Big Black – Songs About Fucking (1987)

One doesn’t really know where to start when it comes to analyzing the works of Steve Albini, and if I’m honest I’m still a total amateur on the subject; although I guess Songs About Fucking is a great place to start considering it is rather well known. I kinda worked my way backwards through the world of drum-machine propelled music, starting with Agoraphobic Nosebleed and other digigrinders, then onto Godflesh and other industrial. Big Black, as influential as they were, came as a bit of a shock to me when I finally got around to checking them out. Coming on initially to my inexperienced ears like a bizarre mix between Swans and Marilyn Manson, Songs About Fucking holds all the swagger of punk and rock’n’roll, mixing it oddly with the distorted and experimental edge of early drum-machine powered industrial and the growing synth-pop trend.

Personally, I find Side A a load more fun that Side B, and it is no co-incidence that the two sides are separate sessions recorded in different parts of the world. “The Model” is so catchy it gets stuck in my head for days, whilst “Bad Penny” and “L Dopa” are two examples of drum machine rock music at it’s very best. Side B seems a lot more clanky and heavy. Unfortunately, this record was to be Big Black’s last. Steve Albini, as some of you are probably aware, went on to forge an extremely successful studio recording career as a producer, pushing his love of analogue and his more “authentic” recording techniques upon some of music’s more well known stars. Good man!