Monday, 21 March 2016

No. 33 Big Black - Heartbeat

More Big Black loveliness. Heartbeat is a Wire cover, the original is itself a cracking tune, as this live version from 1979 demonstrates. Albini is a long-time fan of Wire; they played at the ATP he curated some years ago, though the sleeve notes suggest that he may not have been too impressed by Colin Newman at this point. The Big Black version does a pretty decent version of capturing the angsty quiet-loud dynamics of the original song though.

On the reverse are two tracks. The first is Things To Do Today is based on a piece of evidence from the 'Billionaire Boys Club' murders, whilst the short instrumental I Can't Believe rounds off the single. This originally had lyrics but guitarist, Santiago Durango hated them, so it became an instrumental.

This was packaged as part of the 1987 Headache e.p. along with a fine four-track 12" single. Not one but two cover versions on the next seven inch post.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

No. 32 Big Black - Il Duce

Big Black were without doubt, one of the most important bands in forming my musical tastes. Their slim discography (two studio albums, a handful of singles and EPs as well as two live albums and a pair of compilations) helped shift the focus on my listening from the UK goth scene to the US noise-rock scene in the late 1980s.

My first encounter with them was via a compilation tape (how else, this was the late 1980s) that a friend of a friend made. In amongst all of the usual goth stuff that we traded in those days (I think I'd been particularly keen to get hold of some early Sisters of Mercy singles) was a handful of tracks from Atomizer, the debut album by a a band I'd never heard of, Big Black. These included Kerosene and Jordan, Minnesota. My mind was blown. Within a year, the main focus of my musical purchasing would be U.S. noise rockers like Butthole Surfers, Hüsker Dü and Sonic Youth, along with British bands influenced by their sound, such as A.C. Temple and Head of David - basically anything on Blast First.

I think this 7" was acquired some while later. It slightly pre-dates the aforementioned Atomizer and the a-side, Il Duce, claims to be a 'tribute' to Benito Mussolini, "whose life has been an inspiration to us all", according to the sleeve notes. On the b-side is a version of Big Money, that sounds pretty much the same as the version that would appear on Atomizer the following year. This was the last Big Black release to feature Jeff Pezzati, before he left to concentrate on Naked Raygun. It was also the record that split Big Black from Homestead; apparently Albini caught the label selling copies of the radio only 12" version of this single, after he'd expressly forbidden it, and subsequently moved the band to Touch & Go.