Thursday, 20 June 2013

Rollins Band - Weight (1994)

I'm reluctant to identify Henry Rollins' spoken word as comedy, simply because the term has such unfortunate associations with the drooling crap of Russell Brand, Jimmy Carr, and the like, but much of it is nevertheless very, very funny, particularly those pot shots taken with himself as target. One of my favourite Rollins monologues proposes experimentation with the mental images summoned during masturbation for the purposes of erotic stimulation. Distrustful of his own bullshit, the absurdity of predictable fantasies involving nude women in unlikely scenarios, he describes the visualisation of a naked and muscular man covered in tattoos, alone in a bathroom jerking off before a mirror; and as he approaches the Billy Miller roundabout, he opens his eyes and woah - well, how about that!

Rollins' great strength is an absolute intolerance of bullshit in any form, including his own, and his music and lyrics reflect this; even the name, because it is a band and he's the front man. This is raw, honest, painful music, not some guy pulling faces and trying to convince you he's really a human-killing cyborg from the year 3000, or pretending it's still 1966, or who seriously expects you to believe his lyrics were dictated from beyond the grave by Aleister Crowley. Rollins sings about emotional truth with absolute directness, cutting straight to the core of his subject. I don't always agree with everything he says, but Lord - it's refreshing to hear stories of this kind forced to give account of themselves without the usual laboured metaphors or affected poetry which never sounds quite so poetic as the author imagines it to be. As ever, Rollins gets the job done like he's stripping down an assault rifle, efficient, ruthlessly honest, and free of fatty tissue. The music too is a perfect match, tight, grinding blues rock so heavy you could use it to dig out tree stumps. Some might perceive a lack of finesse in this seemingly workmanlike approach, but it's simply a misunderstanding: there are few artists quite this unburdened with bullshit, and some people find this misleading.

Weight is possibly one of the most powerful rock albums ever recorded, and it's so busy just doing its job blowing your speakers and kicking your arse, it doesn't even seem to realise how good it sounds.

No comments:

Post a comment