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April 27, 2010 | by  | in Arts Music Online Only |
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Out of Sync: Big Black – Songs About Fucking

Where Salient takes a look at an album that was out of sync with the prevailing musical zeitgeist at the time of its release, but has managed to gain new lustre with the benefit of retrospect.

1987: Big Black – Songs About Fucking (Touch & Go)

“I think I fucked your girlfriend once / Maybe twice, I don’t remember / Then I fucked all your friends’ girlfriends / Now they hate you.”

But you didn’t really fuck her, did you Steve? Not once, not twice, not ever. And the reason you don’t really remember it very well is because IT NEVER HAPPENED.

How can I be so sure?

Because I’ve seen this.

In a weird way though, that desperately dorky-looking bum-bag encapsulates everything that was great about Big Black. Speaking bluntly, Albini and his pals were a bunch of loser no-hope nerds who were jaded about everything that was happening in music during the early-mid ‘80s. Or at least everything that was in any way unethical, pretentious, or which didn’t sound like the aural equivalent of being brutally savaged by a rabies-infected pit bull.

And just like that bum-bag, no aspect of their music was appealing (at least not in the conventional sense) because they were, in short, noise masochists, whose cheap guitars produced the same effect as biting on tinfoil: short stabbing blasts of pain. The subject matter of their songs was equally distasteful. Take ‘Colombian Necktie’, whose title literally references the practice of slashing your victim’s throat and pulling their tongue out through the gash. Its isolated opening chord sounds equally horrific. But for all their sonic and lyrical obscenity, the members of Big Black weren’t even remotely badass in any way, shape or form. They weren’t killers, rapists or thugs, just angry dudes with bad physiques who were compelled to do something a little different from their contemporaries.

And yet, you just can’t help but get a huge kick out of listening to these pathetic dorks rage about how “Sometimes you know you want to fuck somebody up / Sometimes you just want to fuck.” I guess it’s because playing the sadist can sometimes be pretty fun. With Songs About Fucking Big Black showed us why, with each song functioning as a cathartic expression of fantasy, an empowering means of escapism from both their, and our, otherwise banal forms of existence.

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Comments (8)

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  1. smackdown says:

    lmao they seem like one of those bands that make you think “oh dear. oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.”

    good review kim smackdown is your friend

  2. Negaton says:

    I both endorse and reject this review.

  3. steve says:

    albini is not a pathetic dork he is a legend. fuck you ‘bad physiques’.

  4. matthew says:

    those are guitar straps around their waists. and yeah he’s hardly pathetic. how do you get that? he’s, like, one of the most influential musicians and producers of his generation. dude rules! i’d fuck him.

  5. Kim Wheatley says:

    I’d have hoped that the opening couple sentences of this review would have suggested that my tone wasn’t intended to be entirely serious :P We’re allowed to poke a bit of fun at our heroes! I love the fact that despite looking like the king of the nerds Albini made some of the most crushing music of all time ever etc.

    Also, for all Albini’s angst I think there’s actually quite a bit of humor (sick though it may be) in his music as well, I mean, you don’t think he was actually being serious when he called one of his bands ‘Rapeman’ do you?

  6. matthew says:

    have you read ‘our band could be your life’? really good chapter on big black. you needa acknowledge that that ain’t no bumbag though!!

  7. Kim Wheatley says:

    Hmmm, yeah they are straps. Shame it isn’t a bum-bag though, it’d be weirdly appropriate.

  8. steve says:

    he doesn’t look like the king of nerds stop giving him body image issues

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