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The Gonzo Tapes: The Life And Work Of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

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Album Review

It's fair to assume that Hunter S. Thompson's medicine cabinet sparked the fire for his journalistic style, but a lesser-known fact is that music motivated his writings just as much, if not more. John Prine's "Samstone" was spun countless times on his turntable as he furiously pounded "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail" out on his typewriter, Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow was on heavy repeat while drafting "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", and James Booker's "Gonzo" not only fueled the momentum of "Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga", but it was the original source for the term used to define Thompson's New Journalism writing style. Even more notable than the chance to peek at the ingredients used to concoct Thompson's creative juices (a smidge of Bob Dylan here, a splash of Warren Zevon there), is the rare opportunity to hear the one and only song that he penned himself. "Weird and Twisted Nights" was co-written with his illustrating partner in crime Ralph Steadman, and, despite its lacking fidelity, it is a downright wonderful pop gem; one that circus-mirrors an LSD-fueled sea shantey and effortlessly brings together the reckless abandon of Dr. John and the trippy weirdness of Tomorrow's psych nugget "My White Bicycle." Many of the songs on Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, Music from the Film seem especially fitting for analyzing the pretty colors of Haight Ashbury, but instead of merely piling on bender-influenced songs of the '60s, there are a number of straight forward, mellow ballads that Thompson used to soothe his soul while coming down. Lyle Lovett's "If I had a Boat" and Jo Stafford's "Haunted Heart" don't immediately bring to mind the madcap depravity often associated with Thompson, but make sense when remembering that Thompson spent much of his down time relaxing in a hammock on Owl Farm. Encapsulated with Californian peace power staples by his personal favorites the Youngbloods and Jefferson Airplane, story-driven narratives "Walk on the Wild Side" and "Send Lawyers, Guns and Money,", and the obvious ganja-referencing inclusions "Tambourine Man" and "One Toke Over the Line", the album becomes a fascinating porthole to Hunter's essence, excellently pieced together. Snippets from cassette-taped rough drafts (featured in full on the overly bloated box set The Gonzo Tapes) and soundboard clips of Johnny Depp reading Thompson's works tie everything together neatly in a tidy package that pays perfect tribute to the one of a kind icon. An insightful photo-filled 40-page booklet with notes written by Depp is icing on the cake.

Customer Reviews

Like a Time Machine

For fans of Hunter Thompson, this collection is an unbelievable insight to his mindset and the truth of his own experience. For someone like myself, to be able to study these recordings in detail is a truely an incredible opportunity to go back in time and travel along with Hunter (and sometimes Ralph and Oscar) on several of his/their many adventures.
The ambiance in the recordings is really some of the best material. Sounds of vehicles, voices, television, radio, etc. gives the listener an incredible sonic experience, my recommendation: turn off the lights, put on your headphones, and let this collection take you back in time in TRUE Gonzo fashion if you know what I mean ;).
I've listened to the entire collection multiple times and it remains very interesting and strangely comforting. It certainly wasn't recorded in a sound studio and if it had been it wouldn't have been worth it.
I can only hope that one day they'll decide to release more!


Born: July 18, 1937 in Louisville, KY

Genre: Fiction & Literature

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Journalist/author Hunter S. Thompson was an integral part of the 1960s counter-culture, but for all his wild, freewheeling antics, he could not have been less of a hippie. A gun-toting, drug-experimenting free thinker, Thompson was more in the libertarian mold. His rip-up-the-rulebook lifestyle led him to his notorious “gonzo” journalism style, which involved immersing himself in the action he was covering. He applied his brand of extreme journalism to everything from the Hell's Angels to the 1972...
Full Bio

Top Albums and Songs by Hunter S. Thompson

The Gonzo Tapes: The Life And Work Of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, Hunter S. Thompson
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  • $24.99
  • Genres: Spoken Word, Music, Soundtrack
  • Released: Oct 28, 2008
  • Parental Advisory

Customer Ratings