Classic Album Review: The Rich Man’s Eight Track Tape

Artist: Big Black
Full Title: The Rich Man’s Eight Track Tape
Year: 1987
Label: Touch and Go
Grade: B+
Tracks:

1) Jordan, Minnesota- 9
2) Passing Complexion- 7
3) Big Money- 7
4) Kerosene- 10
5) Bad Houses- 8
6) Fists of Love- 8
7) Stinking Drunk- 8
8) Bazooka Joe- 9
9) Cables (live)- 9
10) Heartbeat (Wire cover)- 9
11) Things to Do Today- 8
12) I Can’t Believe- 8/9
13) My Disco- 9
14) Grinder- 8/9
15) Ready Men- 8/9
16) Pete, King of the Detectives- 9

This record is a compilation consisting of the LP Atomizer (tracks 1-9), the single Heartbeat (track 10), and the EP Headache (tracks 11-16).

Comments: Having been a huge fan of Big Black’s magnum opus, Songs About Fucking, my thirst for pure fucking noise grew into dehyrdration. With RMETT I feel stuffed and then some! In terms of the chaotic nature of Big Black’s music, this compilation showcases head spinning material far more than SAF. Now, I’m not saying it’s better, but if noise rock is your thang, then you will really dig this piece. The whiplash begins with “Jordan, Minnesota,” a terrifying ditty about a child molestation ring in said community; Albini hollers, “This is Jordan, we do what like… this will stay with you until you die and I will stay with you until you die.” I’m still baffled as to why Disney never returned his phone calls to feature Big Black’s music on one of their film’s soundtracks?! Musically, Roland, the drum machine is hard at work throughout the record, complementing the chainsaw guitars, literally, these motherfuckers sound closer to chainsaws than most wimpy musician’s guitar playing. Other lyrical themes include domestic abuse (“Fists of Love,” “Stinking Drunk,”), the innocent hobbie of watching cattle slaughtered at a local ranch to pass the time (“Cables”), and racism (“Pete, King of the Detectives”), where Albini roars in his deliberately, white liberal hipster, offending lyrics, “I am Pete!… I’m a hard working man, I ain’t no drunkard, I ain’t no coloured man!” Don’t worry kids, it’s all good fun… Moving on, “Kerosene,” is the best track and by far Big Black’s greatest offering, in fact, I’d say it’s Albini’s “Let It Be,” with Shellac’s, his other band, “My Black Ass,” being a potential rival. Kerosene features everything that made Big Black kick ass and harsher than just about any other band one cares to name: musical intensity through violent, slashing, guitars, pounding drum beats, extremely morbid subject matter (some kiddies decide to burn themselves to dust because it’s “something to do”). Other notable treats include, “Heartbeat,” a catchy cover of the Wire number of the same name and “My Disco,” a tune that puts a whole spin (ha!) on said genre. Overall, this record is for the Ready Men, not for you wee, little pussy wussies out there, I insist y’all find some kerosene.

Chris