Big Black


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The Albini/Durango/Pezzatti axis remains for Racer-X, and the quality arc continues skyward. Big Black's first completely solid release ups the fiery aggression, attacking the ears like a Pamplona bull. The roaring title track's thudding bass/drum combo makes for one of the group's funkiest outings, with a late shift into overdrive. It has to be one of the finest odes to a cartoon/comic character recorded by a rock band, a fitting tribute to Speed Racer's sib. The mob-focused "Shotgun" is typically violent, with the human members allowing enough space for Roland to flex his skittering and thumping muscles. "The Ugly American," like Naked Raygun's later "Only in America," features sax skronks atop blazing guitar clatter and vocal barking. More lyrical bluntness is offered as "Sleep!" contemplates death: "My head on the ground, with a mouth full of dirt/Your foot in my face is what keeps me alive." A loose-limbed take on James Brown's "The Big Payback" hardly resembles the original, but Albini defends himself in the liners, arguing that the man was improvising as well. Not the band's best moment, this track resembles the Red Hot Chili Peppers in a rather unflattering manner; it's puzzling to consider that Big Black's later cover of the Mary Jane Girls' "In My House" was more effective. Despite this, Racer-X was a true sign that something greater and wickedly twisted was on the horizon. [Racer-X was later issued on the Touch & Go version of The Hammer Party CD. It was also reissued in its own vinyl version.]

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