Henry Rollins - Provoked {Quintessentially American Opinionated Editorializing & Storytelling} (Cover Artwork)
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Henry Rollins

Provoked {Quintessentially American Opinionated Editorializing & Storytelling} (2008)


Henry Rollins is a man who rarely, if ever, takes a break. He lives for what he does and has no problem having little to no life outside of his work. This passion shows up in everything he does, from the music, to the books, to the spoken word. His 100% dedication to the work is apparent in every form of artistic expression he spearheads, and his latest spoken word release is no exception. With its suitably exhausting title, Provoked {Quintessentially American Opinionated Editorializing & Storytelling} is a seamless combination of stories taken from live shows in San Francisco on 11/06/07 and Amsterdam on 1/23/08.

Having seen this tour's stop on 11/10/07 in Santa Barbara, I was already familiar with all of these stories before picking up this release, but kudos to Rollins for making it sound fresh and hilarious every time. Henry discusses a wide variety of subjects at these shows, ranging from the stupidity of abstinence-only sex ed on "Sex Ed," homophobia on "Horses" and American obesity on "Van Halen" and "Invasion Force." He manages to get a good potshot at Bush on "Mandelaism," while admitting that he is burned out on talking about him and that, at this point, it's like flogging a dead horse.

My favorite tracks here are "Nature's Wild" and "Adrian," two wonderfully misanthropic, intelligent and absolutely hilarious takes on nature getting back at man. As Henry puts it, "If we're not gonna respect nature, we might as well fear it," he jokingly suggests that dangerous predators be dropped in random places around the U.S. to keep people on their twos and to make life more interesting. His description of a polar bear tearing man from his SUV is priceless, as his description of the aforementioned "Adrian" -- a man who got naked, took some crack and was attacked by an alligator. This sort of giddy enthusiasm and intelligent misanthropy remind me of some of George Carlin's best rants.

As a person who owns and has listened to every official Rollins spoken word release available, I can honestly say that the material here is definitely some of his best. My only problem with this release is its length; it is only 11 tracks long and two of those are very short. This is a limited release, available only at Best Buy and on the 2.13.61 website until it is sold out. For added bang for your buck, it is bundled with a never-before-commercially-available DVD of Henry Rollins' 1999 Comedy Central special "Live & Ripped from London." A must-have for all Rollins fans, George Carlin fans or for fans of comedy/storytelling in general.