Deniz Tek & James Williamson: Acoustic KO (Leopard Lady)

Deniz Tek & James Williamson
Acoustic KO
(Leopard Lady)

Deniz Tek and James Williamson’s 4-song EP is an interesting exercise taking some Iggy Pop/James Williamson songs from ‘Raw Power’ and ‘Kill City’ and redoing them acoustically. (Original recorded version of “No Sense of Crime” was largely acoustic.) These songs adapt pretty well to acoustic probably due to there being written on acoustic (according to Williamson), so the songs are in a sense being taken back to their roots.

Things start off with “I Need Somebody” featuring what sounds like Tom Waits’ drummer King Kong stomping through the tune. Before being instrumental in Aussie proto punk band Radio Birdman, Tek grew up with the Stooges’ Asheton brothers in Ann Arbor. So he has a family tree connection to all that became proto whatever from ’74.

Next up, “Penetration,” also translates well to the acoustic. On this song they break out the piano, horns, backup vocals, and sundry percussion accoutrements. While not sounding quite as dangerous as the original, nor quite as seductively groovy, it still succeeds in casting some sort of spell.

“Night Theme” takes a different acoustic tack, starting off sparsely with only guitars at first and slower than the original, then adding flesh with vocal backing, that would sound at home in gospel heaven, taking the melody line that was the acid-tense high-register slide guitar. An exotica break introduces a touch of the far east (incidentally, some of this record was recorded in Hawaii). Kettle drums and xylophone crescendo, then things drop down to a Danny Elfman glockenspiel and strings valley, a reprise of the theme, then all tis up in a big cinematic bow of bombast.

Things come back down for “No Sense of Crime” with Annie Hardy of Giant Drag joining Deniz on vocals. Her voice sounding like a less-palatable Ricki Lee Jones, grated on me for the first few listens but eventually brought me around to liking it.

‘Acoustic KO’ is basically easier-listening versions of the originals, which isn’t bad. It’s as if they were created in the alternate reality of now.

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