Long before Red Hot Chili Peppers found a way to fuse funk and punk in a clownish way that could appeal to frat boys and other safely mainstream audiences, James Chance & the Contortions were combining the energy of early punk with the rhythmic jolts of funk and jazz to upend the expectations of even the most jaded underground-music scenester. Such angular, bent and rhythmically abrasive tracks as “Contort Yourself” were closer to Captain Beefheart artiness than to the easy-listening jock rock of later white-funk imitators. Chance’s frantic shouting and noisy saxophone interpolations were a likely influence on latter-day NYC musical heirs as Jon Spencer, but there’s nothing like the bracing assault of such James Brown–inspired eviscerations as The Contortions’ “Design to Kill” and “Don’t Want to Be Happy.” Also Friday, Sept. 14.
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