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Big Black - Songs About Fucking (Cover Artwork)

Big Black

Big Black: Songs About FuckingSongs About Fucking (1987)
Touch and Go Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: ngs091ngs091
(others by this writer | submit your own)

If you were to tell me that all music is meant to strictly be fun, enjoyable and pleasurable, you and I would possibly have a physical altercation. Then again, I am a pretty skinny hippy, so I guess a yelling match would do; but really, the point of saying this is that music is not always meant to b.
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If you were to tell me that all music is meant to strictly be fun, enjoyable and pleasurable, you and I would possibly have a physical altercation. Then again, I am a pretty skinny hippy, so I guess a yelling match would do; but really, the point of saying this is that music is not always meant to be relaxing and letting your mind forget about your life's troubles -- rather, some music gives you a heap of problems. It's music like the band Big Black and their album, Songs About Fucking, which should come with a bag of sleeping pills, a razorblade and instructions that let you remember true depression is released along the river of the arms, not across the woods of the wrist; some music is simply an experience.

Big Black unleash a horde of grinding noise through your speakers, like a falling avalanche, thus making more noise as guitars and bass sound as indistinguishable as a train being derailed. Honestly, I am not sure if anyone can possibly enjoy this music, but they can certainly respect it. It's this sense of ear-shattering dynamics to the tune of pounding, trash can-like drums that often is abstract enough that it sometimes borders on indulgence. Yet at the same time, it can also be subversive brilliance. Now, isn't that the point of art? That is, to create subversion in the listener? After all, this brings about a new way of both thinking and viewing the world. And that is true musical art -- something that is done in a manner that transcends...breaks barriers. In other words, it is something that doesn't sound like the traditional generic sounds on mainstream radio and MTV.

Granted, Songs About Fucking is in no way a perfect album; when you can't make out even a parcel of the social-political lyrics, you are merely left with noise ("Kashmir S. Pulaski Day," "Pavement Saw"), especially when the vocals also lack that slightly hooky pitch (such as on "Ergot"). Yet, songs like "The Model" and "Bad Penny" are stellar examples of music as commentary. "The Model" (a cover of the song by German progressive rockers, Kraftwerk) is an obvious statement of people's obsession of body image in other people. While this song is also driven by distorted vocals, that actually gives it a slightly catchy quality. "Bad Penny" is about someone's desires and instincts controlling their mind; "I know what a liar I am" the song sings, telling the listener that sometimes our desires take precedent in our mind in this dog-eat-dog society that fucks us up.

"He's a Whore" is probably the most accessible song here, and the rest of the songs (aside from the short instrumental, "Bombastic Intro") are good examples of noise-rock as arty ruckus.

Songs About Fucking might not always be the best example of noise-as-an-art form that has been done both before its time and since, but it is one of the most uncompromising.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
bthompson93 (January 15, 2013)

This is what music should sound like.

DrGunn (December 25, 2008)

"Great record.....not as good as, say, other "industrial" experimental post-punk bands like Swans or Godflesh, but definitely awesome. I'm not too sure about Albini's much more publicized career as a producer though, sometimes his production is right on (In Utero, Surfer Rosa) and other times it just ruins records (Weirdness.) Sort of reminds me of Spot from the Black Flag days...sometimes his production hit the mark perfectly for the sound, and other times it just sucked the life away from otherwise great songs."

i'll take big black over godflesh any day. swans, however, are from another world and i can scarcely compare them to anyone.

russe11 (December 24, 2008)

Brandon, you really think Albini's production ruined The Weirdness? I thought it was the only redeeming aspect of that album. The drums sounded especially awesome. Seriously though fuck that album.

Galloping-Foxley (December 24, 2008)

Score is for both the record and for legendary BrandonSideleau (fellow BR hardcore fan and former Punknews staff member) having registered on TheBRPage. Hooray for him!

SlackMFr (December 24, 2008)

This album title & cover are classic, I've never hear the album though.

scientistrock (December 24, 2008)

He's a whore is a Cheap Trick cover.

BrandonSideleau (December 23, 2008)

Great record.....not as good as, say, other "industrial" experimental post-punk bands like Swans or Godflesh, but definitely awesome. I'm not too sure about Albini's much more publicized career as a producer though, sometimes his production is right on (In Utero, Surfer Rosa) and other times it just ruins records (Weirdness.) Sort of reminds me of Spot from the Black Flag days...sometimes his production hit the mark perfectly for the sound, and other times it just sucked the life away from otherwise great songs.

scientistrock (December 23, 2008)

I wanted to write this review!

aorta (December 23, 2008)

Take out that first paragraph and this would be a decent review. No really, take it out, it makes you sound kind of douche-ish. Just talk about the record, not try to say some poetic bullshit about blood and ear canals or whatever it was you were saying.

ngs091 (December 22, 2008)

"Score is for that ngs091 kid throwing a hissy fit."

Lol, I'm not throwing a hissy fit. I hope it does not seem like that? I may sound slightly defensive in the below post, but I am doing it in a constructive manner, or so I believe I am.

If not I apologize?

Sincerely,

Nick Schwab

MyStereoHasMono (December 22, 2008)

Score is for that ngs091 kid throwing a hissy fit.

NewKid (December 22, 2008)

That first paragraph was pretty awesome. Score is for that.

-Eric

Xote (December 22, 2008)

The drum machine is totally industrial. It's like Godflesh in a way.. super heavy but really punk.

ngs091 (December 21, 2008)

I forgot to also point out below, as I might not have made it clear in the below post.

Yes, I did make a minor oversight in the lyrics to Bad Penny, but this does not change what I pointed out about the song-- it is in fact about desires controlling the mind. Now, it may be about a relationship too, but that's not the heart of the subject, that's just the crust.

Again, sorry for the lyric oversight, though.

ngs091 (December 21, 2008)

Alright, first the “drum machine” was not mentioned, because frankly I don’t give a shit-- it’s all about what it sounds like.

Second, an album is not at-all about what it has influenced, it may be a good side-note, but it never makes an album successful or not by it simply being first. An album may be seminal yes, but if it sucks it simply sucks. Big Black is good, but like I stated, this formula in my opinion has been done better both before its release and since.

And 3rd, here’s the lyrics for Bad Penny, and you should know that art (including art reviews) are always subjective. I just think differently than you….

OUght to know what I liar I am
Ought to know me by now
Don't curse me for my nature
Don't blast me for my wrongs
Just a bad penny
I always come back to you
Just a bad penny

Just a bad penny
I always come back to you
Should have known you couldn't trust me
As far as you could throw me
You couldn't throw me to far
Just a bad penny
Couldn't throw me to far

I think I fucked your girlfriend once.
Maybe twice, I don't remember
Then I fucked all your friend's girlfriends
Now they hate you

Just a bad penny
Such a bad penny
A bad bad penny

OUght to know what I liar I am
Ought to know me by now
Such a bad penny
A bad bad penny
OUght to know what I liar I am
Ought to know me by now
Ought to know you couldn't trust me
As far as you could throw me
Such a bad penny
Slap my hand

Tudor (December 21, 2008)

Really awsome album. Love it.

Review could use some work...

IllaZilla (December 21, 2008)

"They used a drum machine nicknamed Beat-Beat."

"And by "Beat-Beat", you mean "Roland"."

Yes, that's what I meant. For some reason I got it mixed up with one of the band ideas from King Dork. But yes, Roland. Anyway, I think it would've been worth mentioning the drum machine aspect in the review, since the reviewer makes a point of commenting on the sound of the drums.

ChadReligion (December 21, 2008)

Great Band and awesome record and from an amazing era of badass bands like this... I still have this album on cassette.

misterspike (December 21, 2008)

They used a drum machine nicknamed Beat-Beat.

And by "Beat-Beat", you mean "Roland".

SilentStorms (December 20, 2008)

I've heard the name but never heard the band. I'm checking them out right now, but that was a great review! Score is for the review.

mattramone (December 20, 2008)

Not as good as Atomizer, but still flawless.

IllaZilla (December 20, 2008)

First of all, it's rather ludicrous to review an album 20 years after the fact, particularly without discussing any of its historical context & cultural impact. Second, here are some nitpicks (or at least things that should have been mentioned but weren't):

"pounding, trash can-like drums"
-That is because Big Black did not have a drums nor a drummer. They used a drum machine nicknamed Beat-Beat.

"“Bad Penny” is about someone’s desires and instincts controlling their mind; “I know what a liar I am” the song sings, telling the listener that sometimes our desires take precedent in our mind in this dog-eat-dog society that fucks us up."
-Actually the lyric is "Ought to know what a liar I am/Ought to know me by now", not "I know what a liar I am". Therefore it's not about desires taking precedent, it's the singer railing againt someone who's upset at him for something he did, saying "you should've known you couldn't trust me/as far as you can throw me" and "I'm just a bad penny/I always come back to you" (the "something" is hinted at in the bridge: "I think I fucked your girlfriend once/maybe twice, I dont' remember"). Sorry, it just happens to be my favorite song on the album and the misheard lyric makes the interpretation completely off.

"“He’s a Whore” is probably the most accessible song here"
-That's because it's a Cheap Trick cover.

misterspike (December 20, 2008)

It's got industrial aspects, if not just from the programmed drums that sound like machinery.

NIN? Ministry? RevCo? You're Welcome.

Laurier (December 20, 2008)

ONLY FOUR STARS?!?

but seriously a great record.

bongsmcj (December 20, 2008)

i'm just glad its not the one from the 'rob & big' show

Xote (December 20, 2008)

"Honestly, I am not sure if anyone can possibly enjoy this music"

The Noise-Rock as genre wouldnt be your cup of your tea.

Xote (December 20, 2008)

One of the best Noise-Rock-Punk as Fuck albums ever!!!!

cheezitzzzzz (December 20, 2008)

"Honestly, I am not sure if anyone can possibly enjoy this music"

This doesn't make me want to buy the CD.

elliot (December 20, 2008)

It's got industrial aspects, if not just from the programmed drums that sound like machinery.

Really bummed that I didn't review this.

elliot (December 20, 2008)

It's got industrial aspects, if not just from the programmed drums that sound like machinery.

Really bummed that I didn't review this.

waitingroom (December 20, 2008)

Thank you for reviewing this.

weegmc (December 20, 2008)

Great album. Should be noted "he's a whore" is a cover.

misterspike (December 20, 2008)

Probably my favorite Big Black release ever. Songs About Fucking still sounds dangerous, even 20 years later.

billnye (December 20, 2008)

how have you not heard of it, though or any of the band's it's influenced, etc.

ngs091 (December 19, 2008)

Noise rock, of course.

I hope that helps, i'll try to be more informative in my reviews in the future.

Sorry,

Nick Schwab

clamum (December 19, 2008)

After reading the review I still have no clue what this band sounds like.

punk_sk (December 19, 2008)

i fucking love the cover art

Misanthropee (December 19, 2008)

Fucking yes.

freesandwich (December 19, 2008)

Amazing album

the_other_scott (December 19, 2008)

agreed. i would've assumed this was reviews already. great record. not super-duper amazingly great record. but a great one.

DrGunn (December 19, 2008)

you can enjoy this music. i enjoy the hell out of it. probably inches out atomizer as my favorite big black album.

though to be honest, i think it's a stretch to read any deep meaning into big black lyrics. this was, i believe, never the intention of their art (and i recall steve once saying that lyrics for him were much less important than music).

Torgo (December 19, 2008)

How was this not reviewed already? Score if for Side 1. Side 2 is very good too but Side 1 is one of the best Side 1's of our time.

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