That record was also one of the first links deleted by the hosting service - apparently Touch and Go didn't take too kindly to me linking it. So I'll do it again.
Harsh, brutal, in-your-face, piledriving machinery. From Chicago's finest forges, Big Black at their best doing what they do. It was the best record and their pre-announced swan song. They toured out the record and then went off their own separate ways, Steve Albini into production, Rapeman and global mouthpiece; Santiago Durango into his Arsenal project and then a well-respected entertainment lawyer; Dave Riley to wherever punk bass players (with a bit of funk) go to rest.
So this time, if it sticks, enjoy. One of my all-time favorite records, and still a very difficult listen.
From the opening blog post:
Steve Albini, in the liner notes to this album, stated:
Every good Vegas act has an opening theme, some appropriately triumphant fanfare to welcome the delight of the audience. It helps convince them the show was worth their thirty bucks or so.Translated: Every blog needs an opening post, something to convince the teeming hordes that their mouse-clicking was worth the effort and to feed the expectations of terrific material to come. Though had Albini written those words today, I don't think he'd be stating thirty bucks or so. Try hundreds...
I discovered this record in high school in 1987 or 1988, about a year or two after their scheduled 1987 breakup. Founder/guitarist/singer/songwriter Steve Albini says they broke up at the right time, they were getting to the point where their popularity was exceeding the amount of energy and effort it would have required to maintain it. Guitarist Santiago Durango also was about to start law school so all things just fell in line to call it a day after this record - an ending which the band pre-announced. There's another school that states this record took Big Black about as far as they could within their framework, and some think it didn't better their previous LP Atomizer - it wasn't a progression, it was just a continuation of the themes and attitudes brought forward with terrific impact by Atomizer.
This LP still sounds as jarring and "ugly" as it did twenty years ago. Not many bands can you say that about today - what seemed earth-shaking then might be commonplace today. I figured it was an excellent way to lead off the blog - and the first song having bequeathed its title to the blog, why the hell not?
Songs about Fucking
Albini's song-by-song blurbs from the liners, after each track name....
01 The Power Of Independent Trucking
Oh, you think that was a nice piece there, eh? I'll tell you something. I got an exit book here, shows the best steak on any mile of interstate in the whole pig-friggin' country. Shows every decent motel and a few indecent ones. Shows where to get a new axle at four in the morning. Fucking bible. Well, I got another little book I wrote up myself. Sort of an exit and entrance book, if you get me. Shows me where every piece of ass I ever picked up is. I can get laid inside ten minutes just about anywhere in the fucking world. It's all in the book. This one chick though, I'll never forget it. Moved her ass like a blender. Bitch simply could NOT get enough. Buck and scream like a wild animal. Every time I go through Jersey I stop in for a taste. The one thing I can't stand is when they get emotional about it. Want you to call 'em and write 'em. When I'm gone, I'm gone. I'll take 'em with me for a while, we ride, then fuck, then ride. I've burned out three mattresses in the cab-over up there. That one, though. She was wild.
02 The Model
Boy, don't we all look SMASHING in red.
03 Bad Penny
What's really IMPRESSIVE is that some of these guys last so long, you'd think more of them would get killed, since all they do is burn their bridges.
Daisy went to sleep at 15 and woke up many years later. She, being perfectly sensible, decided she ought to die, since she had literally slept away her entire productive life. The medical profession had, in her absence, decided that all life must be preserved, regardless of worth to its owner, and prevented her from performing the only NOBLE act she was capable of.
05 Precious Thing
In general, someone is a thing of value if and only if he or she is willing to SUBMIT to whatever degradation and abuse is required to preserve that position. Anything less betrays a lack of commitment.
06 Colombian Necktie
The necktie, a particularly HUMILIATING way to die, involves having your throat slit from ear to ear, so your tongue can flop out on your neck.
07 Kitty Empire
Ever since that fellow there moved in, there's been some mighty strange goings on over there. He's up until all hours, he's got that crazy music, noisy all the time. There's some sort of CAT ARMY there, too. They live under that porch. Someone saw him out there jaybird naked one time hopping like an Indian out in the weeds. The smell is just ferocious sometimes. Like he does his own number twos out there in the yard. I SWEAR.
Psychedelic fungus infestation of European grain, not divine inspiration, as responsible for many of the "visions" so lovingly portrayed in the Christian paintings of antiquity. How many people were pressed under stones or drowned or burned for Satanism while those of faith were quietly tripping their brains out on BAD BREAD?
09 Kasimir S. Pulaski Day
The Mafia still knows how to throw a good killing when it needs to. The more COLORFUL ones get the most attention. A bomb, for instance, doesn't need to be in the victim's car. It can be in a stalled vehicle on the roadway, waiting to go bang until the victim happens to be driving by. Other people may be driving by as well. Life's rough.
10 Fish Fry
It went like this, near as anybody can tell. He went to her family's fish fry, took her to the drive-in, porked her, then beat her to death with his BOOT. It is speculated that he was upset about the ease with which he got into her pants, when she had resisted his brother's attempts earlier. He threw her body into Frenchtown pond, if memory serves, and went home. When the police found him the following afternoon, he was nonchalantly scrubbing out the cab of his truck with the aid of a garden hose.
11 Pavement Saw
The things people do when they have nothing to do can be pretty silly. Those same people can become all-important in each others lives. The things they do increase in importance in proportion. Soon a lot of people who do nothing individually scrutinize the miniscule doings of the others. This, in short, is "FALLING in love."
12 Tiny, King Of The Jews
Sometimes, even killing yourself wouldn't be enough. Like when you realize that your entire life has been lived under a PRESUMPTION of free will, but all you've been able to make of it is a sad parody of everything you used to hate. Slowly, without trying, everyone becomes what he despises most.
13 Bombastic Intro
Every good Vegas act has an opening theme, some appropriately triumphant fanfare to welcome the delight of the audience. It helps convince them the show was worth their thirty bucks or so.
14 He's A Whore
Hey, breaking up is an idea that has occurred to far too few groups, sometimes to the wrong ones.The future belongs to the analog loyalists. Fuck digital.
T'anks fer da laffs: Corey, Lisa, Justin, Paul, Pat, Nate, the pals we made, the pals we didn't, Jochen, Carlos, Byron, Jimmy, bands who don't write love songs. Joel, get your shit together.
If you're ever in Chicago, don't stop in, it's a small place we've got.
David Michael Riley: Bass (David uses and endorses Alembic basses and Trace-Elliot amplifiers)
Melvin Belli: Guitar grrr (Melvin follows and endorses the Fibrelife meatloaf diet plan)
Steve Albini: Guitar skinng (Steve uses and endorses heroin)
edit: Removed link.