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Every monthwe play a musiciana series of recordswhich they're asked to identify and comment on -with no prior knowledge of what they're about to hear. This month it's the turn of.. .

US guitarist and producer Steve Albini's first band, Big Black, shot to prominence in the mid-80s as one of several underground Amencan post-hardcore groups (others included Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers) on the English Blast First label. The three-piece (with a lethal drum machine) recorded two full length albums, Atom~serand Songs About Fucking, before calling it a day. Albini's next project, Rapeman, attracted considerable controversy in the UK for their name (the title of a Japanese manga comic), all of which obscured the fact that Two Nuns AndA Pack Mule ( 1 9 8 8 ) was a massive advance into the beyond, Albini's trademark metallic-sounding gultar married up t o the former Scratch Acid rhythm section. After Rapeman split, Albini embarked on a second career as a producer and engineer, most notably with Nlrvana, PJ Harvey and The Pixies, but also working with underground acts from America, Europe and Japan as disparate as The Ex, Scrawl and Zeni Geva. Last year he unveiled h18latest group, Shellac, another three-piece (with Bob Weston and Todd Trainer on bass and drums), who've so far recorded two singles for Touch & Go. Unsurprisingly for a former journalist (mainly for the US fanzine Forced Exposure),Albini seemed to enjoy discussing the selections he disliked as much as those he did.

B 0 D I D D L N "Humblin' Guitar" from Bo Diddley RidesAgain (Pye) I can't immediately identlfy it, but i t sounds like it's one of the Hazel Atkins wild party boogie music school. It's Bo Diddley. Ah. Makes perfect sense. I'm not terribly literate in old boogie music specifics, but I've always liked stuff of this kind of energy and clotty rhythm. Obviously stuff like Jon Spencer Blues Explosion would not have been possible wlthout somebody like this laylng the groundwork. Why is Jon Spencer so popular with American undergroundmusicians? Well, for a while now i t has been uncool to acknowledge rock and roll, probably because i t has so many revolting stepchildren, like the whole Bruce Sprlngsteen barroom school of practitioners. And hating those people is so easy that you end up hating all their forebears by association. So people who started liking music around the time of punk rock like I did, in a bald reaction to that way of thinking, basically just ignored music like this. And that has carried over as that generation became the dominant culture in the rock music scene. I guess in a way having someone like Jon Spencer play music like that removes that affected rock star hippy appreciation of the blues and washes the bad taste out of people's mouths.

THROBBING GRISTLE "Hamburger Lady" from DOA -Throbbing Gristle's Third Annual Report (Industrial) I 'm tempted t o blurt out Kraftwerk right away, but ~tisn't. No, this is Throbb~ngGristle. This was a staple on a college radio station in Chicago called WZRD. They used to use "Hamburger Lady", and other utterly inappropriate Industrial music, the way some stations use the chatter of teletype machines behind newsreaders. Right after I moved to Chicago In 1980 is when I started being exposed to just about every kind of music; having grown up in Montana I didn't have a lot of exposure, and WZRD was absolutely instrumental in educating me about what was available.

It's strange how your perception of things changes over time. While I was In college I thought minimalist, unsettling electronic music l ~ k ethis was about the weirdest, most extreme, coolest thing you could do. But most of the people involved in the early Industrial music movement have not acquitted themselves well over time, l ~ k eCabaret Voltaire degenerated Into just an absolutely tasteless disco band. The entirety of Psychic TV's otput I think is really absolutely trivial in comparison with the content and quality of Throbbing Gristle.

FUGAZI "23 Beats Off" from In On The Kill Taker (Dischord) Again, I'm tempted to blurt out Fugazi.Th~sis "23 Beats Off", about a celebrity who becomes an unwitting poster child for HIV, and what I get from the subject matter of this song is that a person of some significance can lend his significance to something else, and often does so without ever knowing he's done it, as in the case of a celebrity who's HIV. Fugazi are first and foremost an outstanding live rock band. They play so much and under such diverse conditions that they could pull off an outstanding show in a mine shaft or underwater.

BLACK SABBATH "Supernaut" from Paranoid (Castle Communications) Is i t Black Sabbath? There's a large number of seminal Chicago punk rock guitar players who absolutely worship Black Sabbath. I've always hated them. They really mean nothing to me. What about their impact on everyone else? There are a couple of things. One is tuning the guitar real low. That's so prevalent now that when you hear a Heavy Metal album, if it's performed in normal tuning, i t sounds speeded up, as though it's a chipmunk version of a hard rock band. But they've had a lot wider influence than just the hard rock scene. They would have these folk and classical moments on their records - absolutely excruciating - and those in a way legitimised equally unendurable moments on records appearing nowadays. The entire Unplugged movement I think is directly traceable t o the folk and

42 The Wire

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