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A Rollins In the Wry

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Album Review

You'd never peg Henry Rollins, former frontman for Black Flag, an '80s thrash metal band that enjoyed cult-like success, for a liberal, politically correct kind of guy. The muscle-bound, militant-looking Rollins, who later enjoyed a diverse career as an actor, author, and television host of Night Visions (Fox Network), has seen more success as a non-musician. A Rollins in the Wry reveals another side of the artist — spoken-word performer. The contents of this entertaining CD were taken from two shows recorded in the spring of 1999 at Los Angeles' Café Luna. On tap: 13 tracks of Rollins' musings on society, politics, pop culture, and his career. By far, one of the funniest skits is "Clintonese." "They should teach Clinton in college," says Rollins of his admiration of the former president's savvy verbal performance during 1999's impeachment trial. "Red light, green light, yes or no?...and he's like 'What?'" Another winning moment comes by way of "Language," where Rollins reads a letter that he received from a fan named Boris from the Czech Republic. He extracts one part of the letter, which he describes as, "One of the greatest sentences I have ever read in my life." Boris writes: "On two concert I'm should of collected photo, but small, fat technologist be insane." Rollins' interpretation: "He took his roll of film to Rite Aid and had a bad experience. I think Boris got his film f*cked up by the technologist." In fact, Rollins seems to have a fixation with Rite Aid. The store even gets its own self-titled treatment. This is an engaging listening experience. Rollins' commentary leaves no stone unturned — gender idiosyncrasies, homosexuality, the media, the tragedy at Columbine (where he takes a serious turn), and other topics. His vocal delivery is dynamic; listeners could easily envision his facial expressions and contortions as if they were sitting at Café Luna. And Rollins has no problem pointing the finger at himself — a sure-fire way at gaining trust and a connection with audiences. He is honest, without offending, and gives the impression that he genuinely has no biases — he's just a curious observer of life. And the world, through Rollins' eyes, is an interesting, offbeat, and funny place.


Born: 13 February 1961 in Washington D.C.

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

In the '90s, Henry Rollins emerged as a post-punk renaissance man, without the self-conscious trappings that plagued such '80s artists as David Byrne. Following Black Flag's breakup in 1986, Rollins was been relentlessly busy, recording albums with the Rollins Band, writing books and poetry, performing spoken word tours, writing a magazine column in Details, acting in several movies, and appearing on radio programs and, less frequently, as an MTV VJ. The Rollins Band's records are uncompromising,...
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A Rollins In the Wry, Henry Rollins
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