Big Black

TrackAlbum
Jordan, MinnesotaAtomizer
Passing ComplexionAtomizer
KerosenePigpile
Fists Of LovePigpile
CablesAtomizer
Fish FrySongs About Fucking
Kitty EmpireSongs About Fucking
Bad PennySongs About Fucking
HeartbeatThe Rich Man'’s Eight Track Tape
Precious ThingSongs About Fucking

 

Contributor: Rick J Leach

There are very few artists i.e. none of them, who don’t live with a certain level of compromise and who don’t, for the want of a better phrase, piss about. There’s always some sort of deal to be done with record companies, agents, managers, promoters etc – the whole paraphernalia. All artists, it doesn’t matter who they are, pay lip-service to being outside of the system and still nurture the antiquated ‘artist-as-outsider’ bollocks. Maybe as music fans, we know and understand this level of nonsense, and therefore, are partly complicit with it.

The only exception to this was Big Black. Big Black didn’t mess around at all. Big Black never had a record contract with any label; they owned their own music and never took an advance. They paid for their own recordings and released their own records. They had a unique deal with Homestead Records of Chicago; rather than the label owning the recordings, they were simply licensed to release Big Black records for a limited period of time.

Big Black had no manager, booking agent, producer, road crew etc. There were just the three members of the band and a drum machine. As they didn’t have anyone else but themselves to consider, all the decisions they made directly affected only them – and all the money they either made or lost was their own money. Because they had no drummer, they didn’t need a van to transport all their equipment from gig to gig. They just sorted the venue out themselves. Set up their gear and played. Very loud. Very, very loud.

And as Steve Albini, founder of Big Black stated, this process spoke for itself. Nobody told Big Black what to do and nobody took any of their money. They were free to say what they liked.

They did say what they liked as well. Nothing was off topic for Big Black. Intensely confrontational lyrics dealing with such uncomfortable issues as racism, homophobia, sadism, alcoholism, child abuse scandals, sociopathic behaviour, corrupt police officers and more, both baited and satirised a white liberal audience. Combining this with aggressive and abrasive music resulted in the finest, hardest, highest principled, loudest and most exciting music I’ve ever heard.

Big Black decided to split up before they recorded their last album as they were becoming more and more successful, reaching a larger audience and selling more records. They welcomed the idea of being a lame duck band on their last lives dates and recording the final album. They didn’t need to be concerned with the band’s future.

But we all can be.

Get hold of either of their studio albums, Atomizer or Songs About Fucking. Or get the live albums, Sound Of Impact or Pigpile. You could even get the compilation, The Rich Man’s Eight Track Tape. Any ten tracks, picked at random from these, will give you an idea of what Big Black were all about.

You won’t be disappointed-although it may make you think that all the other music you have ever heard is the sound of pissing in the wind.
 

Big Black/Touch & Go Records

Big Black biography (iTunes)

The above listing is in Rick’s suggested best playlist order – you won’t find Big Black, Rapeman or Shellac on spotify although you could put together a helluva list of Steve Albini’s work as recording engineer. Find out more about Rick’s new book, Left Again At The Womble: The Adventures of a Middle-Aged Dad working at the Glastonbury Festival at his blog.

TopperPost #194

2 Comments

  1. David Lewis
    Feb 11, 2014

    Great Band. Great list.

    • Rick Leach
      Feb 12, 2014

      Cheers! Glad you liked it.

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