Whereas August Darnell and the actually-not-related Was brothers became ZE's primary disco architects, the Milwaukee-born James Siegfried (but New York reborn James Chance aka James White) was the label's greatest artist on the noisy end of its sound spectrum. After splitting from romantic partner Lydia Lunch and leaving behind in 1978 the group their Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, this saxophonist/singer/provocateur simultaneously released two ZE albums recorded with two overlapping bands one year later.
The Contortions immediately won Chance a reputation as a provocateur: he'd so forcefully confront concertgoers that he regularly traded fisticuffs with them. For all the wildness of his sax screeching and honking, the band is ridiculously precise. Sharpening the jagged aspects of James Brown and the JB's until nothing was left but splinters, Chance speeds up soul grooves to punk tempos as Jody Harris'fractured funk guitar riffs collide with Pat Place's slide guitar swoops that evoke the sound effect announcing every Looney Tunes cartoon. And that's what this is: Looney Tunes punk-funk complete with the frying-pan-to-the-skull punch lines.