Daily Download: "Contort Yourself," James Chance

A free download from no-wave legend James Chance

Published June 22, 2005 7:01AM (EDT)

As the dance-rock craze spazzes on, it's instructive to revisit one of the true but underrecognized masters, the great James Chance, sax maniac, who led the Contortions and also recorded under the name James White and the Blacks. Chance was one of the leading lights of New York's "no wave" scene, but his music, a bizarre mash-up of disco, funk, free jazz and new wave rock, never really fit into that or any other scene, and seems to have been largely forgotten. Chance performs rarely these days, and his shows are a good deal less dangerous than they used to be (back in the day, he routinely attacked audience members), but if you're lucky enough to hear him live, you'll find that he's still one of the most potent, and strangest, performers around. Despite his relative obscurity, Chance has the kind of mythic, magnetic presence of legends like Lou Reed and Nick Cave, and a devilish sense of humor (much of it focused on playing with racial identity) all his own. "Contort Yourself" is one of Chance's iconic tunes.

By Salon Staff

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