Archive for April, 2012



Big Black

Durango, Albini and Riley

Big Black – my all time favourite band, it’s been 25 years since they split (and a reunion set in 2006 for the Touch ‘n Go label),but still nothing tickles my amygdala like Songs About Fucking played filling rattlingly loud. Everything meshes together to produce the most poundingly perfect racket. Santiago Durango’s and Steve Albini’s guitar sound is unlike anything since, Albini apparently used notched guitar picks to produce a tone not unlike a cat on helium coughing up a furball. Dave Riley’s bass has a real nice chunky low end and Roland kicks Doctor Avalanche squarely in the nuts. Kerosene (on the album Atomizer) is another highpoint, the main riff is the sound of plate glass smashing and gargling sulphuric acid. Pounding, brutal and very insistent…there is a youtube video in the archives of St Vincent doing a good fist of covering Kerosene, certainly better than Pitchshifter’s rather pedestrian effort.

I’ve watched the clips on Youtube of their 2006 reunion and have only recently realised that Dave Riley was missing on bass duties. A quick scurry over to wikipedia informed me he had suffered a debilitating stoke in 1993. Just how debilitating? I’d recommend you check his blog It doesn’t pull any punches in it’s depiction of institutionalized indifference and society’s reaction to impairment and difference.

Unfortunately Big Black split up just as I was discovering them so I never got to se them live. The closest I got was my VHS copy of Pigpile, a video of their last UK shows. My VCR was consigned to the gadget graveyard so I now have a handy Big Black branded paperweight. Thank god for Youtube!!!! Here’s a link to their last gig, I’d fast forward the guy doing performance poetry and get stuck straight in to Fists of Love. Enjoy

Big Black