Album – The Rich Man's Eight Track
Artist – Big Black
Key Players – Santiago Durango –
guitar. Dave Riley – bass. Steve Albini – guitars and vocals.
Produced By - ?
Release Date – October 12, 1992 (on
cd) 1987 originally
Overview – Formed in Evanston
Illinois in the early 1980's “Big Black” would blend punk,
industrial and noise rock to create some of the heaviest music at the
time. Using a drum machine in lieu of a physical drummer or drum
kit. The bands heavy sound and lyrical content ranging from racism
to sexual abuse only heightened their mystique. The band also did
things on their own terms, shunning mainstream, booking their own
tours, paying for studio time. It freed the band from any trappings
and allowed them to write and record that their pleasure. Albini
liked the idea of the drum machine that would “always keep time and
never tire” and would get a distinct sound from his guitar by
playing wit a metal guitar pick. The band would only release two
full length records, and at the time of the recording of the second
album “Songs About Fucking” the band already knew they were
breaking up. They'd do a short tour and disband before the album was
This album is actually a compilation of
the “Atomizer” album, the “Headache” ep and single “Strange
– As noted its the bands
debut album “Atomizer” with some additional tracks. The first
nine tracks are “Atomizer” As advertised it starts off heavy and
never lets up. The buzzy guitars and chugging bass on "Jordan Minnesota"
matched with the heavy industrial tempo laid forth by
“Roland” it really sets the tone. Tracks like "Passing Complexion"
show the band can alter the tempo and almost place the
listener in a sonic trance. The two guitar attack from each speaker
can almost throw you off balance it is so biting. "Kerosene"
seen as the bands watermark by many and you can just hear how so many
bands since have lifted this style and presentation. The bass line
alone is worth the listen. Where “Bad Houses” may seem mellow
“Fists of Love” goes right back to the ax grind as does “Bazooka
Joe”. The “Atomizer” portion closes with a live version of
“Cables” which really does capture their clean and raw power.
“Heartbeat” still sounds like the prior tracks with its guitars
and drums, even the production feels similar which is why the album
is often seen as “one” “I Can't Believe” almost has a (dare
I say) a rock-a-billy feel to it with its guitar runs. Also the main
riff on “Grinder” can be copied by anyone, anytime..in that we
need to hear this monster hook far more.
Where are they now? - Durango went on
to law school and continued with the band “Boss Hog” during this
time. He would get his degree and one of the first cases he worked
on was helping
recover bronze casts of the genitalia of various
rock and roll artists.
Riley suffered a stroke in 1993. He
has largely recovered and he has gone on to work as a writer and
publisher. Albini formed the band Rapeman after the break up and
then Shellac which is still active. Albini also works as recording
engineer and in 1997 he opened his own studio
in Chicago. His work
is prolific and he remains humble, insisting on not taking “producer”
credits or royalties. The Pixies, Nirvana, Page and Plant, are some
of the big names, but Albini is open to requests from any band
requesting his services.
FDF Overall Take – The band was not
keen on releasing this format and have a very strong attachment to
their processes, which is to be applauded. What is on this
collection is a great snap shot of the band that could sway a new fan
to dig further. At first one might laugh at a “drum machine” but
once you hear those guitars and bass all past experiences will be
changed. Might not be for everyone,but at times its for everyone,
you just don't know it yet.
You can buy their stuff on the label site
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