A dramatized reading of Hunter S. Thompson’s The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent & Depraved will be pressed on vinyl for the first time, out July 15 via Shimmy-Disc/Paris Records.
The reading of the essay — originally published in Scanlon’s Monthly in June 1970 — features Tim Robbins as Thompson and Dr. John as Jimbo. Illustrator Ralph Steadman voices himself; naturally, his iconic artwork is featured on the release, which will be pressed on “horse-shit brown” vinyl. You can hear “On Our Way Back to the Motel” above.
Originally released as a CD in 2012 and produced by the late Hal Willner, the vinyl release was remastered by Kramer with music composed by Bill Frisell. The upcoming release is dedicated to Willner, who died in 2020.
“I remember the day I met Hal Willner in 1979,” Kramer tells Rolling Stone. “It was love at first sight. We remained friends, like brothers, until the day he died, when a big part of me died with him. I wasn’t far away when he was making this amazing project come to life in 2011. He played the final mixes for me in his little listening room in NYC, surrounded by his puppets, his records (well, some of them, anyway), and the swirling surgical wit and spirit of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. ‘So whaddaya think?’ Hal asked. ‘Is HST spinning in his grave right now? Did I do something good here, or is he gonna go gonzo on me in my dreams, forever?’ You done good, Hal. You done real good. Rest in Peace.”
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of this project — who could say no to such an opportunity to toast the king of Gonzo journalism?” Robbins added. “It’s been a great pleasure diving into the chaotic, genius prose of Hunter and I feel flattered to be working with such a stellar group of creative folks like Hal Willner, Ralph Steadman, Bill Frisell and Michael Minzer who made it come alive so brilliantly.”
The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent & Depraved Track List
1. Overture (My Old Kentucky Home)2. I Got Off The Plane Around Midnight… 3. At The Airport Newsstand 4. The Next Day Was Heavy… 5. The Governor, A Swinish Neo-Nazi Hack… 6. Entr’acte 7. On Our Way Back To The Motel 8. It Was Saturday Morning, The Day Of The Big Race… 9. In A Box Not Far From Ours… 10. Some Time Around 10:30 Monday Morning…