Henry Rollins - Think Tank (Cover Artwork)

Henry Rollins

Think Tank (1998)


I never appreciated spoken word performers until I heard punks like Jello Biafra and Henry Rollins do it. It always bored me, some of it was funny, but whatever, I wasn't into it. It didn't challenge me, it didn't make me think about anything differently. Rollins and Biafra changed all that. "Think Tank" is the first spoken word CD I owned, and it is a treasure to me. Rollins has such an easy flow, a penchant for expressing his thoughts that few people have. He is the man.

This double disc is taken from a couple of shows, the first disc being a recording from the House of Blues in Chicago. This disc was meant to be more anecdotal, a chance for Rollins to just vent about all the annoying little things in life that piss him off. He starts off the rant-fest with a tale of airport woe, and his struggle to actually make it to Chicago in time for the show. Other stand-out bits include a diatribe against mind-numbing TV fair like "Friends" and "Baywatch", a theory about killing death-row inmates on television to scare off terrorists (somewhat prophetic in 1997, when he recorded it), and a really good case for becoming gay. He finishes the disc off with a quick lounge rendition of the Rollins Band classic "Liar".

Disc two is the better of the pair in my opinion, but you have to have patience for it. This disc was recorded in Australia in 1997, and it is devoted to more drawn-out type stories. While he does retain his sense of humor like on disc 1, he also gets serious, like on the track "Marius". Marius was an Aussie teenager stricken with leukemia, and a major fan of Rollins. Rollins silences the crowd with his recount of his meeting with Marius, and of the pain the boy was going through. He also offers up a few good tour stories, and a hilarious bit at the end about his run-in with a "rock n' roll" throat doctor.

I have found that this is one of the best discs to have along on a road trip, as I find myself getting so engaged with Rollins' stories, and no longer noticing the passage of time. The humor is biting, the wit is sharp, and his social commentary is dead on. Pick this up, and enjoy.