connect to so many other styles of music. This disc takes some acclimation, but its severe bombasity (even in the 'slower' tracks of the second half) is rewarding if your ears can live through the initial assault.

But that IS John Zorn's way, isn't it? At least in some of these early recordings...he slaps you upside the head with quick changes and Napalm Death speed and an onslaught that he used to carpet bomb himself an area of music that he could then go back to and refine a little. In the end, I think Zorn overevolved a bit and became a dinosaur whose carapace was too thorny to lift, but these earlier recordings have an intense sense of exploration about them, of wanting to find out where he could go and, I think, how far up the wall he could drive others.

And all this is why Coleman's music is so fitting to this spirit. Ornette Coleman has branched out his own music into multimedia explorations and different combinations, including orchestra. But it took Zorn to bring this music into a mosh pit to ironically bring out the baroque elements of the music--the precision of the cascades and the sudden, but fitting endings. This disc is worth a few listens, even if those around you are cursing their names under their breath.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
great idea gone wrong 29 Nov. 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Zorn's take on Ornette's music misses much of the subtle qualities. This is fast, hardcore, punk rock interpretations of Coleman's music, rather than a "tribute". While the players are extremely talented (Zorn is an eclectic, knowledgeable player and theorist), the dynamics here are very few; most songs are taken at around 300-to-the-quarter, and the solos consist of little more than biting the reed and honking, rather than mixing it up as, say, Pharoah Sanders might.
I should also add that Charlie Haden, in a jazz magazine interview, heard this album and thought it was noisy, that the players had little idea of what Ornette's music was about, and that they seemed to thrive on violence and volume, which is as far away as you can get from Harmolodics.
Still, a curious listen.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A fantastic interpretation of a challenging body of work 15 Jan. 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Cover versions of Ornette Coleman compositions usually entail a safe rehashing of the tune "Lonely Woman". Zorn's Coleman tribute stays true to the spirit of the original work and still manages to successfully present a drastic new perspective. The group, two saxes and two drummers, roars through the tunes at an exhilaratingly fast tempo. The percussion is driven and frantic, owing much to Zorn's love for Hardcore bands like Napalm Death. The result is a powerful, inspired session. Essentially, Zorn has taken the tunes apart, carried them into another musical style, and put them back together again. The result is a welcome statement about a body of work that still remains largely in a vaccuum.
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