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Songs About F*****g

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Album Review

Ever notice how rock bands tend to keep things interesting for themselves by pointlessly dragging out their songs and introducing awkward conceptual threads? Also, how many bands veil their subject matter in euphemisms to avoid being taken literally, to stay safe, or — better yet — to be "mysterious?" Big Black's final LP does the diametric opposite of both. Not only do the 14 songs here whip by with only one exceeding the three-minute mark, but each one is incisive enough to render a razor as effective as a butter knife. In sum: yowl, ching, thump-thump-screech. And, how could a title be more direct? The only band that had courage enough to be this direct was Spinal Tap, and that was for a song, not an album title. Songs About F*****g brought about a definite sharpening of the band's sound. Steve Albini's mangled screaming is at its most bileful, his and Santiago Durango's guitars don't meander, and the rhythm section of Dave Riley and Roland is more taut than at any point prior. Ugly characters line up in the songs like early arrivals at a monster truck rally. Most significantly, there's the murderer in "Fish Fry"; who else but Steve Albini could paint the picture of a man hosing out his truck after chucking a dead body from it into a nearby pond? The band left with more of a kling klang than a bang, bowing out with a reverent cover of Kraftwerk's "The Model." [The CD version adds the B-side of "The Model," a swell cover of Cheap Trick's "He's a Whore."]


Formed: 1982 in Evanston, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s

While punk rock was always supposed to be about pushing the envelope, few post-punk bands seemed willing to go quite so far to creatively confront their audience as Big Black. The group's guitars alternately sliced like a machete and ground like a dentist's drill, creating a groundbreaking and monolithic dissonance in the process. Their use of a drum machine, cranked up to ten and sounding a tattoo that pummeled the audience into submission, was a crucial precursor to the coming industrial music...
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