This year, he’ll solve your problems, just ask yourself, “What would Rollins do?”

Posted: June 10, 2014 by The Social Retard in Music
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I’m not going to front on you guys. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that, when I was 15, I knew everything there was to know about hardcore punk. I didn’t know shit. The first album from SST that I heard was the Minutemen’s Double Nickels on the Dime. Good start, for sure, but Black Flag was still just an insect repellant to me. The summer of 1994, Henry Rollins’s mug was everywhere. He may have been a punk rock pioneer but to me and my friends, he was the “Liar” guy.

That video and song were fucking awesome. I bought Weight on CD and the album version of “Liar” was even longer. There are other great moments too, like “Civilized” with its little funky interlude about guns. It’s a great album to just start yelling phrases that don’t necessarily go together. I still relate to “Disconnect” as people sicken me. It’s even more poignant now as technology has made the world so much smaller. “Liar” is still the crown jewel though. This would only be the beginning, though.

Henry showed up in the awesomely awful movie The Chase with Charlie Sheen and O.B. (Original Buffy) Kristy Swanson. I know this movie sucks but it entertains me to no end. If it was on now, I’d watch it. Not just for Henry, admittedly, as Swanson was way hot and Carlos Estevez had yet to go all Tiger Blood on us. I then started watching any movie that Rollins was in. Most of the time, this was a mistake but I blame Keanu Reeves for Johnny Mneumonic.

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Along the way, I kept buying Rollins Band CDs and they were decent. I bought his Black Flag stuff but, like most, I prefer the Keith Morris stuff. Henry’s finest musical moment is his collection of two solo EPs: Hot Animal Machine and Drive By Shooting (credited to Henrietta Collins & the Wifebeating Childhaters). Some really great tracks on those but none top the superior-to-the-original cover of Wire’s “Ex-Lion Tamer”. The original version is fine but Henry’s take is, obviously, more aggressive and it suits the song. I, sacrilegiously, like the vocals themselves better. I’m also pretty sure he screwed up the lyrics to the track’s benefit.

See, that’s another reason why Henry Rollins is so great. He’s chiefly important because he is the gateway to a lot of cool music. He was the first introduction to Bad Brains after he sang a cover of the MC5’s classic “Kick Out the Jams” with them. Shit, that was the first exposure to the MC5 too. He’s such an abashed fan that any band he became involved with or talked about was worth a listen.

When he had his talk show on IFC, that was the first time I had seen Slayer perform. I always felt wrong for listening to them because of all of the pentagram stuff. I had written them off in my mind even though I had mostly shed all that baggage by that point. They played “Cult” from their then-latest album Christ Illusion. In a serendipitous moment, this happened to be their best album in 12 years and, here, I was lucky to catch them at that time. I hadn’t seen anything such a powerful performance by any band on television.

With no new music from Henry, I still try to catch what he does. I’ve gotten a few of his books and have loved some of his spoken-word albums, especially Provoked. The last time I bought anything by him was a couple of years ago at the Chicagoland Record Show at the Hillside Holiday Inn, site of the Atomizer showdown with hipster douchebag. As soon as you walk in, there’s a vendor in the corner on the left who has a shit ton of 90’s vinyl. The 90’s bands loved vinyl but record companies didn’t, so runs were really limited. I managed to score Weight for $12. It has a little bit of a skip in it but not during “Liar”, so no big deal. Anyone know where I can find the Drive By Shooting EP on wax?

 

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Comments
  1. I think he’s a god, so there’s nothing real new to add that you haven’t already said here.

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