FDF Volume 1 Issue 18:-Big Black - The Rich Man's Eight Track Tape
Album - The Rich Man's Eight Track Tape
Artist - Big Black
Key Players - Steve Albini -vocals/guitar. Santiago Durango- guitar, David Riley bass, Roland the drum machine
Produced by - ?
Released - 1987
Overview - Considered by many to be the most influential noise rock bands of the 1980s Big Black only lasted five years. The band originally was just Steve Albini and his drum machine named Roland. Albini released an EP this way and then looked to add members to his band. Lyle Preslar of the Washington DC Hardcore band Minor Threat tried to work with Albini but that never materialized. In 1983 two members of the band Naked Raygun, Jeff Pezzati and Santiago Durango, joined on bass and guitar. They released 2 eps and Pezzati left to be replaced by Dave Riley. The band was viewed to have controversial lyrics but Albini never relented his stance. After releasing Atomizer in 1987 the band left their label unhappy with their share of the profits. They went to the Touch and Go label to release the Headache EP. The band was not overly pleased with this release and the ep had a sticker on it that read "Not as good as Atomizer, so don't get your hopes up cheese!". Durango shortly after announced he was leaving the band to attend law school. The band decided it was time to call it quits. The band never had mainstream success but they never really wanted it. Their influence on the industrial music scene is undeniable.
FDF Comments (aka the songs) - This collection was released in 1987. The cd is actually a compilation of Big Blacks Atomizer album, an ep called Headache and the single "heartbeat". The title of the album as well as the liner notes written by Albini is a diss on the whole "cd" medium. The 8 track tape at one time was considered state of the art. The liner notes basically say the only good part of cd is you can handle it with "bacon grease soaked hands" and not ruin it.
The collection starts off with the song "Jordan Minnesota". The story behind this song is that it was about a town in Minnesota that there was 26 indictments handed down by a district attorney for this group of people, which is literally about a third of the adult population of this town who were involved in this elaborate molestation ring. The chorus of the song just repeats "this will stay with you till the day you die". The song that really sums up Big Blacks sound is "Kerosene". Its has a very choppy aggressive guitar intro followed by single bass notes and that heavy industrial music pounding from Roland. When this song gets going you hear almost every heavy band that was formed after 1989 come pouring out. You get where they found "that sound". The formidable wall of sound if you will...there is just no escape.
For the most part, the music alone is the soundtrack for a speeding ticket
Where are they Now - Steve Albini has gone on to produce, a term he dislikes, bands like Nirvana, PJ Harvey, Slint, REM and the Pixies (and dozens more). Steve also had a band after Big Black that was called Rapeman whose name was taken from a twisted Japanese comic book, then formed Shellac who has released 3 cds..and keeps people like me waiting for years for what's next. He also owns and operates Electrical Audio studios in Chicago. Dave Riley had a stroke in 1993 and has since released a book and cd. Santiago Durango is the chief attorney for Touch and Go Records.
Looks like the band will do a one off show if you are in/around Chicago I'd suggest it! More details here
FDF Personal Comments - The band broke up before I even knew who they were. Their influence on a lot of what I listen to is immeasurable though. Their final live show from August 9, 1987 has been captured to tape and is widely traded
FDF Overall take - I was introduced to the band via an older cousin. He was the guy that was 6 steps ahead of everyone else music wise. 2-3 times a year I'd see him I'd always ask "what was cool". Then he just started making me tapes. He introduced me to so many bands I still listen to today. If you are a fan of heavier, noisier, non mainstream music and also are curious to see where a lot of influence has come from this is a perfect collection to start with. If you'd like to read more on the band as well as some other "lesser known American bands" check out the book Our Band Could be Your Life.