I was at a friend's apartment for the first time, going through her record collection, and I stumbled upon the Dwarves' Blood, Guts and Pussy. That's the one record I've considered buying just to have the sleeve lying around (it's two naked chicks and a midget covered in gore), and I told her so. She related the story of how she acquired the album: how it came in the mail, delivered to her grandparents' address while she was away at university, and how she received a troubled phonecall concerning a certain package soon after.
I didn't buy Songs About Fucking for the title (written in pink block letters across the top) or the album art (a close-up of a cartoon woman's face, presumably enjoying the pleasures of sexual congress). It was $12 and I actually like it, which was more than I can say about Blood, Guts and Pussy, but yeah, the title and the cover made the decision easier. One of the more obvious reasons for buying records over CDs or digital music at this point in time is that the physical object, the container of the music itself, simply looks good. Before I bought records I never paid attention to cover art, but now it's an entirely new aspect of music that I can enjoy.
Big Black's second album Songs About Fucking isn't actually about fucking in any significant proportions. Frontman Steve Albini presumably saved that for Rapeman, one of his other bands. The lyrical content is loaded with violence and nihilism but delivered in sardonic terms, like a lot of punk music in the 80's. I'd say Big Black is somewhere between post-punk and noise rock, with the latter thrown in almost entirely because of Albini's guitar tone. Big Black has a very characteristic sound, owing to that raw screeching guitar and the exclusive use of a drum machine rather than a live drummer. It's like eating a bowl of razorblades dipped in sarin while holding your head down by the end of a bowling alley. At its worst, Songs About Fucking sounds like Sonic Youth after Thurston's had a few too many.
With 14 tracks, it looks like Songs About Fucking is a little over the average album length, but this is essentially a punk record, and that means a barrage of quick and dirty kicks to the ribs (that aforementioned Dwarves album is 12 tracks and 15 minutes long). "The Power Of Independent Trucking" runs you over, and their cover of Kraftwerk's "Das Model" leaves you feeling confused and lost. "Kitty Empire" swaggers, "Pavement Saw" slices, and "Precious Thing" tries to be romantic with disastrous consequences. It's 32 minutes long, and feels even shorter. Some of the songs run together and are hard to distinguish from one another, but there are enough highlights on the album to make it at least worth checking out.
1. The Power of Independent Trucking (1:27)
2. The Model (2:34) (Kraftwerk cover)
3. Bad Penny (2:33)
4. L Dopa (1:40)
5. Precious Thing (2:20)
6. Colombian Necktie (2:14)
7. Kitty Empire (4:01)
8. Ergot (2:27)
9. Kasimir S. Pulaski Day (2:28)
10. Fish Fry (2:06)
11. Pavement Saw (2:12)
12. Tiny, King of the Jews (2:31)
13. Bombastic Intro (0:35)
14. He's a Whore (2:37) (Cheap Trick cover)
Songs About Fucking - Big Black - 1987 - Touch & Go Records