| December 1979|
| August 1979|
| Industrial music, Dark ambient|
DoA: The Third and Final Rep, The Second Annual R, Heathen Earth, Throbbing Gristle's Greatest, In the Shadow of the Sun
20 Jazz Funk Greats is the third studio album by British industrial music group Throbbing Gristle, released in December 1979 by the band's label Industrial Records. It has been hailed as the band's best work, with UK magazine Fact naming it the best album of the 1970s.
20 Jazz Funk Greats is the band's first fully studio album, as prior albums contained both live and studio recordings. The production is credited to "Sinclair/Brooks". The album was recorded on a 16-track borrowed from Paul McCartney after Peter Christopherson had worked on artwork for McCartney.
Pitchfork described the album's style as such: "In a smash and grab that testifies to both increased musical ambition and a relentless urge to wrongfoot audience expectations, 20 Jazz Funk Greats finds the band waking up from D.O.A's dark night of the soul and feeling curiously frisky. Snacking on not only the titular funk and jazz, the band also takes touristic zig zags through exotica, rock and disco", ultimately describing it as a "kitsch detour toward mutant disco". Uncut Magazine wrote that "musically, it turned away from the precipice; not exactly jazz and funk, but sublimating TG’s noise elements within electronic rhythms and proto-exotica." Dusted Magazine described the album as "a deliberate attempt to toy with the ideas behind marketing strategy and the purpose of musical genres."
The album's cover photograph was taken at Beachy Head, a chalk headland on the south coast of England, known as one of the world's most notorious suicide spots. In a 2012 interview, Cosey explained the album cover and title:
We did the cover so it was a pastiche of something you would find in a Woolworth’s bargain bin. We took the photograph at the most famous suicide spot in England, called Beachy Head. So, the picture is not what it seems, it is not so nicey nicey at all, and neither is the music once you take it home and buy it. We had this idea in mind that someone quite innocently would come along to a record store and see [the record] and think they would be getting 20 really good jazz/funk greats, and then they would put it on at home and they would just get decimated.
On the 1981 Fetish Records issue of the release an apparently dead and naked male body lay in front of the band on the album cover.
Pitchfork characterized 20 Jazz Funk Greats as Throbbing Gristle's peak, writing that "it's in the pathos of their promiscuous liasions with the forbidden territory of various forms of "real music" that this album generates a weirdly gripping power of its own." AllMusic described the album as "the best compromise between TG's early industrial aesthetic and the realms of industrial-dance and dark synth-pop groups that used the album as a stepping stone to crossover appeal."
Pitchfork ranked 20 Jazz Funk Greats at number 91 in its list of the 100 greatest albums of the 1970s. UK magazine Fact named it the best album of the 1970s, writing that "This album is a rupture. It’s an open crack into the unpronounceable dimensions into which tumble important streams of 20th century pop, art and underground culture, to seethe around each other, mingling, festering, sprouting new and unpredictable forms which in turn would ooze out to infest vast sections of what comes after."
All tracks written by Throbbing Gristle (Genesis P-Orridge, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Chris Carter, Peter Christopherson).Genesis P-Orridge – vocals, bass guitar, violin, vibraphone, synthesizer
Cosey Fanni Tutti – guitar, synthesizer, cornet, vocals
Chris Carter – synthesizer, album sequencing, drum programming, vocals
Peter Christopherson – tape, vibraphone, cornet, vocals
Sinclair/Brooks – production
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